What Blake really said

There’s been a bit of an uproar about some comments made by the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert Blake. Reportedly,

In an interactive session at the University of Madras on Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake rejected Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s view that political talks could come only after the LTTE was wiped out or disarmed. “A military solution is going to be very, very difficult,” he said, citing Sri Lankan Army Chief Sarath Fonseka’s statement that even if the Army occupied all of northern Sri Lanka, a residual guerrilla force of at least a thousand LTTE fighters would go underground. [DailyMirror]

It’s not clear whether it is indeed a contradiction of the government position. I think the government’s stated position is similar to that of the ambassador. The source of the confusion seems to be this Hindu article. It could be that Hindu’s correspondent misinterpreted the Ambassador,

The U.S. Embassy website carries the full speech by the Ambassador at the University of Madras. People can judge for themselves.  Here’s a relevant excerpt:

America’s experience in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere has taught us that terrorism cannot be defeated by law enforcement and military measures alone.  That is why President Bush has made the promotion of democracy one of the centerpieces of American foreign policy.  And that is why the U.S. and other Co-Chair countries have urged the Government of Sri Lanka to adopt now a political solution to the conflict within the framework of a united Sri Lanka that meets the aspirations of all of Sri Lanka’s communities.  One way forward is for Sri Lanka to complete the work of the All Parties Representative Committee which has reached agreement on 90% of a blueprint for constitutional reform that most Sri Lankans believe offers great promise.  It remains for the country’s two main Sinhalese parties to agree on the document, which has proved a significant hurdle thus far.

One reason for the lack of recent progress on a consensus APRC document, is that some in Sri Lanka believe that the Government should first defeat the LTTE and then proceed with a political solution.  The U.S. view is that the Government could further isolate and weaken the LTTE if it articulates now its vision for a political solution.  This would help reassure the more than 200,000 IDPs now in the Vanni that they can move south and aspire to a better future.  It would also disprove the LTTE’s claim that they are the sole representative of Sri Lanka’s Tamils and the only ones who care about Sri Lanka’s Tamils.  Finally it would help to persuade Tamils in Canada, the US and other parts of the diaspora to stop funding the LTTE which in turn would hasten an end to the conflict.  The U.S. also believes that an improvement in the human rights situation — that has disproportionately affected Tamils — would help to hasten reconciliation and give Tamils a greater sense that they will enjoy a future of hope and dignity within a united Sri Lanka. [..]

The whole thing here. The speech doesn’t have the Fonseka reference cited by the Hindu correspondent, possibly the reference was part of Q&A.



One response to “What Blake really said

  1. Well, he said the same thing when we met him last month and certainly the Hindu Correspondent may have misinterpreted… He was very strong on his opinion that the war can be ended. Most importantly he was very very pro-Mahinda.

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