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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05NEWDELHI8746 2005-11-17 12:36:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy New Delhi
Cable title:  

FOREIGN SECRETARY SARAN URGES USG TO CORRECT

Tags:   PREL KDEM PHUM IN UNSC GOI 
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1. (C) Summary: In his November 15 meeting with Senior
Advisor on UN Reform Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Foreign
Secretary Shyam Saran expressed general GOI support for most

SIPDIS
of the USG's UN reform agenda, with some minor disagreement
on the oversight mechanisms. He reinforced the GOI's
determination to win a permanent seat on the UNSC and
affirmed that many in India are now convinced that the US is
opposed to New Delhi's campaign. He urged the USG to make a
public effort to correct this misperception. Saran also
confirmed that the GOI is prepared to accept an end to the
G-4, but will not walk out. The Left parties and the
opposition are gaining political traction with their claims
that the USG wants Indian support for UN reform without
backing India's UNSC candidacy. This is limiting the GOI's
options, as it does not want to make public moves that would
provide more fodder for the critics. The GOI is looking for
some public show of support from the USG to demonstrate that
it benefits from its support for UN reform. Tahir-Kheli
affirmed that while India can make a strong case for its
candidacy, the divisiveness of the UNSC expansion issue at
present necessitates earlier movement on other priority
issues such as management and human rights reform. End
Summary.

UN Reform is a Top US Priority


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2. (C) In her November 15 meeting with Foreign Secretary
Shyam Saran, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State on UN
Reform Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli affirmed that the UN
reform agenda has "moved and not moved" in the past year, and
Secretary Rice remains very engaged. Tahir-Kheli emphasized

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that the USG wants to make its case to important countries
like India to make it clear that we share a common agenda and
that UN reform is not just an American issue. We now have a
chance to use all our equities to rebuild the UN from the
ground up, as the Secretary pointed out in her address to the
General Assembly in September.



3. (C) Tahir-Kheli pointed out that Secretary Rice has
stated that UN reform implementation is urgently needed. In
her call for a permanent revolution of reform at the UN, she
has identified management (encompassing ethics, oversight,
mandates and personnel), the creation of a robust Human
Rights Council, the Convention Against Terrorism, and the
Peace Building Commission. The US supports a Human Rights
Council with a higher threshold for membership which would
exclude human right violators. Tahir-Kheli said that if
countries such as India would speak out in favor of a strong
Human Rights Commission, we could make progress on this issue
by the end of the year.

The GOI is Supportive - with Caveats


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4. (C) Secretary Saran replied that there is no real
difference between the US and India on human rights and UN
reform issues, adding that the GOI agrees with the USG that a
two thirds vote in the Human Rights Commission should be
sufficient to prevent the membership of offending states. He
pointed out that the GOI wants new entrants into the UNSC to
have greater weight than some of the candidates mentioned to
date and wondered if the US and India can't look into a
"higher bar" for consideration. Saran affirmed that India
has supported UN reform for some time, especially when it
comes to accountability and transparency in regard to the
General Assembly.



5. (C) Saran stated that the GOI concurs with the USG on the
Peace Building Commission, is in general agreement regarding
the parameters for the Security Council and in full agreement
on terrorism issues, and will work hard on these issues.
However, he pointed out, the GOI has some doubts about the
proposed oversight body, in that accountability should be the
responsibility of the member states, and should not detract
from the General Assembly as the final arbiter. Saran
asserted that there is no need for another layer of
bureaucracy, emphasizing that an independent auditor could
issue a report on irregularities that is issued to the
public. Ambassador Tahir-Kheli replied that the US proposal
is for an oversight body that does not report to the
Secretariat, but is independent and thus credible.

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Tahir-Kheli emphasized that reporting to the GA would
politicize the issue.

And India's UNSC Candidacy Remains a Sticking Point


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6. (C) Saran pointed out that the Indian popular perception
is that UN reform does not mean very much unless it addresses
the UNSC. The question is how to address this issue, as
there is now a deeply-rooted perception in India that the US
is opposed to Indian membership on the UNSC; this means that
the GOI must maintain a balance to defend its stance with the
Indian public. Japan has proposed that there be a new
category of "semi-permanent" UNSC membership, but this is
totally unacceptable to the GOI. India is happy to work with
the US on other issues, where there are no major differences,
but the USG will have to "do some thinking" regarding Indian
candidacy for the UNSC.



7. (C) Saran emphasized that the USG was projecting the
message that it was close to deciding on India's candidacy
for the UNSC and had conceded that India plays an important
international role, which most in India interpreted to mean
that the US was close to supporting the Indian stance. He
pointed out that subsequent US opposition on the G-4 issue
obscured this, leading many in India to state that the GOI
was "led up the garden path" and the US is actually siding
with China to oppose India's UNSC seat. Although Saran
acknowledged that this was "not reality," positive statements
from the Secretary regarding India no longer seem as
credible, with many in India believing that the US is "on the
warpath to keep us out."



8. (C) Tahir-Kheli replied that both the Secretary and U/S
Burns had addressed the growing and important role of India
in UN matters and institutions. Further, the USG respects
the GOI stance and has expressed support for limited UNSC
expansion in order to preserve UNSC effectiveness. The USG
has supported carefully crafted language on criteria. UNSC
expansion is an issue that the President and the Secretary
will decide. The issue of a veto for new UNSC members will
be divisive, especially between the G-4 and the African
Union.

India to Stick with the G-4


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9. Saran noted that while the US claims to hold a different
position from China, the Indian people have come to feel that
both countries have come out against the G-4. Saran conceded
that the G-4 may have run out of steam, but confirmed that
the GOI is still pursuing it. He confirmed that India will
not "walk out" of the G-4, as the process brings the Indian
UNSC candidacy to a higher level, noting that the G-4 has
been successful in mobilizing wide support, although the
Africans have been a problem. If the G-4 disbands, India
will accept it, as the GOI has always been aware that it will
have to "go it alone" and the G-4 just provides a framework
within which to pursue the UNSC candidacy. To put things
back into a positive light, the GOI needs clearer USG
support. Saran noted that the GOI view is that the G-4 is
not the problem, but the internal dynamics of Africa, where
there is a lack of unity and the African states cannot get
together to present a common position. He claimed that the
campaign against the G-4 has been "massive," but has not
really bothered India, as some countries will always oppose
such efforts. Saying that the G-4 may not continue and may
come to an end, Saran confirmed that India will not take the
first step, as it has made too large an investment in the
group and owes something to its G-4 supporters.



10. (C) Tahir-Kheli indicated that the G-4 proposal was
divisive within the UN and cost us the entire month of July,
when nothing productive was accomplished. The problem is
that not every member of the G-4 carries the same weight and
the group has been ineffective. She predicted that if the
G-4 proceeds, it will result in the loss of more valuable
time.

Management Reform Critical


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11. (C) Tahir-Kheli noted that it would be helpful for the
overall UN reform effort if the US could have India's public
support for management reform. She told Saran the US hopes
for progress by December on the Convention on Terrorism, the
Human Rights Commission, and the Peace Building Commission.
She underlined that it would be important for the US to have
this progress in hand by the time US budget discussions begin
in January, as this would discourage attempts to limit the US
assessed contribution. She explained that public support
from influential countries such as India would be
particularly important. Saran took the point and promised to
be in touch with India's Permanent Representative to ask him
to make a supportive statement. Tahir-Kheli said such a move
would be valuable, since India's Permanent Representative has
made some unhelpful statements in the past, suggesting that
the UN is working fine and does not need reform (Tahir-Kheli
did not have USUN cable reporting Ambassador Sen's remarks on
the UNSC at the time of her meeting with the Foreign
Secretary.)

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Comment - Supportive but Adamant on UNSC Membership


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12. (C) Saran, ever the effective diplomat, clearly stated
that while the GOI supports UN reform in principle, and is
willing to say so publicly and it is intent on gaining UNSC
membership and will not relent or be sidetracked. The GOI
wants UN reform, but within its own parameters, meaning that
it cannot offend or distance India from its supporters in
other developing countries, and must not appear to be a
process dominated by US concerns. The GOI, for example, does
not want to appear to be abandoning the G-4 process at USG
behest, even though it is ready to concede that the G-4 may
have already outlived its usefulness. Indian foreign policy
has come to play a dominant role in domestic politics, with
the Left and opposition parties quick to characterize the UPA
government as too compliant to US wishes. The UPA must
therefore step carefully, lest it provide further ammunition
to its opponents.



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