224. Telegram From the Embassy in Nepal to the Department of State1

2336. Subject: Meeting with B.P. Koirala.

1. (C–Entire text)

2. Shortly after B.P. Koirala’s return from his last visit to the US, I suggested that we get together. He readily agreed and spent about one and one-half hours with me at the residence last week. This message reports the highlights of discussion with this former Prime Minister and leading political dissident in Nepal. It is covered more fully in memcon being pouched to NEA/INS.2

3. First part of meeting focused on human rights. I explained to B.P. Embassy’s policy on this matter involving mix of public and private diplomacy. B.P. strongly agreed with this approach, saying it would be counter-productive for USG to get in a public debate with GON on [Page 556] human rights. This would not help the cause and would only strengthen hands of hard-liners in the palace. In this connection B.P. mentioned that he was unimpressed with current approach to human rights by Amnesty International which went around “counting people in jails.” He was in greater sympathy with broader-base definition used by US involving personal freedoms, economic rights and political and civil freedoms.

4. B.P. continued to be baffled by recent executions and could offer no satisfactory explanation for their timing or abrupt way in which they had been handled, unless this was a decision taken by hardliners to embarrass the King.3 He shrugged off recent order restricting his movements to Kathmandu Valley as shortsighted and unimportant and further proof that hardliners currently had upper hand.

5. In his last meeting with King before going to US, there were at least two sharp exchanges.4 First came about when B.P. told King that present system of government supporting monarchy was not adequate and monarchy was doomed unless King remembered that the people of Nepal were his ultimate source of power. Second exchange took place when King made point that one of problems of having political parties in Nepal was that they received foreign financing and this threatened security of country. B.P. retorted that there was strength in numbers and political parties were less vulnerable to outside influences than individuals. He added he could name dozens of senior officials in government and in palace who were in the pay of foreign powers. King reddened and changed subject.

6. As for his future plans, B.P. is still waiting to talk to the King and has not given up hope of bringing King around to broadening and liberalizing political base for the country. Meanwhile, he is maintaining a low profile and seems content to wait things out in hopes of hearing from King.

7. In this connection B.P. said that he was opposed to current student agitation which has led to closing of the university.5 He told [Page 557] student leaders not to undertake this agitation but they went ahead anyway. He did not think that confrontation policy of students was helpful in dialogue that was necessary with GON. Comment: Other Nepali Congress leaders have confirmed that they are trying to get student leaders to cool situation but they are having trouble controlling the students.

8. We agreed to meet again in the near future.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790186–0636. Confidential. Sent for information to Colombo, Dacca, Islamabad, and New Delhi.
  2. Not found.
  3. Telegram 1296 from Kathmandu, March 7, reported on the events surrounding the execution of two of Koirala’s supporters: “Even those of our contacts who ordinarily give unquestioning support to the government are unhappy and worried over these events. They regard the timing of the executions as at best a disastrous blunder or misguided attempt to split the Congress Party; at worst, a sinister inside plot to discredit the King.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790104–0858)
  4. See footnote 2, Document 223.
  5. In telegram 2392 from Kathmandu, April 24, the Embassy reported: “The government efforts to quash the student strike by a combination of a cooling-off period, arrests and an offer to discuss at least some issues has failed. Although campuses reopened April 22 most students did not return, and there was a major police-student clash on April 23 which resulted in serious injuries and quite probably several deaths. This in turn led to multiple arrests and the reclosing of the university campuses in the Kathmandu Valley, this time ‛indefinitely.’” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790187–1060)