Newspapers stated that the US decision was prompted by Congressional skepticism of the UN system and claimed that ""anti-India"" interests in the US had highlighted India's frequent opposition to US positions in the UN to lobby against support for the G-4.
36569 7/14/2005 13:16 05NEWDELHI5445 Embassy New Delhi CONFIDENTIAL 05NEWDELHI2758|05NEWDELHI5354 "This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available." "C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 NEW DELHI 005445
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/13/2015 TAGS: PREL, IN, CH, UNSC
SUBJECT: GOI WORKING TO MANAGE DISAPPOINTMENT AT US G-4 POSITION AS PM VISIT APPROACHES
REF: A. NEW DELHI 5354 B. NEW DELHI 2758
Classified By: Charge Bob Blake for Reasons 1.4 (B, D)
1. (C) Summary: US opposition to the G-4 UN Security Council expansion proposal was badly received in India, but the GOI is doing damage control to preserve the positive atmospherics of the PM's July 18-20 Washington visit, including working to ensure the resolution will not come up for a vote while the PM is in Washington. End Summary.
Today, We're the Bad Guys
2. (U) Neglecting all other comments made during the course of the General Assembly debate, Indian media reported only the US statement on the G-4 framework resolution, emphasizing that the US ""strongly opposes,"" ""rejects,"" or ""blocks"" the proposed expansion. Newspapers stated that the US decision was prompted by Congressional skepticism of the UN system and claimed that ""anti-India"" interests in the US had highlighted India's frequent opposition to US positions in the UN to lobby against support for the G-4. The ""Times of India"" suggested that Washington's opposition would take UNSC expansion off the agenda for the PM's visit.
3. (SBU) Foreign Secretary Saran used a July 13 press conference to deny GOI discouragement over US opposition to the G-4 UNSC resolution, pointing out that India meets U/S Burns's publicly expressed criteria for permanent membership and that Washington's opposition to the G-4 approach had been known for ""quite some time."" Noting that ""there is not much we can do about"" the US decision, he reaffirmed that the G-4 would continue to consult on its plans to move the resolution forward. His positive response contrasted with that of India's UN PermRep Nirupam Sen, who appeared surprised that the US would not merely abstain, and bitterly criticized P-5 exclusivity and the UFC counter-proposal.
Trying to Insulate the PM's Washington Visit
4. (C) FM Natwar Singh's Chief of Staff Vikas Swarup told PolCouns on July 14 that one of the GOI's biggest concerns now for the PM's visit is managing how the US position on the G-4 plays out publicly. New Delhi understands the political reasons behind Washington's opposition, and is now working to ensure the resolution does not come to a vote while the PM will be in Washington (the FM goes to London on July 15 and then New York for July 17 G-4 consultations on voting plans).
5. (U) In addition to playing down the impact of US opposition to the G-4 during his press conference, FS Saran gave a positive assessment of US-India relations, praising the US-India defense framework agreement, and leaving open the possibility of Indian participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative. India was hopeful that Washington will lift remaining nuclear-related sanctions, and hoped to increase bilateral high-tech trade, he told reporters.
6. (C) In a parallel effort to lay the groundwork for public acceptance of the outcome of the July 18 visit, the PM met on July 13 with BJP leaders AB Vajpayee, LK Advani and Jaswant Singh to drum up Opposition support for the deepening US-India relationship in the face of dissension from the UPA's Left Front partners, who were especially critical of the defense agreement (Ref A). Notably absent from this meeting with the PM and Natwar Singh were former NSA Brajesh Mishra and former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha, who has found himself on the wrong side of the BJP leadership tussle. BJP Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee member Vijay Vir told us that the BJP leaders broadly welcomed the warming trend in US-India relations, but cautioned the PM that improved ties with the US should not be at the expense of other countries (meaning China). The BJP wondered what concrete results would come out of the visit since the US had opposed the G-4 resolution.
It's a No-Brainer
7. (C) Jyoti Malhotra, diplomatic correspondent for the widely-watched Hindi-language Star TV News, told Poloff on July 13 that the UNSC issue resonates most strongly with the man in the street. While New Delhi's pundits focus on nuclear cooperation, the common man does not know how fuel for the Tarapur nuclear reactor would affect his life, but he does care about the prestige associated with a permanent UNSC seat. Malhotra commented that while US backing would not ensure success for India's UNSC campaign, a gesture of support would win praise across India. Besides, she said, China would never permit India to join the UNSC, so US rhetorical support would cost little but yield rich rewards in India.
Comment: GOI Balancing Public Interest and Expectations
8. (C) The GOI is engaged in a delicate balancing act over how much it can manage down expectations of US support for the UNSC seat during the PM's Washington trip without publicly appearing to betray its long campaign. While pundits have focused on hoped-for nuclear cooperation as the prime issue for the PM's visit, the average Indian appears more aware of, and interested in, the UNSC campaign, and Washington's position on India's candidacy will certainly be attacked in the Parliament monsoon session which begins shortly after Singh returns from the US.
Comment Continued: The US Is Not as Devious as China
9. (C) Political observers from across the spectrum have commented on how astutely the Chinese have managed the gullible Indian public on the UNSC question: despite Beijing's determined but private opposition to the G-4 efforts, the public in India only remembers Wen Jiabao's nod to Indian membership during his April visit, and the Chinese Ambassador's subsequent reaffirmation of Chinese support (Ref B). In contrast, most Indians see the US position as simply opposed to UNSC expansion and, by extension, Indian aspirations. The aftermath of our UN statement could have been a public relations train wreck given its proximity to the PM's departure, but MEA has stepped in to minimize the effect on the overall message from the visit. China's deft (and duplicitous) handling of India's UNSC ambitions, considering China still occupies conquered Indian territory, reflects creative albeit misleading diplomacy by Beijing.