Triloki Nath Kaul

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A Profile

April 10, 2013

From the archives of The Times of India

When distinguished diplomat T N Kaul was named the new ambassador to the US by PM Indira Gandhi in 1973, then US ambassador to India, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, wrote a stinking assessment of the “sly” nature of Kaul, according to latest US cables available from WikiLeaks. In his cable, sent on March 17, 1973, Moynihan wrote, “Kaul, like Nehru family, is a Kashmiri Brahmin, self-assured to point of arrogance by birth. His career, as ambassador to Moscow and recently as foreign secretary, has been marked by pro- Soviet bias and concomitant anti-American words and deeds.” However, Kaul was also called a sensitive weathervane of Indian foreign policy, enjoying Gandhi’s confidence while foreign secretary. “Thus, he will seek to improve relations with United States, if that is GOI policy, and will criticize our actions, if so instructed,” he said in an otherwise negative assessment of the ambassador, who was to help improve the Indo-US ties that had deteriorated during the 1971 war. “Hopefully, his sense of mission will overcome or mitigate his brahmanical disdain for “materialistic” American and his previous Moscow orientation,” Moynihan said. “I have not yet met him, but all here agree he inclined toward slyness, especially in his dealings with westerners. This latter quality is not only Kashmiri brahaminacal arrogance, it also reflects Kaul’s propensity for misconstruing cleverness for sophistication in diplomatic dealings. As the British say, he is “too clever by half”, a characteristic which many Western chiefs of mission here have found distasteful and trying. The US ambassador said one NATO ambassador “upon hearing of Kaul’s appointment, seized an embassy officer by the lapels and suggested the United States could not possibly extend agreement to Kaul. He alluded to Kaul’s pro-Soviet orientation and his frequent anti-American comments. He quoted former US ambassador to Russia, Foy Kohler, as saying about Kaul: “Not ideologically pro-Soviet as such, but rather a slick ambitious opportunist who, having attained status as a specialist on Communist affairs, has hitched his wagon to the star of improved Indo-Soviet relations.”

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