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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04KUWAIT4132 2004-12-01 12:56:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kuwait
Cable title:  

TRIPARTITE COMMISSION LAUDS PROGRESS IN ID OF GULF

Tags:   PREL KPOW PHUM AORC KU IZ ICRC 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 004132 

SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR NEA/ARPI, IO/UNP, AND S/WCI
GENEVA FOR STONECIPHER
OSD FOR DPMO CRONAUER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2014
TAGS: PREL KPOW PHUM AORC KU IZ ICRC
SUBJECT: TRIPARTITE COMMISSION LAUDS PROGRESS IN ID OF GULF
WAR MISSING; CONCLUDES HELP SOUGHT BY IRAQ OUTSIDE MANDATE

REF: A. STATE 247213

B. KUWAIT 3371 (NOTAL)

C. 03 KUWAIT 5736

Classified By: Ambassador Richard LeBaron for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (U) Summary and Comment: The 27th meeting of the
Tripartite Commission (TPC) on Gulf War Missing was held
November 24 in Geneva at ICRC headquarters. In stark
contrast to previous sessions (ref C), this meeting was
characterized by strong cooperation among TPC members and the
participation of a sovereign Iraqi government. IIG Human
Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin made an impassioned plea for
international assistance in the enormous task of identifying
mass grave sites, and exhuming and identifying bodies. TPC
members agreed on the need to assist the IIG, both
bilaterally and through international bodies, but maintained
the TPC was not the appropriate vehicle. Kuwait, Saudi
Arabia, and Iraq all closed cases of missing persons and
discussed plans for excavation of newly identified sites.
The U.S. reminded the TPC that the case of U.S. Navy Captain
Michael Scott Speicher remains open. The TPC agreed to
reconvene November 14-15, 2005 in Kuwait and extended the
mandate of the Technical Sub-Committee (TSC), proposing a
January 2005 meeting in Riyadh.



2. (C) TPC members warmly welcomed Amin to the session and,
despite a strong shared belief that the TPC mandate should
not be expanded or diluted in any way, listened as Amin
detailed the situation facing his ministry and outlined his
needs for assistance (ref A). There were pledges of support,
offers to share information, and Kuwait invited Amin and
staff to tour GOK facilities for cataloguing information on
missing persons and identifying remains. The Kuwaitis and
Saudis clearly sympathize with the Iraqis, but nevertheless
want to see their open files closed before taking on any new
projects. They were courteous during Amin's monologues, but
occasional moments of impatience were noticeable. Other TPC
members and the broader international community will need to
help Iraq strike a balance between responding to domestic
cries for information on Iraqi missing and dealing with its
neighbors who think that after 14 years, they have waited
long enough to close the files on their own missing. End
Summary and Comment.


U.S.-ICRC Bilat Focus on Role of TPC


--------------------------





3. (C) The TPC meeting was preceded by a U.S.-ICRC
bilateral meeting on November 23. ICRC Delegate-General
Balthasar Staehelin told Ambassador LeBaron (the U.S.
Ambassador to Kuwait and head of the U.S. Delegation) that
despite marked progress in the recovery, identification, and
repatriation of Kuwaiti and Saudi remains, the TPC remained
vital as the only neutral forum where members could discuss
their concerns. Moreover, the ICRC serves as a conduit for
information on Iraqis who are in fact refugees, not missing,
and who are not yet ready to be identified to the Iraqi
government. Staehelin invited U.S. input on how to sustain
Iraqi enthusiasm for the work of the TPC, explaining that
with hundreds of thousands of unaccounted for Iraqis, the
challenge would be to maintain the IIG's focus on the
hundreds of still missing Kuwaitis and Saudis, as well as
Captain Speicher, when the needs in Iraq were so pressing.
The Ambassador asserted that the U.S. will continue to assist
Iraq bilaterally and through international fora, but insisted
the TPC has a specific mandate that should not be altered.
Also present during the bilateral meeting were Adrian
Cronauer, OSD POW/Missing Personnel Office; Charles A.
Stonecipher, U.S. Mission Geneva; Natalie E. Brown, Embassy
Kuwait; Georges Comninos, ICRC Head of Operations for the
Middle East and North Africa; Christophe Beney, ICRC Head of
Delegation in Baghdad; and Michel Meyer, ICRC Head of
Delegation in Kuwait.

TPC Members Minus Iraq Agree not to Modify Mandate


--------------------------



--------------------------





4. (C) Prior to the actual TPC meeting, the Kuwaiti Mission
hosted a working dinner for the American, French, Saudi, and
British participants. Delegations applauded the cooperative
spirit under which TPC members are now meeting, pledged to
help the IIG in locating the sites of mass graves and
identifying the vast number of victims through means other
than the TPC, and agreed that the bulk of the TPC's work was
best handled by the Technical Sub-Committee (TSC).
Participants also shared the opinion that there was no longer
any real need for the TPC to meet more than annually, and
agreed to hold the next meeting November 14-15, 2005 in
Kuwait. They also agreed to renew the TSC for one year,
recommending that its next meeting occur in January 2005 in
Riyadh.

ICRC Credits Iraqis with Momentum of the Past Year


--------------------------



--------------------------





5. (C) Staehelin opened the official session by welcoming
the Iraqi delegation and acknowledging the positive momentum
achieved since the December 2003 meeting (ref B). He
remarked such progress would not have been possible without
the courage of the many Iraqi civilians who came forward to
share information on possible grave sites. He expressed
regret that most of the missing were dead, but noted that
simply locating and identifying them brought a measure of
solace to their families. The French Ambassador to Kuwait,
Claude Losguardi, and HMG's Ambassador to Kuwait, Christopher
Wilton, echoed Staehelin's comments.

Kuwait Stresses Families Need Closure


--------------------------





6. (C) Kuwait announced that of its 605 case files, 154
were now closed. Delegation Head Dr. Ibrahim Al Shaheen,
Under Secretary of the Amiri Diwan, expressed the GOK's
gratitude to the TPC and to coalition forces for creating
conditions under which Kuwaitis could finally be brought
home. He said he also empathized with the Iraqi people and
their need for closure, confiding that the remains of two of
his nephews were recently identified and repatriated and,
after 14 years, family members could finally sleep soundly.
He reasserted that the mandate of the TPC should not be
amended, but offered GOK technical assistance to the IIG in
setting up an office and building data banks for identifying
remains. Similarly, Saudi Arabia's Prince Dr. Muhammed Saud
al-Kabir Turki, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs and
Director General for International Organization Affairs,
announced the closure of 2 cases and agreed with the Iraqi
desire for greater transparency and coordination when
crossing international borders to excavate grave sites.

U.S. Notes Progress and Says Speicher Case Still Unresolved


--------------------------



--------------------------





7. (C) Ambassador LeBaron praised the work of the TPC and
welcomed the participation of the IIG. He condemned the
atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein's brutal regime and
spoke of the importance of bringing comfort to the families,
friends, and governments of the missing. He further restated
U.S. resolve to uncover the fate of USN Captain Michael Scott
Speicher. (Text of U.S. Statement provided in para 11.)

Minister Amin Reports 300,000-1 Million Missing Iraqis


--------------------------



--------------------------





8. (C) Iraqi Minister of Human Rights and Head of
Delegation Bakhtiar Amin monopolized much of the meeting with
the indulgence of TPC members. He said the IIG was glad to
be an active member of the TPC and he was pleased to
represent a new Iraq -- "one different from the past, having
a different spirit and different vision for the future."
Through resolution of the cases of the missing from the
1990-1991 Gulf War, Iraq was extending a hand to the
international community and asking to become a part of it and
to contribute to world peace and stability. He referenced
the "dark forces" that threatened stability and averred
Iraq's commitment to combat terrorism on behalf of the region
and the world. He reported that since the fall of Saddam
Hussein, 283 mass grave sites and been found and, security
permitting, Iraq intended to investigate them all and exhume
the bodies. This, however, is not a task Iraq can accomplish
alone. Amin described Iraq's national capacity to handle the
work as "zero" and appealed to the international community
for assistance, inviting TPC members to the January
conference in Amman (ref A). Amin said he was unaware of
Kuwait's plans to resume excavation of a Karbala site and
called for greater coordination and information-sharing so
that sites could be protected from grave-robbers and the IIG
could also benefit from the information revealed.


GOK Call for Condemnation of Previous Human Rights Abuses


--------------------------



--------------------------





9. (C) On the margins of TPC proceedings, the Kuwaiti
Ambassador said that in 2003, the GOK agreed not to address
at the UNHRC the state of human rights in Iraq since it was
possible that some of the POWs could have still been alive.
With unquestionable evidence that there are no surviving
POWs, the GOK intends to revisit the notion of a statement of
fact and will seek U.S. and EU support.




10. (U) Begin Text of U.S. Statement:

The United States would like to again thank the ICRC for its
continuing efforts to determine the fates of the many missing
civilians and military personnel from the 1990-1991 Gulf War.
This is a difficult task and we commend the ICRC for its
relentless pursuit on behalf of the families, friends, and
governments of those still missing. We also appreciate the
ICRC's hosting of this 27th meeting of the Tripartite
Commission (TPC). In the past year, we have seen increased
coordination among TPC members, but nevertheless welcome a
forum where we can come together to discuss our common
concerns.

We welcome the active participation of the Iraqi Interim
Government (IIG) to this gathering. The attendance of Iraqi
Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin at the September 7
meeting in Kuwait of the Technical Sub-Committee is
indicative of the IIG's determination to close open cases and
forge strong, cooperative relations with its neighbors. We
hope this degree of consultation will continue and even
improve following elections in January 2005.

While we mourn their deaths, we are gratified that the
remains of so many missing Kuwaitis continue to be identified
and repatriated. We offer our deepest condolences to their
families and the Government of Kuwait. We condemn the
murders of Kuwaiti citizens at the hands of Saddam Hussein,
but are heartened that their families can finally grieve and
celebrate the lives of their loved ones. Likewise, we offer
our condolences to the families of tens of thousands of Iraqi
citizens who died as a result of the brutal regime of Saddam
Hussein. The IIG faces no small task in locating hundreds of
sites of mass graves and recovering remains of victims of the
former regime. Both through this committee and bilaterally,
we stand ready to assist the people of Iraq in this important
but sad task.

We hope the enhanced consultation and coordination that
exists among TPC members will reveal new information on the
status of our own Captain Michael Scott Speicher. His case
remains open and the United States is determined to learn
what happened to him and bring him home.




11. (U) Meeting minutes will be faxed to NEA/ARPI.



12. (U) Baghdad: Minimize considered.


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LEBARON