US embassy cable - 02COLOMBO1501

PRESIDENT KUMARATUNGA SAYS SHE WILL MEET RANIL ON COHABITATION

Identifier: 02COLOMBO1501
Wikileaks: View 02COLOMBO1501 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 2002-08-15 08:43:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PTER PINR PREL PARM CE NO Political Parties
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L COLOMBO 001501 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR SA, SA/INS, LONDON FOR POL/RIEDEL; NSC FOR 
E. MILLARD 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/15/2012 
TAGS: PGOV, PTER, PINR, PREL, PARM, CE, NO, Political Parties 
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT KUMARATUNGA SAYS SHE WILL MEET RANIL ON 
COHABITATION 
 
REF: COLOMBO 1491 
 
Classified By: Ambassador E. Ashley Wills.  Reasons 1.5 B, D. 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  My dinner with President Kumaratunga last 
night (August 14) went well.  She was vivacious, relaxed and 
chatty.  We hardly discussed substance at all, but she did 
say she will try to meet with Ranil before she leaves for the 
UK this weekend.  She is prepared to discuss new terms for 
cohabitation but would not reveal what she has in mind.  She 
apologized for her brother's intemperate remarks re President 
Bush (he did too).  My dog liked her.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C) President Kumaratunga came to dinner last night 
(August 14) at Jefferson House.  She arrived 90 minutes late 
with her son - Wednesday's regular Cabinet meeting ran late - 
and stayed until 0100.  Her sister, Sunetra, and her brother, 
Anura, arrived before her and were pleasant companions. 
Anura apologized for his remarks regarding President Bush's 
election.  (Later in the evening, CBK pulled me aside and 
apologized as well for what he said.) 
 
3.  (C) Our conversation was overwhelmingly light-hearted. 
The President turned gossipy at various points, entertaining 
us all with her earthy characterizations of various leading 
figures in Sri Lankan public life.  It turns out she likes 
bourbon, a sure sign of refinement.  She revealed a relaxed, 
radiant personality that disarmed the Wills clan, including 
my Golden Retriever, who disloyally sat beside the President 
the whole evening. 
 
4.  (C) At a couple of points, we ventured into substance. 
She confirmed that former Foreign Minister Kadirgamar is 
trying to broker a meeting between her and the PM on 
cohabitation, and she said she would try to meet with Ranil 
before she leaves for the UK this weekend.  (She is away for 
a week to spend time with her daughter and thus will not be 
in country during the Depsec's visit.)  I told her the 
obvious, namely that her and Ranil's bickering serves the 
LTTE's interests, not Sri Lanka's.  She agreed.  She 
acknowledged that some of her phrasing in her TV speech last 
week was intemperate, but she blamed the UNP's constant 
harassment of her for her lack of restraint.  All things 
summed, she came across as reasonable and in full control of 
her emotions and sense, an assessment I conveyed to the PM 
this morning, per his request (see reftel). 
 
5.  (C) COMMENT:  Chandrika can be beguiling and was on this 
occasion.  I can see why she is so admired, especially but 
not only by middle and lower income Sri Lankans who respond 
well to her populist plain-speaking.  It was interesting to 
see her having to put up with the good-natured ribbing of her 
brother, sister and son.  Her humanity showed.  END COMMENT. 
 
Wills 

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