By Dianne Silva
The Sri Lankan government’s attempt to establish diplomatic ties with the state of Eritrea have diminished due to certain media reports published in recent times, Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told Daily Mirror online.
“It came out in the papers and now Eritrea has completely shut down everything; they don’t talk to us and they completely cut us off,” the Defense Secretary said in an interview with the website.
Further all plans to establish a Sri Lankan consulate in Eritrea, in order to monitor various LTTE elements within that nation, have also failed. “There were plans to open a consulate there; but even that they refused,” the Defense Secretary said.
He further emphasized that the exposure of defense matters via the media was counter productive, in gathering information.
“We had very bad experiences with Eritrea. We know that there are certain assets that belong to the LTTE; but because it came out in a newspaper they refused to cooperate with us. Now we are in the process of redeveloping our ties with them, from scratch,” Rajapaksa said.
The Secretary of Defense made these statements in response to the questions of whether elements of the LTTE were trying to regroup and what intelligence was being gathered through the chief LTTE arms procurer Kumaran Padmanadan (KP) who is now in government custody.
Rajapaksa noted that a number of countries were unaware that operations taking place within their boundaries were fueling the interests of the LTTE. “There are different businesses they (LTTE) were running and for those countries these were legitimate business. Therefore if we had not given the information these governments would not know; that these are LTTE businesses,” he said.
However he claimed that western countries were affronted if the Sri Lankan government made public the fact that such elements were operating within their borders. “Naming countries is of no use, because when we name the country those countries don’t like it. Those countries don’t want to know that certain LTTE groups were operating within their borders and we had a very bad experience with Eritrea,” he said.
When asked about confronting LTTE elements internationally the Secretary explained that the western block was not always cooperative. “With most countries it is easy but with the western countries it is very difficult because there is a very big pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora and we don’t get much cooperation from western countries; especially the European countries. So without their cooperation it is very difficult to catch these people,” he said.
He further noted that the LTTE was trying to legitimize itself in order to deceive certain governments and gain their support. “Therefore what they (the LTTE) could not achieve through military means they will try to achieve through other means with the help of these governments. And this is why they are trying to establish this Transnational Government of Tamil Elam,” he said.
He conceded however that a large majority of the Diaspora was hoping for reconciliation within the island. “But what I see is that although there is a big Tamil Diaspora, the majority of them are moderates and don’t support the Elam concept. Most of them want to come back to Sri Lank and live peacefully,” he said.
Meanwhile, there are no plans to present KP before court; however information provided by him has been invaluable to government intelligence. “We are yet to decide on the matter of presenting him before court. We are still in the process of gathering information, from him because he was a person who was working with the LTTE especially on international affairs, business and procurement. Therefore we want to get as much information as possible and especially to break into their (the LTTE) network and get their assets,” the Secretary said. (Daily Mirror online)
Read the full interview: http://www.dailymirror.lk/index.php/component/content/article/132-political-features/1926-one-on-one-with-the-defense-secretary.html