US embassy cable - 03COLOMBO252

Japanese envoy Akashi reviews preliminary plans for donors' conference and possible U.S. role

Identifier: 03COLOMBO252
Wikileaks: View 03COLOMBO252 at
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 2003-02-13 10:48:00
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 03 COLOMBO 000252 
E.O. 12958:  DECL: 02/13/13 
SUBJECT:  Japanese envoy Akashi reviews preliminary 
plans for donors' conference and possible U.S. role 
Refs:  (A) Tokyo 770 (Notal) 
-      (B) Colombo 113, and previous 
(U) Classified by Lewis Amselem, Deputy Chief of 
Mission. Reasons 1.5 (b,d). 
1.  (C/NF) SUMMARY:  In a February 13 meeting with the 
Ambassador, Japanese Special Envoy Akashi reviewed 
preliminary plans for the Tokyo donors' conference in 
June, noting that exact details still needed to ironed 
out with the GSL.  Japan felt that U.S. participation 
was important in giving the event credibility.  He 
remarked that his next stop was India where he planned 
to press the GoI to participate in the conference. 
Akashi was well-briefed, but Japan's exact role still 
needs further refinement in light of Norwegian 
involvement and Indian sensitivities.  END SUMMARY. 
Akashi Reviews Plans for Conference 
2.  (C/NF) Ambassador Wills and DCM met February 13 with 
Yasushi Akashi, Japan's Special Envoy on Sri Lankan 
issues.  Akashi related that his latest visit to Sri 
Lanka was going well.  (Note:  Akashi also visited Sri 
Lanka in January and met with the Ambassador at that 
time -- See Ref B.)  The Ambassador asked Akashi how 
plans were proceeding regarding Japan's hosting of the 
international donors' conference for Sri Lanka due to be 
held in Tokyo, June 9-10.  Akashi replied that exact 
details for the conference still needed to ironed out 
with the Sri Lankan government.  He planned to have a 
long meeting that night with Prime Minister 
Wickremesinghe plus key Ministers G.L. Peiris and 
Milinda Moragoda to discuss how the conference should be 
organized.  The U.S. would be briefed regarding the 
meeting's conclusions as soon as possible, he added. 
3. (C/NF) Akashi went on to note that the GoJ had some 
preliminary notions regarding the conference that he 
could share.  The current idea was to have four co- 
chairs -- Japan, Norway, the EU, and the U.S.  This 
model had worked for last year's Afghan reconstruction 
conference.  As host, Japan planned to do most of the 
work involved in putting the conference together.  That 
said, Japan was committed to consulting fully with the 
other co-chairs on the format of the conference.  The 
co-chairs, for example, would have to work closely 
together in drafting a declaration for the conference. 
Much of the work on the declaration could take place 
closer to the timeframe of the conference. 
4.  (C/NF) Continuing, Akashi noted that much thought 
had to go into the exact role of representatives of the 
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) at the 
conference.  Japan's current thinking was that the group 
would definitely not have equivalent status with the 
GSL.  In addition, nothing should be done to enhance the 
group's position that was not absolutely necessary. 
Ambassador Wills noted that exact plans regarding how to 
handle the LTTE could be modulated closer to the 
timeframe of the conference per the group's pattern of 
behavior.  Some flexibility in this regard could serve 
to reward the LTTE for positive moves regarding the 
peace process, while a negative pattern of behavior 
could be dealt with in a different manner.  Akashi said 
he thought that approach made sense. 
Possible U.S. Role 
5.  (C/NF) When asked for more information about the 
possible U.S. role, Akashi said the GoJ felt that U.S. 
participation in the conference was important in giving 
the event credibility.  Akashi said he strongly hoped 
that the U.S. would serve as a co-chair and that Deputy 
Secretary Armitage could participate, as he was a real 
"drawing card."  The Ambassador noted that the Deputy 
Secretary was keen to participate in the conference, if 
at all possible.  Akashi noted that GoJ representatives 
had met with the Norwegians to discuss how the 
November 2002 Oslo conference was structured as regards 
interactions between the LTTE and donors, such as the 
U.S.  Japan wanted the U.S. to know that it was 
sensitive to this issue and would work closely with us 
to ensure that there were no potentially embarrassing 
encounters with the LTTE, including photos, at the June 
Re India 
6.  (C/NF) In response to a question, Akashi said he 
continued to work the India angle.  He noted that he 
planned to meet India's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka 
later in the day and his next stop after Sri Lanka was 
India.  In New Delhi, he planned to meet with National 
Security Adviser Mishra and some other officials.  He 
would urge the GoI to participate in the donors' 
conference.  Akashi said he thought the Ministry of 
External Affairs was not very flexible regarding Sri 
Lanka.  Mishra was more flexible, but even he was 
constrained by the anti-LTTE domestic political dynamic. 
The Ambassador asked whether he planned to meet Congress 
Party leader Sonia Gandhi and Akashi said he had no such 
plans this trip.  The Ambassador noted that India had 
made clear that it supported the peace process on many 
occasions, but it really needed to take a more visible 
role.  Indian influence, for example, might be an 
important factor in getting the LTTE to take the first 
step toward disarmament and demobilization. 
Other Items 
7.  (C/NF) Akashi also briefly touched on the following 
-- Prabhakaran:  Akashi noted that he had received an 
invitation some time ago to meet with LTTE leader 
V. Prabhakaran.  He was thinking of possibly doing so in 
early March when senior Tiger negotiator Anton 
Balasingham visited Sri Lanka.  Such a meeting might be 
useful in probing Prabhakaran's exact thoughts on the 
peace process. 
-- Kumaratunga:  Akashi said he planned to meet 
President Kumaratunga on February 14.  During his last 
visit, she had cancelled her meeting with him on very 
short notice, but had sent him a nice letter of apology. 
He asked the Ambassador whether it was likely that the 
president might dissolve Parliament and call new 
elections at some point in the next several months, and, 
by doing so, disrupt the donors' conference.  The 
Ambassador responded that he did not think Kumaratunga 
would do this, but it was in the realm of the possible. 
(Note:  Akashi took some flak from one of the 
president's press spokesmen the other day.  The 
spokesman accused Akashi of portraying himself as an 
"adviser" to the GSL.  Akashi, in fact, has never 
claimed to be that, although he is an adviser 
to the GSL-LTTE humanitarian issues sub-committee.  In 
addition, some anti-peace process elements, including in 
the press, have hit out at Akashi, accusing Japan -- 
wholly inaccurately -- of having a soft spot for the 
LTTE.  End Note.) 
8.  (C/NF) As he was in our last meeting with him, 
Akashi was highly articulate and well-briefed about the 
Sri Lankan situation.  He underscored that Sri Lanka was 
important to Japan as a way to show its foreign policy 
to be "positive" and "activist."  All that said, it is 
clear that Japan's exact role in the peace process still 
needs further refinement in light of Norwegian 
involvement and Indian sensitivities.  At one point in 
the conversation, for example, Akashi used the past 
tense in discussing Norway's role as peace facilitator, 
almost as if Japan was waiting in the wings to take 
over.  Our guess is that the GoN would not have been 
happy to hear that.  Moreover, based on what we hear, 
India is still not thrilled with the GoJ's emerging 
role.  Japan needs to draw these threads together if it 
wants its effort to be fully effective.  END COMMENT. 
9. (U) Minimize considered. 

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