This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 006149
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2015 TAGS: PREL PTER MASS KDEM MOPS IN NP SUBJECT: MEA GRASPING FOR A PLAN B IN NEPAL
REF: KATHMANDU 1603 NOTAL
Classified By: PolCouns Geoff Pyatt for reasons 1.4 (B, D)
1. (C) Summary: MEA Joint Secretary (North) Ranjit Rae told PolCouns and Poloff on August 8 that the "window of opportunity" for reconciliation between the Palace and the political parties in Nepal is closing, and MEA is looking for new ways to increase pressure on the King. India was annoyed by the July visit to Nepal of UN envoy Brahimi, and remains concerned by reports that China and Pakistan may seek to fill the arms supply gap to the RNA. The Indians argue that only restoration of democracy can bring lasting stability to Nepal. Post recommends we discuss coordinating with the GOI our next measures to pressure the Palace to compromise with the political parties. End Summary.
Window of Opportunity is Closing
2. (C) Rae lamented that the "window of opportunity is gradually closing" in which the international community could expect to turn King Gyanendra in a productive direction. While India earlier thought the King could be persuaded to retrace his steps to February 1, the latest developments in Nepal indicate time is growing short. These indicators included the appointment of scandal-ridden ministers to the Cabinet (including one murderer), alterations to the Civil Service, and the "Citizens for Democracy" protests on August 5, which drew "all of the intelligentsia of Nepal." If agitation picks up in Nepal after the monsoons end in September, as New Delhi expects, the Palace will turn even more repressive, Rae predicted.
GOI Looking for New Ideas
3. (C) The GOI is looking "all the time" for new ways to encourage the King to compromise with the parties, Rae stated. However, there are many different views and constituencies within the government, he said, so it would be premature to discuss those ideas now. Other than a course correction by the King, "I don't see how we can get out of this mess," he complained.
India Irked by Brahimi Visit
4. (C) While admitting that the UN's involvement in Nepal through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was helpful, Rae said the GOI was not enthused by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's recent visit to Kathmandu. He attributed the visit to the Secretary General's motivation to show that the UN was engaged in Nepal, and shrugged off a UN role in resolving the impasse between the Palace, the parties and the Maoists. He argued that Nepal was "not yet" on par with the other international crises in which Brahimi had been involved.
King Seeks High-level Meetings to Confer Legitimacy
5. (C) Rae mentioned that Minister of State Rao Inderjit Singh had repeatedly emphasized the GOI's desire to see a return to democracy during his July Kathmandu visit, but the Palace had pushed back, arguing that the imperative of fighting terrorism necessitated the King's February 1 takeover. The Palace sees high-level meetings as a way of cementing its legitimacy, and has already requested meetings with the Indian delegation at the foreign minister level at the UNGA and SAARC summits to be held in September and November, respectively. However, Rae said, the GOI has not yet decided how to respond, as the King used an April meeting with PM Manmohan Singh in Jakarta to attempt to justify his February actions. He added that India's special relationship with Nepal makes outright rejection of these requests difficult.
China, Pakistan, and Weapons: NIMBY
6. (C) India continues to receive alarming reports of Pakistani and Chinese offers to supply weapons to Nepal, Rae stated, specifying that the GOI has heard that several Chinese companies including Norinco have offered letters of credit for arms and ammunition purchases. MEA Joint Secretary (East) Ashok Kantha called in the Chinese Embassy
SIPDIS in July to request that China not permit arms sales, Rae reported. However, the geopolitics in the region have changed, he observed, and China is not as eager as it once was to meddle in Nepal whenever previous kings "played the China card." In the meantime, India's supply of non-lethal aid valued at 150,000,000 Rupees (approximately USD 3.5 million) released in early July was almost completed, he added, barring a few items held up at the border awaiting excise duty exemption.
Comment: We Also Need a Plan B
7. (C) Our British and Indian interlocutors in New Delhi have discussed the need to formulate a new approach to convince the King that he must reach out to the political parties before it is too late. The GOI clearly recognizes it must do more, although what, precisely, remains for now unclear to them. Rae noted that some in New Delhi are pressing the GOI to "get real" and work with the King against the Maoist threat, but added his view that such an approach could not bring lasting stability. We believe the time is ripe to discuss a coordinated approach with the GOI, perhaps drawing on some of Embassy Kathmandu's suggestions (Reftel). The recent US-India Democracy Initiative and the PM's September visit to the UNGA might provide a useful platform for us to reinforce our commitment to the restoration of democracy in Nepal. BLAKE