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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05NEWDELHI9771
2005-12-28 12:39:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy New Delhi
Cable title:  

MEA LOOKS AHEAD TO PAKISTAN TALKS, SEEKS

Tags:   PTER  PREL  EAID  EPET  ELTN  MOPS  KDEM  KNNP  IN  PK  AF  IR  INDO  PAK 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 NEW DELHI 009771 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2015
TAGS: PTER PREL EAID EPET ELTN MOPS KDEM KNNP IN PK AF IR INDO PAK
SUBJECT: MEA LOOKS AHEAD TO PAKISTAN TALKS, SEEKS
REASSURANCE ON US PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN

REF: A. NEW DELHI DECEMBER 21 O/I

B. STATE 226670

Classified By: Acting DCM Geoff Pyatt for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 NEW DELHI 009771

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2015
TAGS: PTER PREL EAID EPET ELTN MOPS KDEM KNNP IN PK AF IR INDO PAK
SUBJECT: MEA LOOKS AHEAD TO PAKISTAN TALKS, SEEKS
REASSURANCE ON US PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN

REF: A. NEW DELHI DECEMBER 21 O/I

B. STATE 226670

Classified By: Acting DCM Geoff Pyatt for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)


1. (C) Summary: Speaking on December 27, MEA Joint Secretary
(Pakistan/Afghanistan/Iran) Dilip Sinha judged that the GOP
is dragging its feet in implementing agreed-upon
confidence-building measures and presenting its own ideas in
a "half-baked" manner, but was confident that relations would
muddle through incrementally. Sinha's thoughts on
Afghanistan were centered on protecting Indian nationals from
terrorism and confirming that the USG (and the US military)
would remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future; he
also provided an update on Indian assistance to Afghanistan
in the field of democracy-building. On Iran, he reiterated
the Indian formula that energy, regional stability (including
keeping Iran as a non-nuclear weapons state), and land access
to Afghanistan and Central Asia continue to govern
Delhi-Tehran relations. Despite ongoing GOI meetings with
Iran pipeline negotiators, Sinha suggested that progress
would be slow noting Pakistan's failure to appoint a project
consultant. End Summary.

Muddling Through with GOP on CBMs and "Half-Baked Ideas"
-------------- --------------


2. (C) Sinha gave an evenhanded assessment of GOI-GOP
relations going into the New Year. He was upbeat on
operationalizing the Amritsar-Lahore and Amritsar-Nankana
Sahib buses to link Indian and Pakistani Punjab (Ref A), and
especially Sikh holy places, in January. His attitude was
tempered by Indian press reports -- which Sinha corroborated
-- that the Pakistani negotiators for the Munnabao-Khokhrapar

rail link to connect Sindh and Rajasthan were demanding the
service run the same way the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus does
-- that is, each train would stop at the border, passengers
would cross on foot and board the opposite train to reach
their final destination. Sinha reported that this was the
first time he knew of a Pakistani team objecting to a vehicle
crossing the border from India, as usually the Indian team
objected to the prospect of Pakistani vehicles crossing as a
potential ingress for terrorists. He also pointed out that
whereas there is a Pakistani train platform approximately 100
feet from the border, the closest Indian platform was two
kilometers away, which would greatly complicate
embarkation/disembarkation. The GOI assumed that the
Rajasthan train -- like the Delhi-Lahore bus -- would
physically cross the border. Neither the GOI nor the
Rajasthani government foresees building a new platform in the
Rajasthan wilderness -- the closest city, Barmer, is 100 km
away -- and Sinha was concerned that lining up temporary
staffing for customs and immigration even at the existing
platform may be problematic. He concluded that this may not
be insurmountable, and may be resolved during the next round
of Munnabao-Khokhrapar talks on January 4-7 in India.


3. (C) Sinha also flagged the January 17-18 Foreign
Secretaries' talks in New Delhi to inaugurate the Third Round

SIPDIS
of the Composite Dialogue (NOTE: The Foreign Secretaries will
address the Composite Dialogue topics of Peace and Security
including Confidence-Building Measures, and Kashmir. End
Note.) He added that in March cross-LoC truck (i.e. trade)
service should begin in Kashmir. To a question on Siachen
glacier, Sinha held to the GOI requirement for the
demarcation of the Actual Ground Position Line of the troops
on both sides before any troop withdrawal goes forward.
Noting the current lack of an Indian Foreign Minister, he
confirmed that the Composite Dialogue can just as easily
proceed under the PM's foreign policy stewardship.


4. (C) On back-channel negotiations, Sinha reported that the
talks between NSA Narayanan and Pakistani NSA Tariq Aziz
remain outside the Foreign Ministry's orbit. More broadly,
he characterized the ideas flowing from Islamabad as
frequently "half-baked": "they are not concrete, no
specifics, no contours ... what exactly do they mean when
they use words like 'autonomous,' 'self-governance,'
'demilitarize' ... we are not sure what we are supposed to
respond to." He refused to be drawn out on NSA Narayanan's
comments in a December 24 TV interview that the Indo-Pak
back-channel was discussing Pakistan President Musharraf's
proposal for "self-governance in divided Kashmir."

Terror Concern Amid Afghan Assistance, Democracy Building
-------------- --------------


5. (C) Turning to Afghanistan, A/DCM passed Ref B demarche
and asked that the GOI continue its robust involvement in
Afghan reconstruction. Sinha responded that he expected to
attend the conference himself, along with a Minister of State
to provide political representation.


6. (C) On terrorism within Afghanistan, Sinha stated that
"Pakistan-based sources" reported direct Pakistani
involvement, "especially in Peshawar," in planning attacks on
Indians working in Afghanistan. (NOTE: Sinha did not specify
GOP involvement. End Note.) He said that terrorists were
targeting Indians working on the roads projects in Jalalabad
and Kandahar, prompting the GOI to review security protocols
for both GOI projects and privately contracted roads using
numerous Indian workers. When the transmission towers for
the Kabul-Pul-e-Khumri power lines are erected, Indian
security will ramp up to protect those workers as well.
Sinha underlined that many Indian nationals are working on
non-GOI projects, including for the USG, and their protection
will have to be reevaluated. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police
are currently providing security for GOI projects in
Afghanistan, and project managers are trying to speed up the
completion of their assignments to reduce India's footprint
in Afghanistan.


7. (C) To A/DCM's query on how to expand Indo-US cooperation
on democracy-building in Afghanistan, Sinha reported that the
Indian Parliamentary Secretariat had hosted and trained
members of the Afghan Parliamentary Secretariat in Delhi, and
Indian Parliamentarians hope to conduct a 10-day training
session for their Afghan counterparts in either Delhi or
Kabul. He noted that the Indian Parliament is in recess, an
ideal opportunity for such training. Sinha gave a positive
assessment of the new Afghan Parliament leadership, saying
that the elected officials are proving they are "adaptable,
able to share power, and capable of co-existing."


8. (C) Sinha then asked if the USG withdrawal of 3,000
troops "would be all" or if further withdrawals were planned.
A/DCM reassured Sinha that the USG would "see things
through," adding that it was in everyone's interest to share
the burden among allies beyond the original Coalition
partners. A/DCM also noted that terrorists in Afghanistan
may be tempted to test incoming ISAF troops, and that we must
work together to counter any suggestion that the USG might
"cut and run." Sinha welcomed these assurances, reflecting
Indian support for a sustained US military presence in
Afghanistan.

Trying to Make Sense Out of Ahmadinejad
--------------


9. (C) Sinha told A/DCM that the GOI is still trying to
"make sense out of" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's
actions and statements. He judged Ahmadinejad is playing to
domestic hardliners as he tries to consolidate his own
political power, particularly in supporting his allies for
membership in the Council of Experts who will select the next
Supreme Leader. Sinha was uncertain if Ahmadinejad could
carry the whole country, however.


10. (C) On Indo-Iran, Sinha reiterated that multiple
equities, including transit rights into Afghanistan/Central
Asia and energy (natural gas) require the GOI to pursue an
Iran policy that is "predictable and not confrontational."
He agreed on the importance of preventing Tehran from
crossing the second step on uranium enrichment, on which
A/DCM asked Sinha for Delhi to continue to proactively nudge
Tehran back into productive talks with the EU-3. On energy,
Sinha reported bilateral talks on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas
pipeline between Indian Oil Secretary S.C. Tripathi and
Iran's Deputy Oil Minister Mohammad Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian
would begin December 29, with the Joint (Indo-Iran)
Ministerial Commission meeting in March. The talks are still
exploratory, though -- Sinha noted that Islamabad has not yet
appointed its pipeline consultant, nor has Delhi named its
negotiating team, and only after these people are in place
could the serious negotiations on transit pricing, routes,
security, and technical specifications begin. Likewise,
Delhi and Tehran are not yet discussing gas pricing,
available volumes, or other technical aspects of the
pipeline. (NOTE: Until now, the three countries have been
discussing the project bilaterally with each other. The next
important step is for them to have a tripartite meeting.
Although the three parties have agreed in principle to meet
as a group, no date has yet been set. The parties have
agreed to set a 4-6-month target to reach agreement on these
financial, pricing, legal and technical project specifics in
tripartite meetings. End Note.)

Comment
--------------


11. (C) Aside from updating us on the moving parts of
Delhi's regional relations, nothing in Sinha's remarks
journeyed beyond MEA's standard bottom-line assessments on
India's difficulty in working with Islamabad, its concerns of
working in Afghanistan, and the importance it grants to
working with Tehran. His statements convey his cautious
optimism that on all three fronts, progress will continue at
a two-steps-forward/one-step-back pace. Also telling was his
obvious anxiety about recent press suggestions that planned
US redeployments in Afghanistan are a precursor to a broader
withdrawal of US forces.


12. (U) Visit New Delhi's Classified Website:
(http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/sa/newdelhi/)
BLAKE