|Wikileaks:||View 03COLOMBO184 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PREL PGOV PTER CE IN LTTE|
|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 SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 000184 SIPDIS NOFORN DEPARTMENT FOR SA A/S ROCCA; ALSO PASS D AND SA/INS E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/13 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, CE, IN, LTTE - Peace Process, External Relations SUBJECT: Engaging the Indians on Sri Lanka (U) Classified by Ambassador E. Ashley Wills. Reasons 1.5 (b,d). 1. (C/NF) While in Washington last week, I discussed with the Deputy Secretary and with you the possibility of our engaging with India on the subject of Sri Lanka's move toward peace. In this connection, I present the following thoughts for your review. 2. (C/NF) As you know, Sri Lanka's peace process has made immense progress since it began in December 2001. There are recent signs, however, that the process may be slowing down. The LTTE seems to digging in its heels on such issues as the "high security zones" in Jaffna. In the meantime, the LTTE's human rights record continues to be very poor in such areas as the forced recruitment of children. There is also no indication that the group has any intention of accepting political pluralism in the areas under its control or in which it is seeking to exert influence. Meanwhile, in the south, "cohabitation" tensions remain high and support for the government's peace initiative could slide if the economy does not pick up in 2003. 3. (C/NF) Given this sensitive situation, it is vital that the international community do what it can to keep the peace process moving. In this regard, we have been told by countless interlocutors that the countries that count to Sri Lankans -- and with the LTTE -- are the U.S. and India. At this point, we see the U.S. as very well-positioned in Sri Lanka. We have good relations with the government and President Kumaratunga, consistently using these ties to urge them to bridge their differences. We also have solid links with the Tamil and Muslim communities. And through our various public statements and media interviews, we think the LTTE knows precisely where we stand, especially regarding our insistence that the group reject violence and terrorism, and dispense with the idea of an independent Tamil Eelam. 4. (C/NF) The situation regarding India is a completely different matter. India's attitude toward the peace process has been reserved and correct. Every now and then it issues hortatory statements in support of peace, but more often than not it is a silent observer and it seems especially prone to criticizing developments not to its liking, such as Japan's presumed role in the process. Overall, its policy toward Sri Lanka appears extremely conflicted, favoring a stable situation in Sri Lanka to be sure, but reluctant to do much to accomplish that goal. We know that this situation is explainable. The burden of the past is a heavy one in light of the casualties suffered by the Indian Peacekeeping Force in 1987-90 and the LTTE's brutal assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991. 5. (C/NF) That said, as the key regional player, it is important that India assume a more active role regarding Sri Lanka, especially in the months ahead. To do this, we recommend that the U.S. work to draw India into a dialogue in which we begin to discuss our respective and largely concordant views on the situation in more depth. We want to provoke critical thinking in New Delhi, with the object of getting the GoI to weigh in more compellingly, thus reinforcing international efforts to help resolve the Sri Lankan dispute. In doing this, we could underscore that an activist posture is truly in India's national interest. 6. (C/NF) We think, for example, that India could play a key role in convincing the LTTE to take bold steps toward disarmament and demobilization. We say that realizing that ties between India and the LTTE are now seriously strained, and that there are complexities involving Indian domestic politics, including in Tamil Nadu and with Sonya Gandhi, that need to be dealt with. Nonetheless, we sense that India's positioning is crucial in terms of LTTE decision-making. Put another way, continued Indian aloofness gives the LTTE reason to think that it can operate without much concern for the views of a neighbor that is a stone's throw away over the Palk Strait. Moreover, in southern Sri Lanka, Sinhalese extremists take heart from what they see as India's seeming reluctance to back the peace process wholeheartedly. 7. (C/NF) In making the recommendation that we move to activate a dialogue with India on Sri Lanka, we do not have any specific ideas on what our engagement might look like. There are others in the USG who are much better positioned to structure the dialogue. Based on what we have heard, however, National Security Adviser Mishra seems to have assumed more of an activist posture than some other Indian officials, including those in the Ministry of External Affairs. Given this, an in-depth Sri Lanka-focused discussion with him might be a good place to start. WILLS
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