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Cablegate: Demarche Request: India's Role in the Community

VZCZCXYZ0014
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #2767 1631350
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 111340Z JUN 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0000
INFO RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE 0000
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0000
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0000
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 0000
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0000

UNCLAS STATE 062767

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PREL PHUM UNGA IN ZI SF PO CA
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE REQUEST: INDIA'S ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY
OF DEMOCRACIES

1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph 3.

SUMMARY
-------

2. (SBU) India has a longstanding position at the UN against
the use of country-specific language in resolutions and it
seems they are extending that position to statements issued
by the Community of Democracies (CD). India has been
particularly unhelpful on efforts to issue a statement on the
situation in Zimbabwe; an appropriate high-level approach may
be helpful in obtaining India's support, which would be very
useful in drawing along a begrudging but compliant South
Africa. To urge further action on Zimbabwe, we have taken
the following actions: the U.S. delegation to the CD has
asked India for an explanation of its position and included
the issue in President Bush's brief for his meeting with PM
Singh on the sidelines of the G-8. Thus far the Indian
delegation maintains its unhelpful stance, objecting to the
statement without explanation. Additionally, India's recent
decision to remove its Foreign Secretary's endorsement for
the CD's Diplomat's Handbook, a successful initiative that
has been in the works for well over one year and has been
widely praised by CD members, calls into question the GOI's
commitment to the efforts and principles of the Community.
After the strong support India had thus far displayed for the
Handbook and the recent reversal, it may be possible that the
Indian delegation in Washington did not adequately report on
the project throughout the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)
in earlier stages. An explanation of India's decision on
Zimbabwe, its recent reversal on the handbook, and its intent
for future cooperation on CD projects would be useful.

OBJECTIVES
----------

3. (U) Post is requested to pursue the following objectives:

-- Ascertain India's reasons for not supporting the statement
on Zimbabwe. Though we understand that India opposes the
statement, we have not heard any particular reasons either
publicly or privately. Other CD members have shared with us
their confusion about India's position on this matter. No
other country has objected in writing as the Portuguese
procedure required: Others like Mongolia, the Czech
Republic, and El Salvador are publicly supportive while South
Korea and Morocco are privately supportive. We would find
India's constructive comments helpful in advancing the
ability of the CD to play an effective role in supporting
democratic elections in Zimbabwe.

-- Urge India's support for a Community of Democracies
Statement on the election crisis in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is
undergoing an urgent crisis over its elections. As
democracies, we ought to urge Zimbabwe to end the violence
and establish a level playing field for the runoff election.
This situation goes to the core of what CD is about -- the
promotion and protection of democratic institutions and
processes. Even South Africa, which did not like the
proposed statement, said it would not block the CG from
issuing it. Zimbabwe's actions June 5, when police forces
detained British and U.S. diplomats at the outskirts of
Harare, and characterized their elections observations in the
north as "criminal," is indicative of the true attitude of
the Mugabe regime toward democracy.

-- Remind India of our shared commitments under the CD to
protect democracies under threat. The CD is a forum distinct
from the UN, and one designed specifically to bring
democracies together to assist one another - and to offer
examples of good governance. Cooperation on CD issues has
been discussed at several Summits with President Bush and PM
Singh and the high level Global Issues Forum. India's
opposition to the CD statement is not in the spirit of our
commitments in Warsaw or our countries' bilateral talks.

-- Query India as to its reasons for the sudden withdrawal of
Foreign Secretary Menon's endorsement for the Diplomat's
Handbook, which it had previously supported during the GOI's
strong leadership of the Working Group for Democratic
Governance and Civil Society in the run up to the Bamako
Ministerial last year.

REPORTING DEADLINE
------------------

4. (U) Embassy is requested to report results of efforts by
cable to DRL/MLGA Laura Jordan, G Joaquin Ferrao, and SCA/INA
Madeeha Ashraf before June 16.

BACKGROUND
----------

5. (SBU) At the May 5 meeting of the Convening Group (CG),
we circulated a draft statement on the situation in Zimbabwe
and urged the CG to issue it on behalf of the Community of
Democracies. The U.S. delegation argued Zimbabwe is
undergoing a clear crisis over its elections, and that free
and fair elections are at the core of what CD is about. The
heart of the CD lies in the Warsaw commitments -- to promote
and defend democracy, especially in situations such as
Zimbabwe. It would be detrimental to its mission if the CD
remained silent. As democracies, the CD member states ought
to urge Zimbabwe to end the violence and establish a level
playing field for the runoff election, particularly by
allowing international monitors. At a special Convening
Group meeting May 23 to further discuss the possible CD
statement on the situation in Zimbabwe, our delegation
offered an updated version for consideration, expressed
openness to changes in the document that could make the
declaration more meaningful and current, and asked that
delegations express their thoughts on the matter quickly to
enable us to identify a way forward.

6. (SBU) India privately reached out to Portugal shortly
after the draft statement was first proposed to ascertain the
level of support for the text; when Portugal noted South
Africa's reservations due to Mbeki's role as the SADC
mediator, India then expressed reservations for unstated
reasons. Since the May 23 meeting, India issued its
opposition to the statement in writing and asked that the
statement not be issued, but did not provide its reasons for
opposing the statement. India has been mostly opposed to
country-specific actions in multilateral fora, preferring
instead thematic approaches to human rights problems. (Note:
India played the key obstructionist role last fall, when the
CD tried - and failed - to issue a statement condemning the
Government of Burma's crackdown on peaceful democracy
activists and Buddhist monks. However in 2003 the CD did
manage to issue a statement on Burma. At the Human Rights
Council's March 2008 Session, India attempted to water down
the resolution on Burma. End Note.)

7. (SBU) South Africa's position is that the current
proposed statement would interfere with the delicate efforts
of President Mbeki to help find a peaceful resolution to the
election crisis. Privately, South Africa says it is
concerned about having tough language in the declaration
because it believes it would undermine its role as a
mediator. We have been publicly supportive of SADC's
mediation role and of South African President Mbeki as the
designated SADC facilitator, but privately we have encouraged
him to take a more active role. Mbeki deserves credit for
helping improve the conduct of the elections, but his efforts
have not prevented post-election manipulation of the results
or the descent into runoff-related violence. Mbeki has been
subjected to harsh domestic criticism on Zimbabwe and the
Zimbabwean opposition has "fired" him as facilitator, which
puts his ability to continue in this role in question. We
think the Convening Group should issue the statement on
Zimbabwe, since for us it is a more neutral way to increase
public pressure on Mbeki and South Africa to take a more
assertive position, and since the statement supports SADC's
leading role in addressing the Zimbabwe crisis.

8. (SBU) Separately, India requested May 29 in a private
meeting with NGO Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD)
the removal of its Foreign Secretary's endorsement in the
frontispiece to the Diplomat's Handbook for Democracy
Development Support. The specific reasons given were three:
One case study was entitled Burma/Myanmar. CCD was told
India no longer recognizes the old name Burma. One case
study was entitled "Belarus: Europe's Last Dictator?"
Apparently, India regards that reference as an insult to the
sovereignty of Belarus. Taiwan was mentioned (CCD said it is
mentioned twice, once in the Resource list under Taiwan
Foundation for Democracy) in the Handbook. India's position
is that there is no such country. CCD notes their
understanding that even if they had made modifications to the
handbook the FS's decision was not reversible. This came as
the Diplomat's Handbook launched May 30 in final form on
www.diplomatshandbook.org and went to print the same day.
India was the chair of the working group out of which the
Diplomat's Handbook emerged in the run-up to the Bamako
Ministerial; Canadian retired diplomat Jeremy Kinsman led the
effort with the help of CCD and Princeton University to
develop, publish and promote the book. FSI recently
announced its intent to purchase 400 copies of the book to
use in training of U.S. diplomats. CCD notified us that they
were able to remove FS Menon's remarks from the book before
it went to print.

POINT OF CONTACT
----------------

9. (U) Please contact DRL/MLGA Laura Jordan at (202)
647-3088 or via e-mail for any necessary further background
information or argumentation to meet our objectives.
RICE

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