2005-05-27 14:42:00
Embassy New Delhi
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 NEW DELHI 003973 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/26/2015

Classified By: Charge Robert O. Blake, Jr., for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/26/2015

Classified By: Charge Robert O. Blake, Jr., for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)

1. (C) Summary: In meetings with senior MEA officials on May
26, Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, the Secretary's UN Reform
Adviser, heard a strong Indian claim for a permanent UNSC
seat, and identified peacekeeping, management and
accountability reform, counterterrorism, nonproliferation and
democracy promotion as common areas of interest for the US
and India. GOI officials observed that both India and the US
believe that the UN was not as effective as it could be, and
welcomed input on US reform priorities, noting that an Indian
permanent seat on the UNSC was the GOI priority. Foreign
Secretary Shyam Saran emphasized India's extraordinary

investment in its UNSC campaign and the need for the US to
differentiate its position from China which is now viewed as
opposing India's effort. He suggested that the outlines of
UN reform could be finished by September, even if
implementation will take longer. The GOI requested US
support for its UNSC candidacy, arguing that this would be
consistent with USG statements welcoming a larger Indian role
in the world, and bemoaned the apparent Chinese campaign to
obstruct UNSC expansion. End Summary.

UNSC Proposals

2. (C) MEA Additional Secretary (UN and International
Security) Meera Shankar, leading an MEA delegation, told
Ambassador Tahir-Kheli, PolCouns and Poloffs that the
momentum for reform arising from the High-Level Panel (HLP)
report and the UNSYG's report created a "unique opportunity"
to shape a UN that would be "revitalized, more responsive,
and more representative." In a separate conversation, FS
Saran emphasized that India has "invested huge political
capital to get this far" in its campaign for a Security
Council seat, adding that the GOI has to "try to get this
through before anything else" and that "if it doesn't
materialize then all is lost." Summarizing his view of US
policy, Saran suggested the US should recognize that the UNSC
structure does not reflect the current international
situation, and that other countries, like India, need to be

3. (C) The FS suggested that US and Indian reform efforts
converge in two important areas, which should form a basis
for cooperation. First, both countries are looking at UNSC
enlargement in the overall context of UN reform. Secondly,
as part of Security Council reform, the US must also believe
that expansion is necessary, although it is "unclear" how
Washington wants to expand.

4. (C) Shankar stated that the G-4 framework resolution for
UNSC expansion was "sensitive to P-5 concerns," and was still
under review as the G-4 sought to win co-sponsors to its
approach. Although India still prefers a "clean slate" of
identified candidates for permanent seats in the draft
resolution, the Africa's inability to settle on two
candidates required the current approach proposing new seats
for regions, but not countries. She added, however, that
election by secret ballot for UNSC membership would more
transparently endorse the selection of the self-proclaimed
candidates, and meet the "norms of democracy."

5. (C) Decrying what she called a "lack of legitimacy and
ineffectiveness" at the UN, Shankar stated that UNSC
expansion is "intrinsic" to comprehensive UN reform.
Asserting that many member states believe UN reform without
UNSC expansion will not "revive their faith" in the
legitimacy of the UN system, she noted that the proposal to
add both permanent and non-permanent members was one that
would attract a maximum of support in the UNGA. Extension of
veto power to new permanent members is a "principled
position," Shankar said, stressing that India's stance has
been determined at the highest levels of government and
Parliament. However, she noted, the G-4 had toned down its
draft language from "shall" have the veto to "should" as a
concession to P-5 concerns.

Problems from China

6. (C) Saran and Shankar both emphasized that China's
"activism" against any UNSC expansion was a concern to the
G-4. In reaction to the GOI's success in joining the G-4 and
securing UNGA member state assurances of support, China had
"pulled out all the stops" to prevent an Indian seat, Saran
said. He admitted that India had been at the bottom of the
aspirants list until New Delhi joined the G-4, which made it
a credible candidate. The G-4 had raised India's profile in
a way that was not possible alone. Saran noted that as
recently as early May, China never thought India's candidacy
would progress this far, on the grounds that the G4 could not
agree on a Framework Resolution or that India would not
gather enough support.

7. (C) Since these developments, China has "gone all out" on
the offensive against the GOI, even incorrectly suggesting
that their views coincided with the rest of the P5, Saran
observed. Expressing his understanding that the US position
was not in line with the Chinese and not out of line with
India, Saran suggested it would be "worthwhile and helpful
for the US to reiterate these differences." The Foreign
Secretary called the threat of the Coffee Club "incidental

compared to the Chinese."

8. (C) Pointing out that China obtained its UNSC seat under
the 2/3 support requirement, Shankar argued that any new
permanent members should need only an equivalent level of
UNGA support. She argued that the US should support addition
of both permanent and non-permanent seats, and reject the
Chinese proposal that new candidates needed 90% backing in
the UNGA. She added that "it is not becoming to a country
like the US to be seen in the same camp as China" in blocking

9. (C) Ambassador Tahir-Kheli stressed to the Foreign
Secretary that there were many differences between the US and

Chinese views on reform and we should not be lumped together.
Saran acknowledged this and complained that China has been
"playing games" with its support for India. By making reform
conditional on consensus, their earlier statement of support
for India is made hollow. He added that Chinese support for
Plan B (addition of non-permanent seats only) "negates the
idea of greater representation in the Security Council."

10. (C) Saran warned that the US and China might appear to
have similar approaches if the US does not clearly articulate
its distinct position. If the US signals that there might be
difficulties in the Framework Resolution but is proactive
about reform and not opposed to expansion with a two-thirds
majority, this would separate the US from the Chinese. Any
Indian perception that the US and China were working together
would then disappear. In Saran's view, such a statement
would support India's aspirations without compromising the US
position, and it would distinguish the US from those "trying
to wreck the G-4." Although the US may not accept the G4 in
its current form, Saran repeated several times the hope that
the US would publicly support UNSC expansion in principle.

How Far Does Support for Japan Go?

11. (C) Ambassador Tahir-Kheli pointed out to Saran that the
most obvious difference between the Chinese and US positions
is that the US openly supports a Japanese seat, while the
Chinese are using their protest against the Japanese as a
basis for stifling all reform. Saran acknowledged this
difference but wondered how far the US would be willing to go
for Japan. He asked hypothetically whether the US would
"still support Japan or give it up" to prevent unwanted
changes if the US has to make other compromises on UNSC

New Responsibilities

12. (C) According to Shankar, the GOI recognizes that any
new permanent members of the UNSC would need to carry a
larger share of the financial burden, but did not specify
India's view on what level of the UN assessment would be
appropriate. She pointed out that India fulfills some of its
responsibility to play a leading role by contributing large
numbers of troops to UN peacekeeping operations (PKO),and
said India could be an even more substantial contributor to
PKO if it had a seat on the UNSC.

Convergent Interests?

13. (C) Claiming that an Indian permanent seat would not be
contrary to US interests, Shankar listed several areas of
convergence between USG and GOI interests in the UN. These

-- Democracy promotion;

-- Counterterrorism;

-- Nonproliferation of WMD and their means of delivery;

-- Peacekeeping and peace support operations, including
support for a new peacebuilding commission.

14. (C) Responding to USG priorities for UN reform, Shankar
stated that India supports management reform of the UN,
noting that the GOI has also called for increased
accountability, transparency and efficiency in UN operations.
Agreeing with the need for greater flexibility in personnel
and resource management for the Secretariat, she suggested
that member states first ensure increased accountability and
transparency before approving more flexibility. She agreed
on the need to review mandates after five years, observing
that rule 5.6 already requires the SYG to do so, but that it
has not been followed in the past.

15. (C) Supporting the proposed Peacebuilding Commission,
Shankar welcomed continued discussions on its details and
stated that it was important to "get the details right the
first time." She suggested that the commission be located in
ECOSOC, but noted that the GOI was open to alternative
suggestions. Shankar agreed to "look carefully" at US
proposals for reforming the UNCHR but reaffirmed India's
support for human rights and dislike of country-specific
resolutions. The new body must be more focused toward
capacity building in countries with poor human rights
records, not simply highlighting abuses, she said. She also
suggested that a new human rights organization should have a
role in restoring democracy in countries where it has been
overthrown. Linking UNCHR reform to UNSC enlargement, she
argued that in both bodies developing countries see the
developed world "sitting in judgment" on their failings,
instead of assisting them to progress, and said that UNSC
expansion would help orient the overall UN objectives to be
more supportive of developing state needs.

Timeline for Reform

16. (C) The Foreign Secretary explained that two matters
shaped the UNSC reform timeline. First, India needed a
"degree of confidence" that it would receive two-thirds UNGA
support needed for the UNSC seat. Otherwise, the timeline
was "dependent on the P5 position," he said, underlining how
important the US position is for India. Saran explained that
although India had at one time collected 140 votes of support
for its UNSC seat, he believed China in the meantime "scared
other countries into backing out," and now the GOI was in a
"holding operation" to return to this level of support.

17. (C) Saran agreed with Ambassador Tahir-Kheli that much
work needed to be done by September in order to create a
consensus on any reforms and understood that the US was
concerned about the timeline moving too fast. Nevertheless,
he hoped that all nations could capitalize on the momentum
for reform and not defer needed changes. He described
overall confidence in the UN "at an all time low," adding
that if change did not happen now, attitudes towards the UN
would only worsen. While he agreed that the implementation
process would be lengthy, he stated that we "should declare
the landmark decisions" at September's UNGA.

Strategists: The Veto Dilemma

18. (SBU) Reinforcing the challenges facing the GOI, a cross
section of retired Ambassadors and strategic thinkers agreed
over dinner in honor of Ambassador Tahir-Kheli that
pragmatists in the strategic community would consider a
permanent UNSC seat a success even without a veto. However,
they called the disconnect between this quietly-held goal and
public opinion (shared by many in Parliament) that a veto is
the "minimum acceptable offer" a serious dilemma for the
government. They noted that domestic pressure will make it
difficult for the government to compromise. However, the GOI
did not express this view to us in official meetings.


19. (C) The Foreign Secretary's emphasis on the political
capital India has spent to get to this stage in its UNSC
quest indicates that it will be difficult for the GOI to take
"no" as an answer on both a permanent seat and a veto. While
it seems to be going for broke to attain a place at the
international high table, the GOI is nervous about the
implications if it fails and is hesitant to burn bridges with
its traditional NAM partners, which accounts in large measure
for its continuing rhetoric and developing country
solidarity, even while claiming that it has stepped up to a
larger global role.

20. (C) The GOI certainly recognizes that this issue is more
complicated than former NSA Brajesh Mishra recently put it
when he told a journalist that the US could help India most
to become a global power by supporting it for a seat in the
UNSC. However, the FS noted that the Secretary's remarks in
New Delhi that the US recognizes the regionally important
role of India and the need for UN reform have created
expectations of US support for a UNSC permanent seat. Many
decision-makers in India will be bitterly disappointed if
this support does not materialize. End comment.


21. (U) Participants in the MEA meetings were as follows:


Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Advisor to the
Secretary for UN Reform

Charge Robert O. Blake Jr. (Saran only)
Geoff Pyatt, PolCouns
Jai Nair, Poloff
Courtney Kramer, Poloff


Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran
Meera Shankar, Additional Secretary, UN and International
S Jaishankar, Joint Secretary, Americas
Hamid Ali Rao, Joint Secretary, UN Political
Manjeev Puri, Joint Secretary, UN Economic and Social
Pankaj Sharma, Deputy Secretary, UN Political
K Nandini, Under Secretary, UN Political
Siddarth Nath, Attache, UN Political

22. (U) Ambassador Tahir-Kheli has cleared this message.