American Diplomatic Cable: American to Meet Maoist Baburam?

Yeah, that was back in 2003 when, we belive, Baburam hadn’t even dreamed of being the Prime Minister that he is today 🙂

2003-04-16 09:59
C O N F I D E N T I A L KATHMANDU 000691 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR SA/INS AND DS/IP/SA
LONDON FOR POL - GURNEY 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/15/2013
TAGS: PTER PREL NP
SUBJECT: NEPAL:  MAOISTS TO MEET EMBOFFS 

REF: A. (A) KATHMANDU 0677 

     śB. (B) STATE 90666
     śC. (C) STATE 74113
     śD. (D) KATHMANDU 0621 

Classified By: AMB. MICHAEL E. MALINOWSKI.  REASON:  1.5 (B,D). 

ś1.  (C)  Following Ref C guidance, on April 16 poloff
contacted known Maoist sympathizer Padma Ratna Tuladhar to
convey Embassy agreement to meet at the First Secretary level
with Maoist representatives.  Poloff advised Tuladhar that
the RSO will also participate in the meeting, which has been
tentatively scheduled for the afternoon of Friday, April 25,
at the Embassy.


ś2.  (C)  Poloff stipulated that the meeting will be
contingent upon Maoist conduct during the upcoming strikes
scheduled by various student unions (Ref A).  Tuladhar
protested that the Maoists are not sponsoring the strikes and
cannot be held accountable for them.  Poloff countered that
the Embassy will indeed hold the Maoists responsible for the
behavior of its affiliated student union and reminded him
that Maoist leader Baburam Bhattarai had been quoted in the
press as saying the Maoists "support" the strikes.  She added
that there must be no press coverage of the meeting.
Tuladhar agreed that the appointment would be kept
"confidential."  He promised to contact poloff with the names
and dates of birth of the proposed participants. ś3.  
(C)  Comment:  It remains to be seen whether Baburam
Bhattarai will accept a meeting held at the more modest level
of First Secretary, rather than Ambassador.  Tuladhar's
dissembling notwithstanding, we expect the Maoists will
attempt to exploit any meeting for publicity purposes.  If
so, we will use the press guidance provided in Ref B.

An EU Diplomat Pisses Off His Colleagues in Kathmandu By Meeting Baburam

2003-04-11 10:37

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 000671 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR SA/INS
LONDON FOR POL - GURNEY 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/10/2013
TAGS: PTER PREL EU NP
SUBJECT: NEPALI MAOISTS MEET WITH EU MISSION HEAD 

REF: (A) KATHMANDU 0621 

Classified By: AMB MICHAEL E. MALINOWSKI.  REASON:  1.5(B,D). 

-------
SUMMARY
-------- 

ś1.  (C)  The head of the European Union office in Kathmandu
broke ranks with his diplomatic colleagues and met with
Maoist ideologue Baburam Bhattarai and other Maoist leaders
in Kathmandu on April 10.  The EU Charge justified his
"spontaneous" decision to meet the insurgent leader on
humanitarian grounds, in order to stress the importance of
allowing EU-sponsored development work to proceed unhindered
in the countryside.  He also argued that since he does not
hold the rank of Ambassador, his meeting did not confer undue
legitimacy on the insurgents.  While other diplomatic
missions contacted by the Maoists, including our own Embassy,
have not yet responded to Maoist requests for similar
meetings, all agree that any meeting should take place below
the level of Ambassador or Charge.  End summary. 

------------------------------
EU TETE-A-TETE WITH MILITANTS
------------------------------ 

ś2.  (SBU)  Maoist insurgent leaders, who have been seeking
meetings with the heads of the US, UK, Indian, Chinese, and
EU Missions in Kathmandu for the past week (reftel), scored
their first victory when Charge d'Affaires Rudiger Wenk, who
heads the Delegation of the European Commission in Nepal, met
Maoist ideologue Baburam Bhattarai in Kathmandu on April 10.
Bhattarai, named by the insurgents to coordinate dialogue
with the Government of Nepal (GON), was accompanied to the
meeting by fellow Central Committee members Ram Bahadur
"Badal" Thapa and Krishna Mahara.  A gaggle of reporters
followed the Maoists to the EU building, but were prevented
from entering the compound. 

--------------------------------------------- ------
MEETING DEFENDED ON PROTOCOL, HUMANITARIAN GROUNDS
--------------------------------------------- ------ 

ś3.  (C) Wenk told the DCM the following day that his decision
to meet the Maoists was a "spontaneous" one that he defended
on both humanitarian and protocol grounds.  He felt it
important to communicate to the Maoist leadership the
difficulty of continuing EU-sponsored development projects in
rural areas affected by the insurgency.  Noting that the
Maoists had burned a number of EU project vehicles in some
areas, he added that he had wanted to meet with them for some
time on the matter but could not obtain clearance from the EU
hierarchy to do so.  When he was contacted with the request
on the morning of April 10, he thus decided to use the
opportunity to press those points.  (Note:  Wenk said he had
been informally contacted before the day of the meeting
through "leftist channels," but had not recieved the same
form letter as had the US, UK, Indian and Chinese Embassies
asking for an appointment.  End note.) 

ś4.  (C) Because he does not hold the rank of Ambassador, Wenk
further reasoned, his meeting the Maoists would not confer
undue status or legitimacy on the insurgents.  Because the
European Commission is "strictly apolitical," he contended,
the Maoists cannot exploit the meeting for political ends.
He added that he provided his interlocutors with a detailed
explanation of the EU's organization--differentiating between
the EU and the European Commission and pointing out that the
EU Ambassador is in New Delhi and that Wenk is Charge only
for the Commission--to underscore his comparatively modest
rank.  (Note:  These subtleties were apparently lost on the
Maoists, whose press statements after the meeting crowed that
the "EU envoy" had met them.  End note.)  He did not alert
the EU Ambassador in New Delhi, EU headquarters, the Chiefs
of Mission of EU member nations in Kathmandu, or the GON
before meeting with the Maoists.  Wenk added that the British
Ambassador was angry (as are we) when he learned of the
meeting through the local press.  He promised to brief the
Foreign Ministry on the meeting next week. 

------------------
MAOISTS' MESSAGE
------------------ 

ś5.  (C)  Wenk described the atmosphere of the meeting as
"friendly" and "relaxed."  The Maoists' main message,
according to Wenk, was their dissatisfaction with the GON's
alleged lack of cooperation in the peace process.  They also
expressed concern about "foreign intervention" in Nepal,
particularly military assistance.  Wenk said he replied that
the EU Parliament had passed a resolution in 2002 offering to
mediate in the conflict between the Maoists and the GON, but
had received no response.  His Maoist interlocutors blamed
India and China for squelching any efforts at third-party
mediation.  (Comment:  Wenk either ignores or is ignorant of
the sensitivities regarding international mediation here.
The GON--and the Indians--have a well-known position in
rejecting international mediation at this time.)  The DCM
asked if Wenk had pressed the Maoists to work with the
Parliamentary parties.  Bhattarai had assured him that the
Maoists support multiparty democracy, Wenk answered, but
would never join the current interim government. 

ś6.  (C)  Wenk told the DCM he did not rely solely on
previously cleared EU guidance in his discussion with the
Maoists.  (According to the UK Ambassador, this guidance
stipulated that any discussion take place below the level of
Ambassador; that EU representatives be in "listening mode";
that discussion be limited to development topics; and that
there be no publicity.)  For example, when the Maoists told
him that they intended to publicize the meeting, he
acquiesced, stipulating only that they provide the press with
an accurate read-out.  (Note:  The Maoists appear, for the
most part, to have done so.  According to Wenk, the only
inaccuracy--so far--in the press account was the assertion
that he had "pledged every kind of assistance to the rebels"
in their efforts toward peace.  End note.)  The DCM asked if
Wenk pursued with his interlocutors their frequent threats to
break the ceasefire and return to violence if the GON fails
to meet their demands.  Wenk replied that he understands the
Maoists' frustration, charging that the GON is trying to
"starve them out" by delaying the beginning of negotiations. 

---------------------------
OTHER EMBASSIES' REACTIONS
---------------------------- 

ś7.  (C) Since receiving the Maoists' request (reftel), we
have polled other Embassies to hear their views on meeting
the Maoists.  Like us, the British and Indians believe any
meeting should take place at a mid-level.  The UK Embassy has
received clearance from FCO to hold a meeting at that level,
but, like us, is in no hurry to respond to the Maoist
invitation.  The Indians have not yet received guidance from
New Delhi.  The Chinese are not contemplating a meeting at
any level because, according to First Secretary Cheng Ji,
they have no wish to interfere in Nepal's internal affairs.
The Japanese have not been requested to meet. 

--------
COMMENT
-------- 

ś8.  (C)  The Maoists have been publicizing in the media their
requests to meet with heads of prominent foreign missions,
and have been more than a little chagrined at the cool
reception to their invitations.  The meeting with Wenk, which
was not briefed to the GON in advance and was not sanctioned
either by the EU hierarchy, his EU supervisor in New Delhi,
or by EU member Embassies in Nepal, has provided the Maoists
some face-saving cover.  Wenk's diplomatic irresponsibility,
his apparent sympathy for the Maoists' viewpoint and his
acceptance of their political pretensions at face value
betray a surprising naivete about the insurgents' real aims
and intentions.  We will continue to coordinate closely with
other diplomatic missions on any eventual meetings.
MALINOWSKI
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