This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000695
DEPT FOR D, INR/R/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA
SA/INS(FOR JWALLER); SA/PD (FOR LJIRWIN, LSCENSNY,
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE LTTE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY - LTTE SUSPENDS PEACE TALKS
1. On April 21, the LTTE announced it suspending peace
talks scheduled for April 29 in Thailand. In a letter to
the GSL, the LTTE listed its reasons for suspending talks
as: its exclusion from the 4/14 Washington Conference,
problems with the ceasefire accord implementation, and that
GSL had not focused enough on rebuilding the economy of the
North and East. From 4/21 to 4/23, English, Sinhala and
Tamil media covered the story extensively and with a mostly
optimistic slant. One English editorial focused on
promoting rule of law and democracy, while another
encouraged the government not to cave in to the LTTE.
Editorials from Tamil and Sinhala papers encouraged the
continuation of the peace process.
2. In their 4/21 and 4/22 newscasts Sri Lankan telecasters
reacted to the LTTE suspension of peace talks with stories
similar to independent MTV's (4/21): "LTTE pull out of
peace talks temporarily because they were not invited to
the Washington conference, living conditions of people in
the North and East, and lack of normalcy in the North and
East." 4/22 reactions continued to react to the LTTE
pull-out. Independent MTV ran stories about "PM and
President discussion regarding LTTE's suspension of peace
talks, and "The sub committee meeting on emergency
resettlement will take place as scheduled." State-owned
SLRC ran stories about "PM fully concentrates on reasons
for LTTE's temporary pull out of peace talks," and "PM and
President discuss LTTE's pull out of peace talks."
3. Most English and vernacular newspaper headlines on 4/22
focused on the LTTE pull-out from the talks, but many with
an optimistic slant. On 4/22 Independent English daily,
MIRROR's leader "LTTE pulls out of peace talks," was echoed
by headlines in the English, Sinhala and Tamil dailies.
The independent THINAKKURAL noted "Peace talks temporarily
suspended." The sentiment of a temporary suspension also
showed in up in most other Tamil and Sinhala dailies'
headlines. Government-owned Sinhala daily, DINAMINA
noted, "LTTE withdraws temporarily out of peace talks - But
it's not moving out of the peace process," while
independent Sinhala daily LANKADEEPA also noted, "Stance to
seek solution through negotiations, however remains."
4/23 headlines were similarly reassuring. Independent
English daily, the MIRROR noted, "PM calm, monitors
confident, " "President hopes peace talks will resume
soon," and that "US expects talks to resume soon."
Opposition daily, the ISLAND said "CBK dissatisfied at
LTTE's unilateral decision" and "LTTE assures SLMM: Will
abide by MoU." Government owned English DAILY NEWS noted,
"LTTE pledges to honour ceasefire." From independent
Sinhala daily LAKBIMA came, ""Bala says that they still
would not walk out of the process of seeking a political
4/23 headlines in the Tamil press were concerned with
security and maintaining the peace. "Independent Tamil
daily THINAKKURAL: "President orders to enforce the
security of 1995," State owned Tamil daily THINAKARAN:
"Tigers assure that they would continue cessation of
hostilities," and also noted that "Tamil National Alliance
fully endorses Tigers' decision." The independent Tamil
daily VIRAKESARI said "Even though Tigers withdrew from
peace talks temporarily, peace efforts will not be
interrupted" - believes Minister G.L. Peiris" and also ran
a sub-headline noting, ""Although we withdrew from talks,
we have no idea of engaging in war" says V. Balakumaran,
Senior LTTE Member." From Independent Tamil daily SUDAR
OLI: "Big security nets in Colombo (Capital) after Tiger
pullout" and "President unhappy about Tigers withdrawal."
4. Under the headline " Urgent tasks at hand," Government-
owned English DAILY NEWS noted (4/23) "that firm
enforcement of the Rule of Law is an essential precondition
for peace." Excerpts:
"While the LTTE's decision to suspend peace talks with the
Government "on certain critical issues" is likely to cause
considerable worry among the peace-loving public, our wish
is that every effort would be made by the main parties to
resume the negotiatory process."
"We hope an earnest effort would be made by these parties
to resolve their differences without further delay, for
what is at stake is the country's future."
"Although it is encouraging to note that the LTTE has vowed
to remain within the negotiatory process aimed at arriving
at a political solution to the conflict, the chief parties
may need to engage each other in an exchange of views as
early as possible for the purpose of clarifying outstanding
"However, there is no getting away from the need for
creating a democratic ethos at all societal levels -
grassroots or otherwise. This would necessitate the
recognition and respecting of each others rights on the
part of communities. The exercise of violent coercion by
any party would be a violation of this important
foundational principle for peace."
"The firm enforcement of the Rule of Law is an essential
precondition for the establishment of societal stability."
5. Under the headline " The folly of equating terrorists to
a government " Opposition daily the ISLAND commented (4/23)
that "government should not cave in" to the LTTE.
"We do concede that the Sri Lanka government has to take
the rap for this infuriation. Despite common-sense and all
experience in international negotiations indicating that it
would be extremely counterproductive to deproscribe the
LTTE, it being an international terrorist organisation, the
Sri Lanka government yielded to LTTE blackmail of refusing
to commence negotiations, unless their proscription was
removed. Having thus proclaimed themselves as an ` equal
party' to the democratic and sovereign government, the
Tigers have since then proceeded on the premise that they
are an independent nation not giving a damn to what the Sri
Lanka government did or said. Nor did they give two hoots
for the opinion of the so- called international community."
"They flouted the law of the land, the Memorandum of
Understanding whose provisions they were bound to observe,
violated international law and continued merrily with their
patrons, the Norwegian Peace Monitors being blind to such
violations and even tacitly sanctioning them while treating
the terrorists and the government as equal parties. Child
abduction, establishment of Kangaroo Courts, an illegal
army, police force, police stations were all approved or
ignored. Arms were smuggled in, ships sunk - even foreign
ships - but the Sri Lankan government, the international
community nor the Peace Monitors said nary a word."
"The fundamental flaw in this peace process is the
presumption by the LTTE that it is on par with the state of
Sri Lanka and have the right to act as a sovereign state.
Be it the abduction of children for Baby Brigades,
establishment of Kangaroo courts, smuggling of arms,
sinking of ships, marching through security camps of the
government forces, the LTTE has presumed and acted in a
manner that they enjoy the same status as the Sri Lanka
government. And for once when a foreign government, because
of its own legal compulsions, does not invite them for a
conference, they are ` furious'"
"Another major flaw in this peace process has been that the
government-as we have pointed out in innumerable
editorials-is conceding most of the major demands made by
the LTTE. So far the peace process has mainly been one way
. The only major demand refused by the government has been
the rejection of the demand to move the armed forces out of
the High Security Zones in the North because of very valid
and compelling reasons."
The government should not cave in and President Kumaratunga
should use her powers to help the Prime Minister not to be
6. Under the headline "Talks should continue," independent
Tamil daily VIRAKESARI commented (4/23) "If the talks do
not continue it will be a victory for those working against
"The commitment and giving in policy of the Tigers to
achieve peace, clearly helped them tearing away the
terrorist labels on them. Tigers were able to show the
international community that the y are committed to peace
and are looking forward to permanent peace through
negotiated settlement. "
"Ceasefire and peace talks created this environment. It is
true that the chauvinist groups are planning hard to derail
the talks. It is very important that the peace lovers work
vigilantly and with caution, without getting caught to
"This is the situation the talks have reached now. If the
talks do not continue it will be a victory for those
working against peace. "
"Failure of governments to keep its promises is a trend in
this country. This has caused some doubt in the minds of
tigers. Lot of trust building was experienced during the
last one year, and the talks should continue and this
country should create history for the whole world to
7. Under the headline "Increased need of dedication,"
Government owned Sinhala Daily DINAMINA commented (4/23)
that the "Public should be keen to let both parties focus
on peace" and "should not act emotionally." Excerpts:
"This type of set backs are normal....People in North as
well as the South are thankful to LTTE for not opting to
"The atmosphere is challenging both for communities in the
North and South-as peace lovers all should request both
parties to stick to PEACE..."
"All should be aware of opportunists... they should not be
lured into war...these groups say that SLG was ever willing
to give into all demands of LTTE. But The PM's letter to
LTTE has showed that it's not the case....
"National and international preference is for peace...
difficult for LTTE too to detour...both parties have their
"Public should be keen to let both parties focus on
peace...should not act emotionally...need to act maturely
towards the welfare of Sri Lanka". WILLS