P 281413Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0892
INFO GULF COOPRATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
AMMBASSY BEIRUT 0625
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 168
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
USMISSION UNVI VIENNA S E C R E T ABU DHABI 000528
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28201
SUBJECT: A/S WELCH WITH UAE FOREIGNMINISTER ABDULLAH
Classified by CDA Martin Quin, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Summary: Ina private lunch conversation on April 20
in Abu Dabi, Assistant Secretary for NEA David Welch covered
a broad range of issues with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah
bin Zayed (AbZ). Notes follow on Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon,
nuclear power, IAEA, Iran, Palestine, Pakistan, Algeria, and
Yemen. End summary.
2. (C) IRAQ: The UAE is willing to send an Ambassador to
Baghdad, but many issues must be worked out to accomplish
this goal. AbZ anticipated authorization the following day
for a survey team to visit potential Embassy sites in the
International Zone. He noted a recent Iraqi Parliament
statement in Irbil as an irritant in the relationship.
(Note: The statement suggested Iraqi support for Iran's
claims to three disputed islands in the Gulf. The UAE often
cites an Arab consensus of 35 years standing supporting the
UAE's claim to the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and
Lesser Tunbs. The statement was perceived as Iraq breaking
ranks with that Arab consensus at a time when deeper Arab
engagement should be the goal. End note.)
3. (S) AFGHANISTAN: Welch commended AbZ for the UAE's troop
deployment in Afghanistan, including combat action more
aggressive than many European states present there. AbZ said
that a new Italian Foreign Minister with defense experience
was a positive sign (and viewed Berlusconi's victory as
4. (C) LEBANON: The UAE planned to join the Lebanon
discussion in Kuwait on April 22. AbZ said Lebanese PM
Siniora was "not too excited" about the meetings and did not
want to seek an invitation if he might be refused. On
another topic, AbZ said Saudi Arabia's commitment of $1
billion in budget support to Lebanon had not yet been
5. (C) NUCLEAR POWER: AbZ said the UAE seeks a 123
agreement with the U.S. quickly. Asked about UAE interest in
a U.S. nuclear reactor, AbZ said he did not think the U.S.
could supply one fast enough to meet the UAE timeline. The
UAE seeks ultra-safe "third generation" technology to meet an
anticipated 40,000 megawatt electricity demand projected for
2020. Time is of the essence. France, said AbZ, feels it
can provide a reactor in eight years; he assumed the U.S.
would take considerably longer.
6. (C) IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS: AbZ said the UAEG was not
inclined to accept the invitation of U.S. Ambassador to the
IAEA Greg Schulte to seek a seat on the IAEA Board of
Governors. Arab support had been promised to Syria for that
seat, he noted.
7. (S) IRAN: Acknowledging U.S. Congressional pressure to
scrutinize and limit Iran-related financing, AbZ said it was
difficult to distinguish between official and private flows
of money from the UAE, which is home to 400,000 Iranians.
The two nations have extensive trade relations. He said it
is also difficult to control Hawalla (informal cash couriers)
and that joint efforts in that arena had not been very
successful. Welch said the UAEG might want to consider a
"bottom up" study of what action it might feasibly take
8. (C) PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY: Regarding support for the
Palestinian Authority, AbZ said the UAE had paid its budget
commitments through March of 2009. Additionally, the UAEG
had offered tens of millions in added funding and extensive
support for development projects. AbZ said Quartet Envoy
Tony Blair had suggested the UAE send a delegation to visit
Jerusalem to explore project opportunities; the UAE had
declined the offer but was willing to study projects
presented to it. One high-cost project for Jordan, near
Aqaba, had been completed in 24 hours, said AbZ, stressing
UAE flexibility and generosity when conditions were right.
9. (S) PAKISTAN: The UAE has no choice but to back
President Musharraf, said AbZ, cognizant that the resident
Pakistani population in the UAE is about the same size as the
UAE citizenry. He said $10 billion had been moved
(presumably by private individuals) from Pakistan to UAE
financial institutions when the political situation in
Islamabad looked shaky.
10. (S) YEMEN: AbZ noted sensitivities about inviting Yemen
to join the GCC, including Yemen's border issues with Saudi
Arabia. He said Kuwait and the UAE were particularly opposed
to Yemen's inclusion, with Kuwait having stated flatly it
would not participate in a GCC which included Yemen. AbZ saw
President Ali Abdullah Saleh as a mercurial figure and
relayed a rumor expressed by former president of South Yemen
Ali Nasser that President Saleh may have had a role in the
Cole bombing. AbZ said the UAE had some difficulty trusting
Yemen on counter-terror issues.
11. (C) ALGERIA: AbZ was also unsure of Algeria's
credibility on the counter-terror front. He lamented that it
had taken the UAE two years to negotiate access to a hunting
reserve which spanned the Algerian-Moroccan border in spite
of good relations with President Bouteflika (who had lived in
the UAE for some time). (Note: Hunting reserves where UAE
royals can test their falcons against the hobara bustard --
whose numbers are augmented through careful breeding programs
-- are a UAEG priority. End note.)
12. (C) LIBYA: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed
(MbZ) had enjoyed a good trip to Libya, said AbZ, and
relations with Libya were warming up. Economic investments
were increasing. The UAE works primarily through Saif
Qaddafi, according to AbZ. AbZ did not see Libya as a
particular security problem.
13. (U) A/S Welch did not have an opportunity to clear this
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