NEPAL: INDIAN AMBASSADOR REPORTS ADVANCES IN BILATERAL SECURITY COOPERATION
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 001870
STATE FOR SA/INS
NSC FOR MILLARD
LONDON FOR POL – GURNEY
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/23/2013
TAGS: PREL PTER MCAP PGOV IN NP
SUBJECT: NEPAL: INDIAN AMBASSADOR REPORTS ADVANCES IN BILATERAL SECURITY COOPERATION
REF: A. KATHMANDU 1859
¶B. KATHMANDU 1692
Classified By: AMB. MICHAEL E. MALINOWSKI. REASON: 1.5(B,D).
——- SUMMARY ——–
¶1. (S/NF) According to Indian Ambassador Shyam Saran, bilateral consultations between Indian and Nepali security and intelligence officers in Kathmandu on Sept 22-23 proceeded “”exceptionally well”” as a first step in institutionalizing security assistance and information exchange between the two governments. The GOI believes it can provide most of Nepal’s requirements for conventional military equipment, according to Saran, and looks to the USG to provide “”high-tech”” equipment. New initiatives include regularizing contacts between the two countries’ respective border security units and GOI training on how to counter urban terrorism. While both Ambassadors agreed that their efforts to promote a reconciliation between the political parties and the Palace had not so far proven successful, Saran reported that the Government of Nepal (GON) is considering holding phased national and local elections in 2004. End summary.
PROGRESS ON BILATERAL DEFENSE COOPERATION
¶2. (C) On September 24 Indian Ambassador Shyam Saran called on the Ambassador to brief him on progress achieved during bilateral consultations between Indian and Nepali security and intelligence officials in Kathmandu Sept. 22-23 (Ref A). The initial round of talks went “”exceptionally well,”” Saran reported, characterizing them as the “”most serious and cooperative”” discussions on security, military, and intelligence topics ever between the two neighbors. The next round is expected to be held in New Delhi in November.
¶3. (S/NF) Saran said the talks focused on three topics. First, the discussions helped clarify new Government of Nepal (GON) requests for equipment, which included among other items mine-protected vehicles (MPVs), jeeps, and INSAS rifles. Saran said the GOI would try to be responsive to the new GON requests and may attempt to transfer some MPVs currently in Jharkand to Nepal. (Those vehicles would have to undergo some kind of refurbishment.) Second, since recent Royal Nepal Army (RNA) successes in the field increase the danger of the Maoists modifying their tactics and diverting their attacks to urban environments, the GOI offered to provide training on how to counter urban terrorism, Saran reported. Third, the two governments have agreed to revitalize intelligence exchanges, especially regarding cross-border movement of suspected terrorists. The smooth exchange of information had been hampered in the past because the RNA, which is primarily responsible for border security in Nepal, had no institutional links with the IB, which is responsible for border security in India. The talks addressed how to institutionalize the relationship between the two forces, including setting up formal channels of communication (with secure “”hotlines””) at IB offices in Siliguri, Patna and Lucknow. Communications will be supplemented by regular meetings between representatives of the two security forces at additional local venues as well. Saran added that the GOI plans to increase the number of border security force units along the border with Nepal from 14 to 34.
¶4. (C) After Nepal’s Dashain-Tihar holidays in October, the two governments will pursue conclusion of extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties, Saran said. Talks on this subject over the past few days had gone well, he reported, with many earlier hurdles, including the sticky topic of how to treat third-country nationals, resolved, he reported. Extradition of one’s own nationals remains a sensitive topic, however. In the past, Saran explained, the GOI had regularly turned over suspected Maoists to the GON without a formal treaty–earning criticism from human rights groups and INGOs such as ICRC in the process. The wife of Maoist Central Committee member Bam Dev Chhetri, whom the GOI had handed over in September 2002 (and who was subsequently released by the GON during the ceasefire), has filed a case against the GOI, he noted. An extradition treaty with Nepal would give the GOI a firm legal basis for such transfers in the future.
INDIAN VIEWS ON US SECURITY ASSISTANCE
¶5. (C) By having the GON prioritize its security needs, the GOI will be better able to provide assistance, Saran continued. While the GOI has no objection per se to the USG providing M-16 rifles to the RNA, the GOI believes that it is in a better position to provide conventional weapons like rifles to the Nepali military, and that the USG should offer “”high-tech”” equipment and assistance. Ambassador Malinowski replied that while final funding levels remain unknown, the USG is reviewing the possibility of providing refurbished Bell helicopters to the RNA. Saran noted that the GOI may provide a few Indian helicopters as well.
NO PROGRESS ON POLITICAL FRONT
¶6. (C) Both Ambassadors agreed that their joint efforts, along with the British Ambassador, to promote a reconciliation between the political parties and the Palace (Ref B) had not so far proven fruitful. The fragile consensus between the political parties is already beginning to unravel, both noted, with the Nepali Congress hinting it will insist that revival of Parliament precede formation of an all-party government and the Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist (UML) hinting it will insist on the exact opposite. Nonetheless, the Ambassadors concurred that the GON will have to reach out to the political parties. Saran reported that he understands that the King may decide to meet the parties to enlist their support and is also considering a possible Cabinet expansion. For now, the GON intends to concentrate on elections, including the possibility of holding staggered local elections next spring, followed by national elections, conducted in phases, beginning in November 2004.
AMBASSADOR RELAYS CONCERNS ABOUT ACTIVITIES OF INDIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENTS
S E C R E T KATHMANDU 002366
STATE FOR SA/INS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2013
TAGS: PREL PTER NP IN
SUBJECT: NEPAL: AMBASSADOR RELAYS CONCERNS ABOUT
ACTIVITIES OF INDIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENTS
REF: A. REF: KATHMANDU 2282
¶B. KATHMANDU 2298
Classified By: AMB. MICHAEL E. MALINOWSKI. REASON: 1.5 (B,D).
¶1. (S/NF) On December 3 the Ambassador raised with Indian Ambassador Shyam Saran reports that intelligence agents assigned to the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu have been characterizing USG policy and motives in Nepal as malevolently aimed at undermining Nepal’s sovereignty. The Ambassador told Saran that the reports had been passed to us by several Nepali political sources, who claimed to have had such conversations in the recent past with Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agents based at the Indian Embassy. He also briefed Saran about unsubstantiated reports suggesting that some Nepali Maoist women may have received training at a security facility in Dehra Dun in northern India (Ref A). Noting that Nepalis, both within the government and in the opposition, sometimes attempt to play off Indian and American interests, he stressed that the information passed on by these sources had not been verified. He noted that the reports predated the meeting between Nepali Maoists and Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist General Secretary Madhav Nepal in Lucknow (Ref B)–an event that has SIPDIS set Nepali nationalists teeth on edge against India. The Ambassador emphasized that he was communicating these concerns to Saran as a friend and ally.
¶2. (S/NF) Ambassador Saran thanked him and expressed concern, describing the reports as “”unfortunate”” and not an accurate reflection of official GOI policy–a point confirmed in his recent policy discussions in New Delhi (see para 3). The GOI is committed to ensuring Nepal’s stability, he said, adding that he has obtained unprecedented levels of development and security assistance for the kingdom. Nonetheless, sometimes people in different branches of the GOI “”go off on their own,”” he acknowledged, and promised to look into the reports.
¶3. (S/NF) In a separate meeting on November 30, Saran briefed the Ambassador on the just-concluded policy deliberations in New Delhi. He stressed that his interlocutors had expressed concern about possible spill-over of the insurgency onto Indian territory. According to Saran, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes told him that “”the fight against the Maoists is also India’s fight.”” Saran noted, however, that certain quarters within the GOI had argued that India should maintain contact with the Maoists in order to influence them and to keep open communication channels in the event of a worst-case scenario in which the Maoists ultimately gain power.
¶4. (S/NF) We cannot discount the possibility that our Nepali sources, many of whom resent India’s influence in their country, may have their own motives in conveying to us reports of Indian double-dealing. We have always found Saran professional, collegial, and cooperative, and believe that he does not sanction–and may probably not be aware of–all of RAW’s activities in Nepal. His acknowledgement that some in the GOI “”go off on their own”” and that some advocate maintaining contact and influence with the Maoists is his first admission to us that some elements within his Embassy may be working at cross-purposes to official GOI policy.
CRUNCH TIME IN NEPAL ?
S E C R E T KATHMANDU 002587
DEPT FOR S, P, AND SCA FROM THE AMBASSADOR
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/22/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER IN NP
SUBJECT: CRUNCH TIME IN NEPAL?
Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty, reasons 1.4 (b/d).
¶1. (S/NF) It looks like we’re getting to crunch time here in Nepal. The Maoists are still stringing along talks with the GON, hoping that the GON will follow up on its past four months of unilateral concessions by caving in and allowing an armed Maoist movement into an interim government. The Prime Minister assures me that he has no intention of doing that. If he does not, then the Maoists appear intent on organizing during the month of October massive public demonstrations designed to pressure the GON into putting the Maoists on the path to power. If the government still refuses to cave, the Maoists, according to a number of pretty good sources, seem ready to move in November to a campaign of urban violence, using the demonstrations as cover. Again, the goal of the violence would be to intimidate the government into handing over the keys to power.
A Tremendous Bluff?
¶2. (C) The good news is that the Maoists are doing much of this through bluff. They have relatively little popular support, and they have nowhere near the military capability to take on the government’s security services in an open fight. The bad news is that the bluff may work. The Prime Minister is desperate to avoid being blamed for being the one who derailed the peace process. Just as important, the Home Minister, who also happens to be the government’s chief negotiator with the Maoists, fears that enforcement of the law against them could lead to the insurgents walking away from the negotiating table. Thus, the police are standing aside while the Maoists engage in extortion, intimidation, kidnapping, and the occasional murder — as well as preparing for their October push against the government. The government inaction is leading many Nepalis, particularly in Kathmandu, to think that a Maoist victory is inevitable.
What We Need to Do
¶3. (C) Brow-beating: Ultimately, decisions made by Nepalis will determine whether this country goes down the path toward becoming a People’s Republic over the next couple of months. That said, we need to increase the possibility that the leaders here will make the right decisions. I’ve been meeting regularly with the Prime Minister, urging him (so far unsuccessfully) to use the police to enforce law and order and bucking him up to stick to his bottom line of not letting gun-toting Maoists into the government (with greater success so far). We’ve also been pushing the other major parties of the Seven Party alliance to support the Prime Minister on arms management and to push him to use the police against Maoist excesses. I’ve also created a firestorm of controversy by visiting a couple of military bases (as well as a lot of civilians) out West and publicly condemning Maoist violence. Leftist MP’s have called for my expulsion, but at least some of the people here are beginning to debate Maoist intentions.
¶4. (S/NF) Preparing for the worst: We need to be prepared for the possibility of a Maoist return to violence in November. The key will be to condemn as quickly as possible Maoist violence, while shipping as quickly as possible some 4,500 more weapons that we have in storage for the Nepali Army. Those weapons would have an immediate tactical impact but more importantly would shore up a government that will be under tremendous pressure to capitulate.
¶5. (S/NF) The Diplomatic game: The diplomacy here is getting complicated. The Europeans are all over the map with respect to recent developments. The Danes and Norwegians (who have some clout here because of their aid programs) are convinced that lasting peace is just about ready to break out and push the GON to be as accommodating as possible. The Brits, in contrast, seem convinced that the Maoists will soon be coming into power and are trying to convince themselves that that might not be so bad. The Chinese seem primarily interested in pushing Tibet issues with the weak, frequently ineffectual GON. The local World Bank rep is so fed up with the corruption in the system that he has become a frequent lunch pal of the Maoist supremo. I’m trying to push back here on some of this, but it would help if the Department could have a serious, high-level discussion with the Brits on Nepal. We might also want to look at a demarche to the Europeans and others (reminding them that the Maoists are not just agrarian reformers and seem to want power rather than peace). And finally…
Working with India
¶6. (S/NF) From my perspective, we need to do more to keep the Indians in lock-step with us. I coordinate closely with my Indian counterpart here and in private he pushes the exact same message I do: that the police need to enforce law and order and that the GON should not let armed Maoists into an interim government. I was more than a little annoyed to find out, however, that the Indian Embassy had complained to the PM’s office about our training activities with the Nepal Army. (The Indian Ambassador assured me that the message had been that those exchanges should occur more quietly and had been delivered without instructions from New Delhi.) The incident underscored the fact that, while worried about current trends, New Delhi seems oblivious to how close the Maoists are getting to victory here. That makes sense: New Delhi godfathered the working relationship between the Maoists and the Parties and doesn’t want to acknowledge that it might have created a Frankenstein’s monster. Moreover, India’s Marxist party (a key supporter of the governing coalition) has proclaimed that everything here is going just fine. In that context, I hope that a discussion on Nepal will feature prominently in future conversations with senior Indian leaders.
¶7. (C) The next few months will go a long way to determining whether the Maoists have any intention of coming in out of the cold, or whether there only goal is absolute power. Up until now, all signs point to the latter. I continue to fear that a Maoist assumption of power through force would lead to a humanitarian disaster in Nepal. Just as important, a Maoist victory would energize leftist insurgencies and threaten stability in the region. It thus behooves us to continue to do everything possible to block such an outcome.
INDIAN OFFICIALS TAKE TOUGHER STAND ON MAOISTS
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 KATHMANDU 001197
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KDEM MARR IN NP
SUBJECT: NEPAL: INDIAN OFFICIALS TAKE TOUGHER STAND ON
REF: KATHMANDU 1112
Classified By: Ambassador James F. Moriarty. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).
¶1. (C) On June 15, Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee confirmed to the Ambassador that the Government of India had taken a tougher line on Maoist abuses. Mukherjee’s recent visit to New Delhi had coincided with the visit of Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal. According to Mukherjee, who sat in on a June 6 meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and MK Nepal, the Foreign Minister had expressed concern that the law and order situation in Nepal continued to deteriorate and Maoist abuses had gone unpunished. Moreover, Foreign Minister Mukherjee had been categorical in his discussion with MK Nepal that the Maoists should not be integrated into the Nepal Army. Ambassador Mukherjee asserted that the GOI would not tolerate continued attempts by the Maoist splinter Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (“”People’s Terai Liberation Front””) (JTMM) to derail the Constituent Assembly election. He agreed that the Maoists had not showed a true commitment to joining the political mainstream.
Indian Foreign Minister Concerned About Maoist Intentions
¶2. (C) Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee told the Ambassador on June 15 that senior Indian officials had voiced concern about ongoing Maoist abuses during Mukherjee’s recent consultations in New Delhi. Similarly, in a meeting between Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Kumar Mukherjee and Communist Party of Nepal – United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) General Secretary Madav Kumar Nepal on June 6, the Foreign Minister
SIPDIS had confirmed that the leadership of the Government of India (GOI) was increasingly concerned with the deteriorating security situation in Nepal. Maoist abuses needed to be punished. Foreign Minister Mukherjee had told MK Nepal that the seven parties in the governing coalition needed to stay united and take clear steps to prepare for free and fair elections in November. This was the only way, FM Mukherjee had opined, to keep the Maoists in the political process. The Foreign Minister had also made it clear to MK Nepal that the GON should not – under any circumstances – integrate Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army.
Home Minister Will Stay On
¶3. (C) Foreign Minister Mukherjee had hinted to MK Nepal during their meeting, according to Ambassador Mukherjee, that Home Minister Sitaula needed to do more to address the country’s security situation. The Indian Ambassador speculated that Sitaula had dodged a bullet because the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) had retracted its demand for his resignation. Mukherjee acknowledged to the Ambassador that Sitaula was a big part of the problem; unfortunately, he noted, Sitaula would probably stay on as Home Minister.
JTMM Activity Won’t Be Tolerated
¶4. (C) Mukherjee agreed with the Ambassador that the Government of Nepal had to take concrete steps to include marginalized groups in the political process. He also noted that the Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (“”People’s Terai Liberation Front””) (JTMM) should be brought into discussions and convinced to declare a “”revolutionary cease-fire”” to save face. Mukherjee told the Ambassador that the GOI would do “”everything in its power”” to address the situation if the JTMM tried to derail the Constituent Assembly election. Mukherjee felt that Maoist acts of violence would be the single most destabilizing factor leading up to the election. He asserted that the U.S. should stand firm in its decision
KATHMANDU 00001197 002 OF 002
not to communicate with the Maoists, as doing so would only reward bad behavior.
Maoists Not Invited to New Delhi
¶5. (S/NF) When asked by the Ambassador whether the Maoists had been invited back to New Delhi for consultations, Ambassador Mukherjee said that officials in New Delhi had refused the informal requests for a visit they had received from Maoist chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal (aka Prachanda). According to Mukherjee, Dahal’s go-betweens were told by the Indian Embassy that it was not the time for a visit to New Delhi because the Maoists had continued to break their commitments to the peace process. The Maoists had reportedly lamented the fact that they had “”lost their former channels”” of communication to New Delhi. In response, GOI officials had made it clear that, since the Maoists had entered into the Interim Government, the intelligence community was no longer their conduit. “”We are the conduit now,”” Ambassador Mukherjee noted, referring to his embassy.
¶6. (C) The Indian Ambassador continues privately to express much more pessimism about Maoist actions and intentions than in the past (reftel). Mukherjee shared our analysis that the Maoists continue to seek total state power — even if he is not prepared to say so publicly. Foreign Minister Mukherjee’s recent push for CPN-UML leader MK Nepal to maintain seven-party unity and enforce law and order was useful and timely. According to the Indian political counselor, Prime Minister Monmohan Singh was even blunter with MK Nepal, warning him to be wary of the Maoists and urging him to work with Prime Minister Koirala. We hope that a two-pronged message from India and the U.S. could help push the GON to address the current security situation and move quickly toward a November Constituent Assembly election while maintaining guard against Maoist machinations.