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Cablegate: Sca/Ins Director Bernicat Engages South Indian

VZCZCXRO4114
RR RUEHBI RUEHCI
DE RUEHCG #2308/01 2831147
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101147Z OCT 06
FM AMCONSUL CHENNAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0096
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2013
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 1259
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0528
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1041
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0971
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 0613
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 4871

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CHENNAI 002308

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER IN NP CE
SUBJECT: SCA/INS DIRECTOR BERNICAT ENGAGES SOUTH INDIAN
INTERLOCUTORS ON SRI LANKA/NEPAL CONFLICTS


1. (SBU) Summary: Political analysts Lt. General V.R. Raghavan and
N. Sathiya Moorthy agreed that prospects for the upcoming October 28
talks were somewhat encouraging between the Government of Sri Lanka
(GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during
discussions on October 5 with visiting South and Central Asia Bureau
Office Director for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka Marcia Bernicat.
Both expressed doubt, however, that the Sinhalese majority was ready
to share power with the Tamil and Muslim communities. Both agreed
that domestic politics consigned India to playing a strategic
behind-the-scenes role to avoid a political backlash in the south
and prevent rising resentment in both countries. Raghavan did not
think violent conflict in Nepal is imminent and advised, based on
his peacekeeping experience in Sri Lanka that it is more important
to move quickly to holding well-monitored elections than on focusing
so completely on disarming the Maoists. Both agreed that continued
conflict makes both countries vulnerable to harboring terrorist
activity that could threaten India, and that the U.S. and India
should continue to complement each other's efforts to support the
peace processes. End Summary.

2. (U) During an October 5 visit to Chennai, Marcia Bernicat,
Director for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in the South and Central
Asia Bureau discussed the conflicts in Sri Lanka and Nepal with Lt.
General V.R. Raghavan, President of the Center for Security Analysis
(CSA) and former Director of Military Operations in the Indian Army,
who oversaw the deployment of forces and peacekeeping operations in
the region. Bernicat also met with Mr. N. Sathiya Moorthy, Honorary
Director of the Chennai chapter of the Observer Research Foundation
(ORF,) at which she spoke on U.S. relations with South Asia.

3. (SBU) General Raghavan, who has met Prabakharan, believes
military and international community pressure will force the LTTE
chief back to the negotiating table, but argued the Sri Lankan
government must offer concessions that will enable the LTTE
leadership to sell the peace process to its cadre. Raghavan said he
has advised the Sri Lankans not to press for additional military
gains, fearing that the Army's recent successes have led officials
and their supporters to think a military solution is now possible.
He is concerned the Sinhalese majority remains incapable of sharing
power, but said the proposal contained in the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord
of July 1987 remains a viable starting point for talks. Sathiya
Moorthy of the ORF told Bernicat that getting the two principal
political parties in Sri Lanka to come to a consensus was an
essential condition for talks, but he creatively suggested that the
peace process could be significantly advanced by re-directing the
activities of both antagonists - the LTTE cadre could be absorbed by
forming a Tamil regiment in the Sri Lankan Army, and the government
could contribute to United Nations peace keeping operations.

4. (SBU) Regarding Nepal, General Raghavan argued that Maoist
leader Prachanda wants to move political power out of the hands of
the upper caste elite leaders of the Kathmandu Valley, but not by
mounting a military offensive, especially in the coming weeks. He
would not rule out Indian military intervention, but thought it
highly unlikely. The General noted that it was the Nepalese people,
not the Maoists, who unseated the King and that a power vacuum
remains. Based on his experience with India's peacekeeping
operation in Sri Lanka, Raghavan cautioned that the disarmament
process is more "theatre" than effective and that the international
community should move to well-monitored elections quickly to help
fill the political void in Nepal. In his opinion, talks will need
to address distribution of economic as well as political power
throughout Nepal, in part because Prachanda will need to be assured
his followers will be able to support themselves. Raghavan
suggested the Indian government could address this by funding a
pension plan for the armed Maoist cadres in addition to providing
development assistance for regions outside the Kathmandu valley.

5. (SBU) Both General Raghavan and Sathiya Moorthy are concerned
the conflicts in Nepal and Sri Lanka can be exploited by Pakistan
and extremists to carry out terrorist attacks in India. They
pointed to reports of Kathmandu being a transit point for terrorists
involved in the recent Mumbai blasts. Sathiya Moorthy fears
disaffected Muslim youth in Sri Lanka will become radicalized and
recruited by "jihadist" groups. They argued India and the U.S.
would have to cooperate to ensure these conflict zones do not become
havens for terrorists.

6. (SBU) Comment: Raghavan and Sathiya Moorthy agreed coalition
politics require India to work behind-the-scenes to help resolve the
conflicts in Sri Lanka and Nepal, and that India and the U.S. could
complement each others' efforts in the peace processes. End
Comment.

CHENNAI 00002308 002 OF 002

7. (U) Office Director Bernicat cleared this message.

HOPPER

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