256. Telegram 5095 From the Embassy in Nepal to the Department of State1 2


  • US Position on Khmer and Korean Issues: Impact on Nepal

1. Summary. Nepal’s last minute decision to instruct its UN delegation to abstain across the board on the Korean UN issue and subsequent comments from senior Nepalese officials on the Khmer and Korean questions indicate that Nepalese have absorbed seriousness of these questions in terms of the potential for adverse impact of sharply divergent positions on US-Nepalese relations. Nepalese officials have been pleased at their ability to modify their Korean position in our direction rapidly and with timely impact and have expressed gratification as the voting outcome on Korea in the political committee. Chiran Thapa has expressed the hope that US and GON can review the Cambodia question at a high level during the February coronation. End summary

2. My approach to the Foreign Minister on the Korean question on December 8 (Kathmandu 5027) was designed to convey strongly to him US concern at the prospect of a significant shift of basic policy by the GON, evidenced by their support for Sihanouk in the UN and their intended support for the Algerian resolution on Korea. I told the Foreign Minister that Nepal’s voting on the Korean question would be particularly important in the aftermath of the Nepalese votes on the Khmer issue. I said the fact that Nepal had been solidly against us—on an important question which had been taken up at the highest levels of our governments—had caused extreme disappointment and concern here and in Washington. The full voting tally on Cambodia had accentuated this concern, since India, Bangladesh and Burma had abstained on the substance, whereas Nepal took the pro-Sihanouk position. Positive support for the Khmer government had been given among others by Indoneseia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Iran and, among the industrialized friends of Nepal, by Japan, US, UK and FRG. I told him it was frankly very difficult for us to understand Nepal’s position on the Khmer issue and noted that their position on the Korean question assumed an even greater importance in the light of their votes on Cambodia.

3. I went on to tell the Foreign Minister that until two days previously, we had understood Nepal’s position on Korea to be abstention on all aspects, based on Ambassador Upadhyay’s assurances to Ambassador Bennett on November 21 (USUN 5409). I added that as recently as December 5 both the Japanese and Korean Ambassadors had told me that they understood the Nepalese position to be abstention. I said that it was almost by accident that we learned that this was not the instruction sent to Upadhyay in New York, but that he had been instructed to support-withdrawal of foreign troops in Korea under the UN command”—the essential thrust of the Algerian resolution. I added that it was in my view very fortunate that the changed Nepalese position had surfaced ahead of the vote in New York so that it could be discussed, and the Foreign Minister indicated he agreed with this.

4. Following a detailed discussion of the procedural issues, I passed him texts of both resolutions and focused his attention particularly on the fourth preambular paragraph of the Algerian resolution, clearly directed at the US in totally unacceptable terms. I drew his attention also to the operative paragraph which would eliminate the UNC without providing any alternative arrangements for the UNC’s armistice and security functions. I said that I wondered whether these provisions really represented Nepalese views. My impression is that the Foreign Minister was shocked by the language of the fourth preambular paragraph and that he may not have seen the actual language of the Algerian resolution before.

5. In asking the Foreign Minister to urgently review their proposed position on Korea with a view to abstaining across the board, I noted that our information was that India, Sri Lanka and Bhutan would abstain on all aspects of the Korean question and that this probably would be true also of Pakistan and Bangladesh and that Nepal, unless it changed its position, would be the lone South Asian supporter of the Algerian resolution.

6. It was evident to me that the Foreign Minister accepted the seriousness of this demarche. As reported in earlier cables, he at once confirmed that Nepal would abstain on the friendly resolution and the question of priority and said that he would review promptly the other issues, including Nepal’s position on the hostile resolution. Within two hours we were informed by the MFA that a “high level review” (meaning that the issue would be taken to the King) had been put in train by Karki. The outcome, a Nepalese decision to abstain across the board, was reported in Kathmandu 5039. The sense of urgency the Nepalese attached to modifying their previous instructions is indicated by their unusual request that we utilize our rapid communcations to convey this instruction through USUN to Upadhyay. In the actual voting, as Department is well aware, Nepal did abstain on all votes except one procedural vote. The Nepalese abstention on the Algerian resolution was critical, as it turned out, in the defeat of this resolution by a 48 to 48 tie vote. (Upadhyay’s negative vote on the procedural motion not to vote on the Algerian resolution, reported to us in State 27218, was a clear violation of the letter and spirit of his revised instructions. We are calling this to the attention of the Foreign Ministry.)

7. The day following the Nepalese shift in our direction on Korea, Foreign Minister Karki took me aside at a social event to say that he was very pleased with the change in Nepal’s position, that my demarche to him had been “timely” and “very helpful” in his reopening of the question with the palace. Karki believed Nepal’s action would help make clear that the GON is maintaining its position of real non-alignment.

8. On December 10 Chiran Thapa, the King’s foreign affairs adviser, took me off in a corner at an Australian reception for a discussion of 30 or 40 minutes duration on this same range of issues. He began by saying that he had had “something to do” with Nepal’s last minute change of position on Korea, that he had fully informed the King of my “timely” demarche to the Foreign Minister, and that he hoped the Korean question had worked out well in N.Y. the burden of his discourse was that Nepal was not abandoning its independent voting position. In addition to the shift on Korea, which he said was not so difficult because Nepal had “no interest in Kim Il Sung,” he cited Nepal’s voting in UNESCO on the anti-Israeli resolutions and the Nepalese abstention on the Palestinian rights resolution in the General Assembly. On these issues, Thaps said Nepal was alone or almost alone among South Asian countries. In the UN, he said, Nepal was the best friend of the US among South Asian countries.

9. When I pressed him on their pro-Sihanouk position as being, in my view, out of line with their real interests, he said that there were personal factors in that equation, by which I understood him to mean the King’s feeling of personal commitment to a pro-Sihanouk position as the result of his visit to Peking. Thapa also said that important issues involving sharply divergent views between the US and China are always the hardest for Nepal.

10. When Thapa remarked that high level discussions of issues to which we attached importance were always helpful, I responded that that was precisely why the Secretary of State had sent a communication on Cambodia to His Majesty. Thapa said that the Secretary’s letter had reached the King in Pokhara when the King was unfortunately heavily engaged in local issues and unable to devote any extended time to an examination of the problem. Thapa added that a written reply to the Secretary’s letter had been completed and would be shortly transmitted.

11. Completing his observation on the value of high level discussion, Thapa said he hoped the US delegation to the coronation would be able to discuss the question of Cambodia. He felt this “could be most helpful”. Giving us a slight needle as well as putting in a plug for high level visits by US officials, Thapa said that if the Secretary could have discussed the Khmer issue in Nepal during his visit to South Asia, he thought there would have been no problem. He said the earlier visit of Deputy Secretary Rush and Under Secretary Sisco to Nepal had been very useful.

12. Thapa emphasized repeatedly Nepal’s intention to maintain its independent voting stance and his desire to discuss with us any questions to which we attach particular importance.

13. Comment: I interpret the sequence of events relating to these two important UN issues and the Nepalese comments and reactions summarized above us meaning that the Nepalese wish us to understand that they have registered our concerns, that they do not intend a major policy departure from their generally moderate nonaligned stance, and that they may be ready to look again at their position on the Khmer issue in the UN.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Confidential; Priority; Limdis. It was repeated to USUN. The Department received indications that Nepal would vote for the Algerian-sponsored resolution calling for the disbanding the UN forces along the Korean DMZ. (Telegram 268149 to Katmandu, December 6; ibid.) Ambassador Cargo then met with Foreign Minister Karki on December 8 and convinced him to instruct Nepal’s UN delegate to abstain on the resolutions. (Telegram 5027 from Katmandu, December 6; ibid.)
  2. The Embassy provided the details of its successful mission to persuade Nepal to abstain on the question of Korea at the 29th UN General Assembly.