484. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Sri Lanka1

88473. Subject: Message to President Jayewardene From President Carter.

1. (C–Entire text)

2. Please pass the following message from President Carter to President Jayewardene. There will be no signed original.

3. When Ambassador Toussaint delivers the message, he should use the occasion to bring to Jayewardene’s attention the material on [Page 1101] the Non-Aligned Movement that has been sent out in three recent messages: State 075059,2 075464,3 and 076639.4

4. Begin text

His Excellency

Junius Richard Jayewardene

President of the Democratic Socialist

Republic of Sri Lanka


Dear Mr. President:

I very much appreciated your warm letter of February 22,5 and the message which Finance Minister De Mel conveyed to me through Secretary Vance.6

As you stated so eloquently, our two countries have long shared a deep attachment to democracy and the realization of human rights. In fact, the friendship we enjoy has roots that go back many decades. The world would be better able to rise to the growing challenges it confronts if the commitment to democracy and human rights that Sri Lanka has made were more universal and your willingness to embark on pragmatic economic programs more widespread. Sri Lanka’s fine record in these areas have a real effect on the level of economic assistance provided by the United States, and we will continue to support your nation’s development. I am pleased to tell you that the increase [Page 1102] in our planned development assistance to Sri Lanka in the next fiscal year is the largest percentage increase for any Asian nation. As you will understand, however, the United States is also facing unprecedented inflation, and I have had to ask my countrymen to make real sacrifices. Thus there is not much prospect for any additional increase in planned foreign assistance levels. Ambassador Toussaint will be discussing this subject with your government. I hope that the United States investment mission sent to Sri Lanka under the auspices of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation will benefit both our countries and contribute to the success of the liberalized economic policies you have instituted.7

Secretary Vance has already told Minister De Mel how much we appreciate the forthright foreign policy position your government intends to take as a result of the Soviet aggression in Afghanistan.

In that connection, I would also like you to know how concerned I am about the direction of the Non-Aligned Movement. It is discouraging that the Cuban chairmanship had made it so difficult for the NAM to express the outrage most of its members feel about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I am particularly troubled by the prospect of the loss of President Tito, who has played such a major role in keeping the movement truly non-aligned. I know how much you contributed to this effort in Havana;8 it is critical that leaders such as yourself persist. Perhaps you could also bring your personal influence to bear on Mrs. Gandhi and encourage her to keep India’s voice one of true non-alignment. Let me also say how very pleased I was by your positive response to my State of the Union message. The new approaches you propose to adopt are significant developments in the effort to maintain and enhance regional security. They reflect your longstanding dedication to world peace and freedom and your commitment to the stability and independence of South Asia. All who share this commitment—and I count myself among them—must be grateful to you.

[Page 1103]


Jimmy Carter

End text.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800202–0261, D800190–0376, D800168–0654. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted in the White House; cleared in NEA, S/S, and S/S–O; approved by Schaffer.
  2. In telegram 75059 to all diplomatic posts, March 21, the Department provided background information for discussions with host countries’ governments regarding comparisons between Communist and Western aid to LDCs: “In 1976–1978, total Communist country economic aid to LDCs accounted for less than four percent of worldwide net aid disbursements. US assistance alone was almost six times larger than all Communist country aid.” The Department continued: “Western bilateral aid is offered on far more concessional terms than that given by USSR.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800144–0524)
  3. Telegram 75464 to all diplomatic posts, March 21, provided background information on recent U.S. defense policy, including the defense budget, the MX missile, and the deployment of long-range nuclear forces in Europe. In the telegram, the Department noted: “The Soviets (and Cubans) are seeking to portray these decisions as contributing to the growth of international tension and as diverting sizeable sums from economic development. In fact, these decisions were taken against the background of the relentless growth of Moscow’s expenditures for military systems across the board.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800145–0435)
  4. In telegram 76639 to multiple posts, March 22, the Department discussed the U.S. approach to the NAM, in light of its lack of forceful opposition to the Soviet intervention to Afghanistan: the “Department view that best course for US and allies during Cuban NAM chairmanship is to deal with particular non-aligned countries on specific issues better than with NAM per se.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800147–0330) Cuba chaired the NAM from 1979 to 1983.
  5. See Document 483.
  6. See Document 482.
  7. In telegram 2521 from Colombo, May 28, the Embassy reported: “Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) investment mission to Sri Lanka May 12–16 was both a success and a disappointment. On the positive side, it demonstrated U.S. interest and support for Sri Lanka’s effort to achieve economic development through foreign private direct investment. A joint investment agreement of $5 million in a ceramics plant ($4 million from the U.S. divided about equally between equity and loans and $1 million local capital also equally divided) was concluded, and several other investment actions are under discussion. On the negative side, the mission could have benefitted from stronger membership. GSL attached special importance to mission knowing the size, wealth, advanced technology and central role played by private sector in the highly developed American economy. Mission was one of a series of similar foreign investment missions to come to Sri Lanka over the past 15 months with encouragement and support of Sri Lanka Government and private sector.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800266–0542)
  8. See footnote 2, Document 478.