Roemer with (many) views
As the latest round of WikiLeaks reveals, former US Ambassador to India Timothy Roemer was a prolific writer of diplomatic telegrams, faithfully reporting his meetings, lunches, banquets and chit-chats with even journalists to his bosses in Washington.
He had another trait: giving gratuitous advice to Indian politicians even when it was not sought. When US deputy homeland security secretary Janet Lute met home minister P Chidambaram in Delhi last January, the latter briefed her on Pakistan’s support to terror groups targeting India and the involvement of the ISI in the 26/11 attacks.
Even before Lute could react, Roemer butted in and told Chidambaram that this was the precise reason why Washington wanted India to talk to Pakistan. Without batting an eyelid, Chidambaram asked Lute to ask her boss, homeland secretary Janet Napolitano, to drop by at Islamabad and collect voice samples of the 26/11 accused before she came to India for a dialogue later in May 2011.
This bit, of course, doesn’t turn up in Roemer’s cables.
Viva la WikiLeaks!
Several US cables spoke at length about India’s communists. But a July 28, 2005 cable couldn’t help but mention a sidelight of a meeting with the CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury.
While terming Yechury as articulate, obstructionist and anachronistic, the cables said, “Beyond the Che [Guevara] poster, the map of the USSR, and the cheap gifts from visiting Chinese delegations, the funniest moment was when we arrived. The CPI(M) greeter asked us, “You’re with the Cuban embassy?” Guess they see a lot of them.
In NYC or DC?
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will leave for New York on September 21 to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting.
By the time he reaches New York, United States President Barack Obama would have finished his United Nations address, which is scheduled for the same day, and returned to Washington. The United States and Indian governments are now working on how to organise a meeting between the two.
Will Singh make a trip to Washington or Obama come across to New York again? Watch this airspace.
What's in a NAM?
When foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai took over from Nirupama Rao last month, he came with the reputation of being quiet and docile. But officers at South Block have now realised that Mathai is certainly not docile when it comes to professional matters.
Last month in a meeting to decide the Indian position on Libya, Mathai sternly told a secretary in front of other officers that due diligence had not been done on the Libya paper prepared by his division.
The foreign secretary was hinting that India was still stuck in the old ‘non-aligned’ position of supporting demagogues like Gaddafi while other major powers such as Russia and China had adopted a more pragmatic approach. Some old habits die hard.
Cold warriors still
Talking about old habits, the Soviet Union ceased to exist 20 years ago, but New Delhi still keeps a Cold War mindset warm within the UPA political leadership.
Despite the assertiveness of China in the South China Sea, defence minister AK Antony smells a rat in maritime security cooperation with the United States. He even has issues with trilateral maritime exercises with countries like Japan or Australia.
When Washington proposed that the US defence secretary be part of the bilateral strategic dialogue last April, Antony parked himself in Kerala citing the assembly elections. Perhaps the image of USS Enterprise being sent to the Bay of Bengal in the 1971 war is etched in his memory.
Science and technology minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has never felt so good since he was asked to resign as chief minister over the Adarsh Society scam. Playing a key role in getting Anna Hazare to call off his fast, Deshmukh finds his senior Congress colleagues to have suddenly re-discovered him.
Information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni got Doordarshan News to run a lengthy interview with him. Deshmukh got to have a full say on what he thought about the scam, without any uncomfortable questions too.