ID: 32755    5/17/2005 12:24    05NEWDELHI3717    Embassy New Delhi    CONFIDENTIAL

"This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




Classified By: Charge Robert O. Blake, Jr. for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)

1.  (C) Summary: In a May 17 meeting with the Charge and PolCouns (other topics septel) Indian NSA MK Narayanan offered an upbeat readout on the state of Indo-Pak relations, and implied that the GOI will push for progress at the upcoming Siachen Glacier talks, but cautioned that more concerted GOP action against Lashkar-e-Taiba is important to insulate the peace process from an upsurge in terrorist violence.  On Nepal, Narayanan expressed satisfaction about close US-India cooperation, and welcomed the prospect of an experts exchange to refine our respective understandings of RNA ammunition supplies.  The NSA shared the Indian Army assessment that RNA supplies could last for another few months, but conceded this might not allow the Army to pursue the Maoists actively.  Narayanan indicated that the long-stalled US-India Access and Cross-Servicing Agreement is being readied for Defense Minister Mukherjee's late June visit to Washington. End Summary.

ACSA Moving Ahead -----------------

2. (C) The charge opened discussion by congratulating the NSA on the government's unexpectedly rapid passage of a strong export control bill, and reviewed preparations for the Prime Minister's July visit to Washington (details septel). Narayanan was visibly pleased about passage of the export control bill, and noted that the government had carefully briefed the opposition in advance to ensure smooth progress through Parliament.  He added laughingly that the BJP boycott probably helped to speed passage.  Narayanan was generally upbeat about the state of our bilateral relationship, but complained that the Indian Space agency (ISRO) has an impression that Washington is being unhelpful, pointing for instance to restrictions on a proposed Boeing satellite program.  Reviewing proposals from Secretary Rice's recent visit and the March 25 South Asia initiative, the Charge underlined our commitment to moving forward across the bilateral relationship.  Narayanan (helpfully) indicated that the long-stalled Access and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) is being readied for Defense Minister Mukherjee's late June visit to Washington.

Explaining Nepal Shift ----------------------

3. (C) Turning to Nepal, Narayanan indicated that the GOI decision to proceed with military assistance in the pipeline reflected an intention to “give the King the benefit of the doubt” even though some in the government (especially the Foreign Office) “are not sure where the King stands on democracy.”  Narayanan welcomed the convergence of Indian and US strategies, adding that he had spoken with UK NSA Sheinwald to explain that the Indian announcement was “not so much a change in policy as a concession.”  The Charge flagged our concern about RNA ammunition supplies, noting that we might need consider deliveries soon to maintain the Army's operational readiness.  Narayanan shared the Indian MOD belief that the RNA “can manage for a few months,” while conceding that too tight a supply line would leave the Army unable challenge the Maoists in offensive operations.  He flagged a particular GOI concern that the RNA not use Indian-supplied material against the political parties or civilian demonstrators, and indicated that New Delhi had INSAS ammunition in the pipeline that it would have to decide soon how to handle.  “It's a delicate situation,” the NSA conceded, adding that ultimately the GOI “can't run another country.”

Cautiously Optimistic on Indo-Pak, Concerned about LET --------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (C) Narayanan said New Delhi was concerned about the recent up-tick of terrorist violence in J&K, “but did not see this as a result of a change in the Pakistani approach.” Although the GOI is carefully examining the recent car bombing in Srinagar, he continued, the recent violence appears to be the action of “random groups,” which is “something we have to live with.”  Nonetheless, Narayanan was worried about the continued activities of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET), calling this the “touchstone” of Indo-Pak relations that will determine the sustainability of the Indo-Pak peace process.  Invoking his own career as an intelligence professional, Narayanan noted the GOI views LET as a wholly owned subsidiary of ISI.  Responding to PolCouns' description of recent UN action against LET, the NSA remarked that “I've run operations against foreign governments and I can't accept this talk of rogue elements.”  He recalled that a recent GOI operation rolled up three of four LET cells that planned to target the Indian military academy.  But what happened to the fourth, the NSA asked?  And what about the others we have not identified?  “That's what I'm worried about,”  Narayanan added, warning that counterterrorism is not a predictable science.  As long as GOP support to LET continues (and Naraynan implied that the GOI has seen no change in this regard) the risk remains of a major terrorist attack linked to Lashkar that would torpedo the process of Indo-Pak rapproachment.

5. (C) Narayanan reported that the PM had instructed all his subordinates that “we need to accept Musharraf's bonafides, even on Siachen” (a reference to the upcoming Defense Secretaries talks).  With this guidance in mind, the MOD has


been instructed “to take as flexible a position as possible” for the May 25-26 negotiations.  The NSA seemed oddly removed from the activities of back channel envoy Satish Lambah. Asked about the next round of Lambah talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Narayanan remarked “that's a good question” and indicated that he needed to check up on Lambah's activities (we have heard from the Pakistanis that Lambah and Aziz will meet before the Siachen talks).  Narayanan indicated that he is in contact with Musharraf adviser Tariq Aziz on issues of immediate operational significance (“If Musharraf wants to know something right away, Aziz gives me a call”), but indicated that the long-term Indo-Pak negotiations lie with Lambah. BLAKE