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Viewing cable 06REYKJAVIK294, ICELAND: PEACEKEEPERS STICKING IT OUT IN SRI LANKA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06REYKJAVIK294 2006-08-14 18:06 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXRO9994
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ
DE RUEHRK #0294 2261800
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141800Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2912
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0003
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0012
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0228
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0009
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 0013
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0053
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCOPLF/NAS KEFLAVIK IC
UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000294 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB, SCA/INS 
OSLO FOR DATT 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL KPKO CE IC
SUBJECT:  ICELAND: PEACEKEEPERS STICKING IT OUT IN SRI LANKA 
 
REFS: A) STATE 128399 (NOTAL) 
 
  B) USEU 2754 (NOTAL) 
  C) HELSINKI 783 (NOTAL) 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: According to MFA officials, Iceland will probably 
maintain or even expand its peace monitoring mission in Sri Lanka 
following the withdrawal of EU peacekeepers, despite renewed media 
questioning of the appropriateness of Icelandic participation in 
peacekeeping in combat zones.  The death or injury of an Icelander 
in Sri Lanka could have a grave impact on the GOI's stated plans to 
double its peacekeeping participation by 2008.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.(SBU) Ministry for Foreign Affairs officials have confirmed to 
post that Iceland has no plans to withdraw its peacekeepers from the 
Nordic-run Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) following the 
withdrawal last month of the Swedish, Danish and Finnish SLMM 
contingents after the Liberation Tigers questioned the EU's 
neutrality.  Iceland currently has five personnel assigned to the 
SLMM, now staffed only by Norwegians and Icelanders after the 
withdrawal of personnel from the three EU member states. 
 
3.  (SBU) Acting Director of the Iceland Crisis Response Unit (ICRU) 
Thorbjorn Jonsson told Poloff August 2 that the GOI intends to stay 
the course in Sri Lanka and may expand its SLMM staffing if the 
mission is unable to recruit new states as participants (Jonsson 
specifically mentioned Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore as 
possible contributors).  On August 8, Advisor to the Foreign 
Minister Jorundur Valtysson told Poloff that the ICRU would "more 
than likely" send an additional five Icelanders to Sri Lanka, but 
that a final decision would depend on consultations between 
Icelandic Foreign Minister Valgerdur Sverrisdottir, her Norwegian 
counterpart (expected here on August 14), and Sri Lanka Special 
Envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer (due here August 18). 
 
4. (SBU) The EU members' withdrawal, however, has raised the 
mission's profile considerably here, and sparked questions in the 
media regarding the appropriateness of continuing Iceland's 
participation, let alone expanding it.  Jonsson and Valtysson both 
dismissed increasingly skeptical coverage - including an August 2 
editorial in leading daily Morgunbladid suggesting that Iceland 
should call its monitors home - as the product of "slow news days" 
at the height of summer holiday season.  Prime Minister Geir Haarde 
has said that no decision had been taken and that it might even be 
necessary to withdraw Iceland's monitors from the mission. 
 
5. (SBU) The killing of 17 humanitarian workers in Sri Lanka on 
August 6 has given the story new legs. 
Morgunbladid, expanding on its earlier doubts, questioned in an 
August 9 editorial whether Icelanders should take part in any 
military-related peacekeeping operations anywhere given that 
Iceland, as a country without its own military, "has not trained 
people to work in areas where military attacks can happen without 
warning."  The editorial revived criticism of Icelandic civilian 
peacekeepers in Afghanistan, whose penchant for carrying arms and 
wearing battle dress uniform has in the past led Icelandic media and 
politicians to debate the existential question of when does a 
peacekeeper become a warrior. 
 
6.  (SBU) Comment: Absent a direct attack on SLMM personnel before 
Hanssen-Bauer's August 18 visit here, we expect the GOI to proceed 
with its plans to expand Icelandic participation in the mission. 
However, given current media attention, the death or injury of an 
Icelander in Sri Lanka could have a grave impact on the GOI's stated 
plans to double its peacekeeping participation by 2008. 
 
VAN VOORST