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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07NEWDELHI1383 2007-03-22 12:14:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy New Delhi
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR TAHIR-KHELI DISCUSSES PAKISTAN, WOMEN'S

Tags:   PREL PGOV KWMN PK IN 
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1. (C) Summary. In separate meetings with Foreign Secretary
Shiv Shankar Menon and Prime Minister Media Advisor Sanjaya
Baru, Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli:

-- discussed Indo-Pakistan relations, agreeing that the
relationship is in relatively good shape at this time;
-- urged her interlocutors to make the issue of women's
empowerment an important part of our foreign policy dialogue
(reported septel); and
-- called for greater cooperation in democracy initiatives,
while lauding India for its proactive role in the UN
Democracy Fund.

Menon:

-- described Indo-Pak relations as having reached a new level
of trust, although some tough decisions remain; and
-- agreed that women's issues should be elevated in our
bilateral and multilateral dialogue;

Baru:

-- expressed optimism regarding the Indo-Pak relationship; and
-- called for American politicians to understand the
complexity of the potential Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline.

End Summary.

Menon and Baru Discuss Indo-Pak


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





2. (C) Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli made separate calls on
Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and Sanjaya Baru, Media
Advisor to the Prime Minister, on March 21, and discussed the
state of Indo-Pak relations and the proposed
Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. (Note: Both meetings,
along with others during her trip to New Delhi, also included
significant discussions on the desire to elevate the issue of
women's empowerment in our bilateral and multilateral
dialogues. Those portions of her meetings
with Menon and Baru are being reported septel. End Note.)



3. (C) Menon told Ambassador Tahir-Kheli that he believed the
government-to-government relationship between India and
Pakistan lagged behind positive public sentiment; however,
recent dialogue between the two governments had achieved a
much higher level of trust. He cited, as an example of the
comfort level that has been reached, the joint press
conference he and Pakistani counterpart Riaz Mohammad Khan
held following the recent Composite Dialogue in Islamabad,
noting that for the first time both sides felt enough trust
to stand together and field unrehearsed questions, as opposed
to past practice of laboring over a joint statement. While
both governments appear poised to make the tough decisions
that could bring about normalized relations, Menon said he
still was not sure what normalization will look like. Menon
cited another example of how times have changed in the
relationship, telling stories he had heard from Indians who
had traveled to Pakistan for a cricket match in February, at
the same time that protests broke out over a cartoon
depicting the prophet Mohammad. Rather than being targeted,
Menon recounted, several Indians, once identified on the

NEW DELHI 00001383 002 OF 002


streets of Lahore that day, were actually helped to safety by
Pakistanis. "Now you see the same thing here (in India),"
Menon said, "Pakistanis on the streets being helped by
Indians." Menon felt people on both sides of the border had
become inoculated to the past over-politicization of the
Indo-Pak relationship, and believes the lack of obsession
over the minutiae of the diplomatic relationship has been a
positive development.



4. (C) Baru, too, expressed optimism regarding the
relationship between India and Pakistan. Both President
Pervez Musharaf and Prime Minister Singh have a clear idea of
how to normalize the bilateral relationship, he contended.
The problem is not in the political leadership of each
country, but rather in some of their respective domestic
constituencies who are not fully on board. Baru, whose
responsibilities include monitoring the Pakistani press, said
he sees a marked difference now in comparison to six months
ago, which he believed reflects a change in thinking at the
grass roots level. He opined that, "if we can get through
the summer without a major terrorist incident," people on
both sides of the Line Of Control will grow increasingly
confident that peace is achievable.

More Collaboration on Democracy: Menon


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





5. (C) Responding to Ambassador Tahir-Kheli's praise for
India's early and proactive involvement in the UN Democracy
Fund, including India's quick response to the U.S. appeal for
an initial contribution to the Fund, Menon agreed that the
U.S. and India could do more together in the region to
promote democracy. India has unique experience as a
democracy which came of age in a developing environment, he
said, and lauded the democratization work the U.S. and India
have collaborated on in Afghanistan. Menon welcomed further
discussion on ways to cooperate on democracy initiatives,
particularly since the women's empowerment strategy involves
a key role for participation and in Central Asia, which he
described as the next logical arena for collaboration.

IPI Pipeline Contingent On Many Relationships: Baru


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





6. (C) On March 20, the Press Trust of India printed a
headline, "Iran pipeline won't affect Indo-US ties: US Energy
Secy." The content of this article came from an interview
with Minister of Petroleum Murli Deora after his meeting with
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman. In response to a direct

SIPDIS
query by PolCouns referring to the comments, Baru reiterated
statements the Prime Minister made to the Washington Post in
July 2005 and has reiterated since, to the effect that "India
needs energy and has to look at all sources. The market will
decide what is feasible, and India cannot foreclose options,
including energy from Iran." Baru then reiterated what he
and the Prime Minister have stated privately: without
international financial support, that will not be forthcoming
given the current security concerns, India will not move
forward on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline project.



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