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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06NEWDELHI8156 2006-12-05 12:54:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy New Delhi
Cable title:  

RUMORS ABOUT BANGLADESH; MEA CONTINUES TO DENY AID

Tags:   PGOV PREL PINR MASS PTER KISL IN BG 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 008156 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR MASS PTER KISL IN BG
SUBJECT: RUMORS ABOUT BANGLADESH; MEA CONTINUES TO DENY AID
TO BURMA

REF: NEW DELHI 8126 NEW DELHI 7870

NEW DELHI 00008156 001.2 OF 002




1. (C) SUMMARY: MEA Joint Secretary (Bangladesh, Burma Sri
Lanka, Maldives) Mohan Kumar informed PolCouns that rumors
are rife in Dhaka that the U.S. wants neither Sheikh Hasina,
leader of the Awami League (AL), nor Khaleda Zia, head of the
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), to win January's
scheduled election and is actively supporting 2006 Nobel
Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. He also mused that the
Bangladeshi elite speculate that the U.S. "fixed" the Nobel
Prize for Yunus. Kumar expressed personal doubt at the
possibility of the Bangladeshi military intervening to end
the impasse between the two grand dames of Bangladeshi
politics, but conceded Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon's
fear that the military may become more involved in
Bangladesh's political situation. Kumar noted that the GOI
and U.S. were basically on the same page regarding the
upcoming Bangladeshi elections, although differences reiained
on specifics regarding Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) involvement in
the political mainstream. Kumar stressed that, "we need to
make the same kind of noise regarding a credible voter list,"
or risk an AL boycott and election delay.



2. (C) Turning to Burma, when pressed by Polcouns, the JS
insisted that he had checked with other branches of the GOI
and remained firm that India is "not supplying lethal defense
supplies" to the Burmese junta. Polcouns declared that Burma
may be addressed by U/S Burns during his upcoming visit and
recommended that the GOI be forthcoming regarding its
relations with Burma in order to set the right precedent of
honest exchange between the U.S. and India.


--------------------------

Bangladesh: rumor trading

--------------------------





3. (C) In a 1 December meeting with Polcouns, the Ministry
of External Affairs' Joint Secretary responsible for
Bangladesh, Burma, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, Mohan Kumar,
claimed that GOI sources continue to report rumint that the
U.S. is positioning 2006 Nobel Peace prize winner Muhammad
Yunus to run in the upcoming Bangladeshi elections slated for
January 21, 2007. According to Kumar, people in Dhaka
speculate that the U.S. arranged for Yunus to win the Nobel
Prize to enhance his political credentials. Although he
professed that he did not subscribe to the allegations, Kumar
stated that he wanted the U.S. to know that the rumors were
rife in Dhaka. Polcouns declared that the GOI and U.S. hoped
for the same in Bangladesh: free and credible elections
without violence.



4. (C) When Polcouns asked Kumar about Delhi cocktail party
chatter on the possibility of the Bangladeshi military
intervening in the political stalemate between Hasina (AL)
and Zia (BNP), Kumar commented that the upper echelons of the
military were hand-picked by Zia, and he believed that they
remain loyal to her. He also observed that the middle-levels
of the military were fairly new and had no political role.
Polcouns noted that Kumar's view was in contrast to Foreign
Secretary Menon's message to DOD Under Secretary Edelman

SIPDIS
through an intermediary after their 18 November meeting that
India "hopes that the USG will exercise some influence over
the Bangladesh Army and urge it to stay out of the electoral
fray." (Ref B) Kumar backtracked, remarking that, "the U.S.
may have more influence on the Bangladeshi military, as it is
a remnant of the Pakistani army."



5. (C) Kumar stated that the U.S. and India have great

NEW DELHI 00008156 002.2 OF 002


convergence on Bangladesh policy, but the GOI was still
concerned about the USG's "lack of conviction" regarding JI's
links to terror. He also asserted that the GOI "does not
understand" the USG view that entry into the political
mainstream will moderate the JI. Further, he insisted that
the U.S. was biased toward the BNP and JI and pointed out
that, "the Bangladeshis are very aware of it." Polcouns
reminded Kumar that A/S Boucher requested on his November
visit that the GOI share intelligence on the JI, as the USG
was "willing to listen." He noted that, to his knowledge, no
information has been provided. He declared that Kumar's
claims of bias were inaccurate.



6. (C) Focusing on the upcoming 2007 Bangladeshi elections,
Kumar emphasized that the U.S. and GOI need to establish
markers for election credibility and offered that the voter
list was the primary problem. He noted that, "we need to
make the same kind of noise on this." He observed that, "the
AL may boycott the election if the issue is not resolved, and
the election may not take place." Polcouns replied that he
would convey the idea to Washington.



--------------------------

Burma: No arms trading

--------------------------





7. (C) Touching on Burma, Polcouns told Kumar that "a number
of credible sources" pointed to past and continuing Indian
military assistance to the Burmese junta. Kumar denied the
reports and insisted that "no lethal defense supplies" were
being sent to Burma. Polcouns reminded Kumar that, "Burma
will not go away," and averred that it behooves the GOI to
discuss its Burma policy openly with U/S Burns and set the
right tone for the burgeoning U.S.-India relationship during
his December 7 and 8 meetings with FS Menon. Kumar said that
he would convey the information through the proper channels
and retorted that the U.S. may be trivializing "threats to
the region" when it groups Burma with rogue governments like
North Korea.



--------------------------

COMMENT: Conflicting Accounts

--------------------------





8. (C) COMMENT: Kumar's confidence that the Bangladesh army
will remain in its barracks during the pre-election period
appears not to be shared by his boss, Foreign Secretary
ShivShankar Menom. We took notice when, during the 21
November Bangladesh Armed Forces Day reception, a Bangladeshi
Brigadier General studiously refrained from commenting on a
Bangladesh High Commission senior staffer's observations to
poloff that he feared that the army would intervene and
impose military rule to stop the "two ladies" from their
constant bickering and restore political stability. As for
Burma, Kumar's denials ring hollow in the face of credible
reports to the contrary. END COMMENT.
MULFORD