Cablegate: Media Reaction: Visit of State Department

Published: Mon 13 Sep 2004 11:15 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
131115Z Sep 04
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: Visit of State Department
Counterterrorism Coordinator garners widespread coverage
1. SUMMARY. S/CT Coordinator Ambassador Cofer Black's
September 7-8 visit to Sri Lanka elicited copious media
coverage, with the vast majority of papers (both English
and vernacular) placing coverage of a roundtable media
discussion with newspaper editors prominently in above-the-
fold banner headlines. Editorial comment generally lauded
Black's call that the LTTE renounce terrorism and return to
negotiations. Television and radio also keenly covered the
visit, with two television stations running two-minute
segments of Ambassador Black's short TV interviews at the
American Center. END SUMMARY.
2. Headlines on September 9 lauded the visit and pointed up
Black's call for the LTTE to renounce terrorism. The
independent English DAILY MIRROR on 09/09 led with "U.S.
accuses Tigers of sowing terror." Government-owned DAILY
NEWS had "LTTE must lay down arms, renounce terrorism and
join democratic process." Government-owned Tamil daily
THINAKARAN carried 09/09 "The LTTE should prove that they
have renounced terrorism - U.S. demands." Independent
Tamil daily THINAKKURAL 09/09 led with "The LTTE should
show its interest by word and deed in resuming talks - The
U.S. representative." Government-owned Sinhala DINAMINA
carried 09/09: "America will consider LTTE a terrorist
organization until it proves by deed its genuine dedication
for peace - U.S. Ambassador for Coordination of
Counterterrorism." Independent Sinhala DIVAINA 09/09 led
with "As long as the LTTE continues its terrorist
activities it would remain in the list of terrorist groups,
says Cofer Black of America."
3. Television coverage of the visit was also widespread,
with stations in all three languages -- both government-
owned and independent -- giving pride of place to Amb.
Black's visit on their evening news broadcasts September 8.
Radio news carried news of the visit on September 8, with
radio broadcasts covering the visit and Amb. Black's
statements carried into September 10.
Editorial excerpts:
4. Under the header "LTTE should read the writing on the
wall," the government-owned English DAILY NEWS (08/21)
commented: "The U.S. position that the LTTE must negotiate
with the Lankan Government in earnest, lay down arms and
renounce terror, for its delisting as a foreign terrorist
organization, indicates that there would be no let-up in US
efforts to crack down on the LTTE, as long as it remains
wedded to terror. U.S. Ambassador-at-Large and State
Department Coordinator for Counter Terrorism, J. Cofer
Black made the U.S. Government's position on this issue
amply clear. He said that the LTTE would remain on the
U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, "until they
show by word and deed that they are negotiating in good
faith...." Cofer Black was quoted as saying. We hope that
this reiteration of the U.S. Government's position would
enable the LTTE to see the writing on the wall and hasten
to the negotiating table in a spirit of compromise and
5. Taking a dissenting tack from the mainly positive
editorial comment, the pro-LTTE Tamil daily SUDAR OLI
(09/09) commented under the header "International policeman
who fails to be neutral,": "Some comments made by the head
of US counter-terrorism office, Amb. J. Cofer Black had
wounded the hearts of Tamils of Eelam.... He did not fail
to show the unruly attitude of America at a media
roundtable with a selected batch of editors.... America is
a superpower, a country that is strong and powerful.... As
the self-appointed international policeman, it also has to
be neutral in its activities.... Amb. Cofer Black had stated
that the LTTE is engaged in terrorism. They should prove by
word and deed that they had renounced violence if to remove
them from the list of terrorist groups.... It is a shame
that America talk(s) about terrorism in Sri Lanka, when
they are responsible for all the destruction and deaths in
Iraq under its puppet government after invading against the
wish and will of the UN...."
6. Under the header "Think before you leap!" Independent
Sinhala weekly SUNDAY DIVAINA commented (09/12):
"Ambassador Cofer Black - U.S. Counterterrorism Chief said
that he doubts whether the LTTE is genuinely dedicated for
peace and also that they keep sharing their expertise with
other world terrorist organizations. This is definite food
for thought for all patriots other than those intellectuals
who had been brainwashed by the peace NGOs.... The
politicians who are in the trance of the peace trap also
would like to ignore this statement. This is a clear
command as to carefully investigate into all that would be
taking place in the name of peace in this country.
Ambassador Black's statement seems to ridicule those
politicos who boast of being able to get the fighting
Tigers to talk peace and also those fools who are under the
impressions that the talks should be re-started from where
it stalled. This is only a question of wisdom and
understanding.... Ambassador Black in the announcement of
his concern over the LTTE's falseness has reminded us of
the recent killings of the LTTE. In his mind still echoes
the human bomb that went off in Kollupitiya. He was thus
brave enough to cast his suspicious eyes on the Tigers, and
to stress that America would continue to list the LTTE
under the foreign Terrorist groups until they prove by deed
their genuine dedication to peace. We are fortunate that
this American officer sensed the danger faced by our
country. should we allow Prabhakaran to quench his power
thirst by trying to usher this peace? Ambassador Black has
asked us to "think before we leap". If we ignore his
advice we would be digging our own grave.... "
6. COMMENT: The widespread and prominent attention the
media gave Amb. Black's visit reflects the keen and ongoing
interest in the U.S. position regarding the peace process.
Black's roundtable discussion and television interviews
served to reiterate the message that the LTTE must renounce
terrorism and also to reassure television and newspaper
audiences that the U.S. remains concerned and engaged on
this issue. END COMMENT.
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