“Rajapaksa emphasized to Blake his personal commitment to developing relations with the United States, pointing to the strong personal connections between the United States and his country’s leadership. (Note: Rajapaksa himself is a U.S. citizen. End Note.) Blake said the U.S. shares this desire, but we need to see progress on the issues discussed. Evidence of freedom of movement, for example, would go a long way toward that end.” the US State Department informed US Embassy Colombo.

A classified diplomatic cable which details a meeting the US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake has had with  Secretary to the Ministry of Difence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on September 24, 2009 in US. The cable was classified as “Confidential” signed by Hillary Clinton on September 25 2009.

Related stories to this cable;

Read the cable below for further details;

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OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHNEH
DE RUEHC #0197/01 2681939
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O P 251919Z SEP 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO IMMEDIATE 6018
INFO RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 3728
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN PRIORITY 6600
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 5325
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 6882
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 6917
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 8739
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 6704
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 6448
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 2451
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 8121
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE PRIORITY 6447
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0629
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 9780
RUEHNEH/AMCONSUL HYDERABAD PRIORITY 0110
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA PRIORITY 3402
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 2786
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 7878
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 9320
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 STATE 100197 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/24/2019
TAGS: CE PGOV PHUM PREF PREL PTER
SUBJECT: SCA ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE'S SEPTEMBER 24,
2009 MEETING WITH SRI LANKAN DEFENSE SECRETARY GOTABHAYA
RAJAPAKSA 

Classified By: SCA: AS ROBLAKE 

1.  (SBU) Participants: 

U.S.
SCA A/S Blake
SCA Special Assistant Matthew Lowe
Anthony Renzulli (SCA Notetaker) 

Sri Lanka
Defense Secretary Rajapaksa
Ambassador to the United States Jaliya Wickramasuriya 

2.  (C) SUMMARY.  In a September 24 meeting with Defense
Secretary Gotobhaya Rajapaksa on the margins of the UN
General Assembly, SCA A/S Robert Blake stressed the urgent
importance of resettling as many internally displaced persons
(IDPs) as possible and providing them freedom of movement,
and the urgency of beginning a political reconciliation
process with the Tamil community, if we are to make progress
in strengthening U.S.-Sri Lanka relations.  Key to
reconciliation is identifying an accountability process to
help address past human rights abuses and potential
violations of international law that may have transpired
during the final stages of the military conflict with the
Tamil Tigers (LTTE), Blake pressed. 

3.  (C) Rajapaksa underlined his personal commitment to
strengthening relations with the U.S.  He said the Government
of Sri Lanka (GSL) is committed to resettling as many IDPs to
their villages as quickly as possible, arguing that it is in
the government's political and security interests to do so,
but the process is slowed by a lack of funding and demining
equipment, inadequate infrastructure and housing in
conflict-affected areas, and the continued presence of LTTE
in the IDP camps.  He maintained that people can leave the
camps and regretted the perception that they are detained.
He argued that people in the camps have nowhere else to go
and have chosen to stay.  He pointed to the Eastern Province
as an example of a successful resettlement effort which, he
stressed, took up to nine months.  It has only been three
months since the end of war, he emphasized.  He sought to
assure Blake of President Rajapaksa,s commitment to
political reconciliation, but argued that the President
needed to be cautious of political opponents who will seek to
portray him as selling out the nation after the Army,s
sacrifice and hard-won victory.  Accountability "commissions"
at this stage, he told Blake, would tear the country apart,
rather than promote reconciliation.  END SUMMARY. 

-----------
IDP RETURNS
----------- 

4.  (C) Blake underscored the importance of resettling as
many IDPs as quickly as possible, noting that a number of
GSL-announced deadlines had lapsed.  Rajapaksa said that he
and the President believe that the sooner IDPs are resettled,
the better.  That's why the government's plans have been so
ambitious.  The camps are difficult to control security-wise
-- LTTE combatants easily hide in them -- and breed political
resentment, he contended.  The President wants these people's
political support.  Screening for former LTTE could more
easily take place in villages.  The GSL knows who most of the
hard-core LTTE are and could easily monitor them. 

5.  (C) The biggest problem, according to Rajapaksa, is
financial.  For example, Justice Minister Moragoda, who is in 

STATE 00100197  002 OF 004 

SUBJECT: SCA ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE'S SEPTEMBER 24,
2009 MEETING WITH SRI LANKAN DEFENSE SECRETARY GOTABHAYA
RAJAPAK
charge of rehabilitation of former LTTE combatants, is keen
to press ahead on this effort.  The GSL has provided staff
and developed with the International Organization for
Migration (IOM) a strategy for rehabilitation that emphasizes
livelihood training, but still lacks the resources to build
the centers and the housing required.  (NOTE:  State/USAID
has proposed to DOD using a significant portion of the
approximately $10 million in DOD-provided 1207 funding for
post-conflict stabilization in northern Sri Lanka (about $10
million) on   IOM-implemented projects that support the
rehabilitation of former LTTE and pro-government paramilitary
combatants and former child soldiers, building on similar
work in the East.  END NOTE.) 

6.  (C) Blake recalled that, as Ambassador, he told GSL
officials that the U.S. would have difficulty funding the
long-term presence of IDPs in camps; it would be perceived as
supporting incarceration.  Rajapaksa stressed that it had
been only three months; in the East, the first batch of IDP
returns did not take place for nine months.  Blake pointed to
the barbed wire around the camp as evidence that camp
residents could not leave.  Rajapaksa disputed that
assessment.  The barbed wire, he said, could be removed.  The
camps are not closed.  Eight thousand camp residents have
disappeared and people are free to leave, for example, to go
to the hospital or shopping in Vavuniya city (Department
would appreciate Embassy Colombo's assessment of whether this
is true).  The reality, he argued, is that these people have
no place to go.  The government offered the elderly the
opportunity to leave, but they chose to remain.  Likewise,
45,000 IDPs from Jaffna Peninsula have chosen to remain in
the camps because there is no housing on Jaffna.  Basic
infrastructure and housing in conflict-affected areas in the
North have been completely destroyed, Rajapaksa maintained,
though electricity provision is underway and irrigation
reconstruction is commencing.  Family and friends are not, in
most cases, a viable option; it is a significant financial
burden for a poor family to take on even one person. 

---------
DE-MINING
--------- 

7.  (C) Rajapaksa surmised that if the GSL was to allow IDPs
to go wherever they wanted, there would be significant
casualties from landmines.  Blake said the U.S. could
consider doing more to assist in the demining area, if
freedom of movement is assured.  Rajapaksa said that many
promises from the international community of demining
assistance have not been fulfilled.  The military alone
successfully de-mined seventy percent of the East.  He asked
that the U.S. provide demining equipment to the government
directly and demand accountability.  He suggested the Embassy
could create a mechanism to ensure such accountability.  He
questioned the utility of the demining assistance the U.S.
has provided to NGOs that were not, he said, working
productively.  A/S Blake reiterated that assurances on
freedom of movement would help us make the case for
additional assistance, and suggested removing the barbed wire
and allowing the press to witness it and free movement of
camp residents. 

-----------------------
POLITICAL RECONCILIATION
----------------------- 

8.  (C) Blake questioned why President Rajapaksa announced
his intent to delay steps on devolution until after
presidential and parliamentary elections in spring 2010, when
opposition political parties are so weak.  Progress on this
area would net Tamil votes that could more than offset any
loss of support from nationalists, whereas continued delay in
announcing political reconciliation efforts would further
diminish the President's Tamil support.  Rajapaksa reiterated 

STATE 00100197  003 OF 004 

SUBJECT: SCA ASSISTANT SECRETARY BLAKE'S SEPTEMBER 24,
2009 MEETING WITH SRI LANKAN DEFENSE SECRETARY GOTABHAYA
RAJAPAK
that the President wants Tamil votes and said his party
expects to win them in the Eastern Province.  The President
knew he would lose in Vavuniya municipality to the opposition
Tamil National Alliance, so soon after the fighting, but was
okay with that.  The President's concern is that the
nationalist People,s Liberation Front (JVP) has tried to
destabilize the government by suggesting that the President
aims to sacrifice the hard-won victory of the Army.  He
attributed rumors about Chief of Defense Staff Fonseka's
presidential candidacy to these machinations. 

9.  (C) Rajapaksa said the President was committed to
devolution, but that the 13th Amendment would require
adjustment before it could be implemented.  Right now, police
authority would devolve to the Chief Minister; and the only
Tamil Chief Minister would be in the Northern Province.
Chief Ministers have no national or international
obligations; the GSL wants more Tamil-speaking representation
among the police. 

10.  (C) What is most important, said Blake, is that everyone
should feel that they are equal as Sri Lankans and share the
same rights.  That is not the case right now for Tamils.
Rajapaksa blamed the LTTE, and pointed again to the East
where there is "full freedom."  He urged A/S Blake to have
confidence in the GSL.  He regretted that there was too much
"speculation, talking and shouting."  We know the situation
is not perfect, he said.  "The conflict was long and hard,"
and society has benefitted greatly from the LTTE's defeat.
Rajapaksa pleaded that he had not received the credit he
deserved for disarming the LTTE cadres and the
paramilitaries.  He has outlawed ransom payments and
threatened to prosecute anyone who pays bribes or ransom.
The government wants people, even former hardcore LTTE, to
live a normal life.  Blake suggested that the GSL engage the
Tamil diaspora community, which could provide financial
resources for reconstruction in the north, if the GSL can
convince them of iyts good intentions.  He suggested that the
GSL consider starting a non-profit organization that could
receive contributions from overseas for reconstruction and
rehabilitation.  Rajapaksa told Blake that the GSL has
started reaching out to Tamils in Colombo; Ambassador
Wickramasuriya said the Embassy has begun to do so in the
U.S. as well.  "People who want to settle problems are not
aggressive," Rajapaksa said. 

--------------
ACCOUNTABILITY
-------------- 

11.  (C) Blake said that the report requested by Congress on
potential violations of international humanitarian law and
crimes against humanity committed during the final stages of
the conflict is expected to be released in mid to late
October.  It is secondary source reporting and we will make
sure it is identified as such, Blake said.  However, part of
political reconciliation is identifying an accountability
process to deal with past human rights abuses and look at
what occurred in the final stages of the war.  Rajapaksa
responded that commissions like these are going to tear the
people apart, suggesting that LTTE supporters would exploit
the process.  He said the government did a lot to control
wide-scale abuses, such as those, he implied, that had
occurred in the past.  Mass rape and village massacres did
not occur during the GSL's campaign, and he pointed again to
the positive overall experience in the Eastern Province.  In
that case, said Blake, the GSL had nothing to fear from a
national dialogue and reconciliation.  Rajapaksa said the
government is committed to winning hearts and minds, but it
has only been three months since the end of fighting. 

---------------------------------
BUILDING U.S.-SRI LANKA RELATIONS
--------------------------------- 

STATE 00100197  004 OF 004 

12.  (C) Rajapaksa emphasized to Blake his personal
commitment to developing relations with the United States,
pointing to the strong personal connections between the
United States and his country's leadership.  (Note: Rajapaksa
himself is a U.S. citizen.  End Note.)  Blake said the U.S.
shares this desire, but we need to see progress on the issues
discussed.  Evidence of freedom of movement, for example,
would go a long way toward that end.
CLINTON

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