Cablegate: Menon Favors Closer Cooperation Following Mumbai Terror Attacks
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHNE #3023/01 3351434
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 301434Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4442
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUETIAA/NSACSS FT GEORGE G MEADE MD
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1686
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 7227
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 003023
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/29/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER IN KCRM
SUBJECT: MENON FAVORS CLOSER COOPERATION FOLLOWING MUMBAI TERROR ATTACKS
Classified By: Ambassador David Mulford for Reasons 1.4 (B and D)
1. (C) SUMMARY. Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told Ambassador Mulford November 29 the terrorist at4acks in Mumbai were ""on a whole new level"" and that he looked forward to closer cooperation with the U.S. as the ""silver lining"" of the tragedy. Menon confirmed the FBI team had been cleared to participate in the investigations, but they would only have direct access to evidence once the sites were secured. Menon took pains to explain that the Indian Government had not contributed to the prevailing media story that the Pakistan government had reversed itself by not now sending Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director-General Ahmed Pasha to India. Menon was clear that India had no interest in deliberately raising tensions, despite rising public anger with Pakistan, stating that ""no one is mobilizing."" Likewise, Menon said the Indian Government had no knowledge of the origin of the hoax calls placed to the Departnent's Operations Center, and requested that we share any the phone numbers originating from India with the Indian authorities. Menon confirmed his Washington visit December 2, saying he was confident that progress could be made on many issues ""except EUM,"" confiding that he had not made sufficient progress within the Indian Government on End Use Monitoring to meet our concerns. He also hopes to coordinate a list of next steps following the civil nuclear cooperation agreement, including dates.
Condolences and Cooperation Following Terror Attacks
- - -
2. (C) Ambassador Mulford offered condolences and cooperation to Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon November 29 in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks November 26-29. Menon said India has experienced terrorism before, but the attacks in Mumbai were ""on a whole new level."" Menon likewise offered condolences for the American's killed in the attacks and confided, ""My first thought was back to your frequent offers of counter-terrorism assistance, which it is clear we really need."" Menon observed the many editorials suggesting India should learn from the experiences of the U.S. and said this could be the ""silver lining"" of these gruesome events. ""We must make opportunity out of crisis,"" Menon said, adding, ""We look forward to cooperating as closely as we can.""
3. (C) Ambassador Mulford explained that in the event of terrorist attacks involving the death or injury of U.S. citizens, U.S. policy was to insist on enhanced law enforcement cooperation and intelligence liaison. He noted that an eight-member FBI team would arrive in Mumbai on November 30, and asked that the GOI Intelligence Bureau (IB) provide permission for the team to access the sites. Menon confirmed that the Intelligence Bureau had already cleared the FBI team to participate in the investigations, but added that the sites were not yet secure. The team could work ""off site"" until they were secured, at which point they would be granted full access.
4. (SBU) Ambassador Mulford informed Menon that the State Department would be issuing a travel notification, observing the fact that hotels lack sufficient security, but pledging to do so ""as sensitively as possible."" Menon said he understood, especially since U.S. citizens were specifically targeted in the attacks.
Pakistan: ""No One is Mobilizing,"" ""We're Sitting Mum"" - - -
5. (C) Menon took pains to explain that the Indian Government had played no role in the events producing the prevailing media story that the Pakistan government had reversed itself in promising to send Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director-General Lieutenant General Ahmed Pasha to India. Menon insisted that Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi had first suggested to a journalist on background that such a visit could be useful, who reported it as a fact, which then led the Pakistan Army to deny that General Kayani had been consulted, which in turn spawned accusations that the Pakistan Army was not under civilian control. Foreign Minister Qureshi's departure further fueled the controversy. Menon said the Indian Government ""would be happy"" for ISI Director-General Pasha to visit, but that they ""did not NEW DELHI 00003023 002 OF 002 announce it, as has been reported."" Menon shared External Affairs Minister Mukherjee's talking points indicating that President Zardari ""immediately accepted"" Prime Minister Singh's suggestion to send the ISI Director-General ""in due course, when our investigations warrant.""
6. (C) Menon wanted the U.S. to be clear that India was not deliberately raising tensions, stating that ""no one is mobilizing"" and ""we're sitting mum."" Menon lamented that it looked publicly like India ""summoned"" the ISI chief and Pakistan ""recalled"" its foreign minister. Menon suggested that perhaps the Pakistan Government was engaged in ""displacement activity,"" fueling the controversy to shift attention away from reports of ties between the terrorists and Pakistan. ""The last thing we want is to get into a public argument with Pakistan,"" said Menon, adding, ""Public anger is already growing, with people saying that if Pakistan was linked to the attacks we should say so clearly and take action.""
7. (C) Likewise, Menon stated categorically that the Indian Government had no knowledge of the origin of the hoax calls placed to the Department's Operations Center. Menon added, ""The last thing we want is people misleading our Pakistani counterparts and General Kayani regarding India's intentions."" He asked whether we had traced the phone numbers and requested that we share any phone numbers originating from India with the Indian authorities for investigation.
Ready for Washington Meetings, Except EUM
- - -
8. (C) Menon confirmed that he still intended to travel to Washington for meetings December 2 with Under Secretary Burns and Assistant Secretary Boucher. Menon was ""focusing"" his original list of 13 issues to discuss. He was confident that progress could be made on many issues ""except EUM,"" confiding that he had not made sufficient progress within the Indian Government on End Use Monitoring to meet our concerns. When pressed, he said, ""The goal posts have shifted so many times both within our government and with you that people are constantly pulling elements that they prefer from old drafts."" He confided, ""I have always thought ambiguity was better than trying to embroider the agreement with selective specifics; simplicity is best, but not everyone sees it that way, even within my government."" He confirmed that no Ministry of Defense officials planned to accompany him to Washington.
9. (C) While in Washington, Menon added that he would like to coordinate on his list of next steps following the civil nuclear cooperation agreement, including dates. He confirmed that India would initiate the exchange of diplomatic notes with Embassy New Delhi on December 6 to bring the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement into force. (Note: India has yet to sign its IAEA Safeguards Agreement, give a clear timeline for implementing the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC), or designate reactor park sites for U.S. industry -- as they have reportedly done for the Russians and French.)