American Diplomatic Cable: The United States and India Must “See Eye-to-Eye on Nepal”

2006-02-27 11:56

S E C R E T KATHMANDU 000566

SIPDIS
NOFORN
SIPDIS

NSC FOR MILLARD/RICHELSOPH
DEPT FOR SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR PINS IN NP
SUBJECT: INDIAN AMBASSADOR: SUMMIT AN IDEAL OPPORTUNITY TO PRESSURE KING

REF: KATHMANDU 473

Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty, reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary
——-

ś1. (S/NF) Indian Ambassador Mukherjee believes it important
that we show the King and the people of Nepal that we remain
closely lashed up with respect to handling the situation
here. In a February 27 conversation, Mukherjee suggested
that it would be particularly useful if the President and
Prime Minister Singh discussed Nepal during their upcoming
conversations and pointed out that fact publicly. Mukherjee
agreed that pressure was building on King Gyanendra and hoped
that staying the course and encouraging peaceful activities
by the parties would lead to positive change; he shied away
from my suggestions that the GOI might consider options to
significantly up the ante on the King. Mukherjee noted that
he had been pushing Nepal’s political parties to push the
Maoists in a peaceful direction and would urge India’s
intelligence agencies to begin giving a similarly tough
message to the Maoists.

Doing Good Work with the Political Parties
——————————————

ś2. (C) I met with Indian Ambassador Mukherjee at his request
on February 27. He began by pointing out that he had
followed up on his commitment to encourage the political
parties to press the Maoists to live up to their commitments
regarding non-violence (ref.). He had told the parties that
my public comments on the subject had merely reinforced the
long-standing principle of the parties themselves that the
Maoists would have to prove their sincerity not just through
lip service, but also through actions on the ground. Some of
the parties had pushed back at first, but all had eventually
acknowledged the need to verify the sincerity of the Maoists.
I replied that I had seen articles in the press that had
made it clear that Mukherjee had been urging the parties to
use their contacts with the Maoists to urge moderation, and I
thanked him for his efforts in this regard.

Keeping Pressure on the King
—————————-

ś3. (C) Mukherjee readily agreed with my statement that the
King appeared to be under increasing pressure both
domestically and internationally. He noted that both China
and Japan were increasingly pressing Gyanendra to compromise
and that the King’s domestic support continued to decline.
The military was increasingly worried about the security
situation and the lack of progress on the political front:
the miserable showing by the RNA during the mid-February
ambush in Nawalparasi District suggested that morale was
alarming and could have a negative impact on morale.
Meanwhile, the parties hoped to mobilize increasing numbers
of people for their peaceful demonstrations in the coming
weeks.

ś4. (C) I told Ambassador Mukherjee that there was
considerable concern in Washington that, if the King did not
begin to reconcile with the parties soon, the situation here
might spin out of control. Mukherjee replied that many in
New Delhi shared such concerns: he personally had told the
Prime Minister during an early-February visit home that India
needed to keep the pressure on the King, while not doing
anything that could lead to serious advances by the Maoists.
Mukherjee had insisted to the Prime Minister that, for now,
the GOI had to wait and watch the situation in Nepal closely.
By the end of April, Mukherjee speculated, it would be
clearer whether the mounting pressure would convince the King
to compromise, or whether the Maoists were able to convert
their current momentum into serious gains. (Note: March and
April are, with respect to the weather, the best months for
demonstrations in the Kathmandu Valley. The parties have put
in place stepped-up plans for peaceful protests during those
E

months, while the Maoists have announced a general strike for
mid-March and a nationwide strike for early April. The
Maoists will presumably enforce their strikes with violence.)

Less Desirable Options
———————-

ś5. (S/NF) Mukherejee agreed that both our governments would
likely have to provide emergency assistance to the Nepali
government if the security situation deteriorated
dramatically in the coming weeks; we also agreed, however,
that throwing the King a lifeline to save him from his own
obstinacy would be a difficult policy prescription to follow
in both Washington and New Delhi and would be accepted only
in the face of a huge and immediate threat from the Maoists.
In that context, I asked Mukherjee again whether he thought
there would be any support in New Delhi for having Washington
and New Delhi (and presumably London) issue an ultimatum to
the King: either begin meaningful reconciliation with the
parties immediately, or the international community would
commence severe sanctions against his regime. I acknowledged
that India would have to bear the brunt of implementing the
most effective possible sanctions: seizing royal family
assets, banning royal family travel, closing the border to
trade. Mukherjee immediately replied that New Delhi would be
very unlikely to agree to such a proposal: Prime Minister
Singh had made it clear that the GOI should do nothing that
would hurt the people of Nepal.

Keeping the Intelligence Agencies in Line
—————————————–

ś6. (S/NF) I reminded Ambassador Mukherjee that Washington
was becoming discomforted by all-too-credible rumors that
Indian intelligence agencies were squiring the top leaders of
the Maoists around New Delhi and arranging interviews for
them. Mukherjee replied that he had neither the ability nor
the desire to know exactly what the Indian intelligence
agencies were up to. He added, however, that he would be
communicating to those agencies that, in whatever contacts
they had with the Maoists, they needed to stress: that the
GOI would do everything necessary to prevent them from
establishing a one-party dictatorship in Nepal; that they
would be judged not by their statements, but by their
actions; and that the only way they could return to the
political mainstream in Nepal would be by foreswearing
violence and abandoning their weapons.

Comment
——-

ś7. (C) This was an encouraging meeting. Mukherjee clearly
wanted to ensure that, on the eve of the President’s visit to
New Delhi, GOI and USG policy on Nepal were as much as
possible in synch. I agree with him completely that the best
means to keep productive pressure on the King is to make it
clear that the leaders of our two countries are working
together, and see eye-to-eye, on Nepal.

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