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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04THEHAGUE1513 2004-06-17 15:47:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
Cable title:  

NETHERLANDS: NATO AND IRAQ DISCUSSIONS ABOARD USS

Tags:   PREL MARR NL NATO 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 001513 

SIPDIS

USDOCOSOUTH NAPLES IT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/17/2014
TAGS: PREL MARR NL NATO
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS: NATO AND IRAQ DISCUSSIONS ABOARD USS
ENTERPRISE

REF: THE HAGUE 1454 (NOTAL)

Classified By: Daniel R. Russel, Deputy Chief of Mission. Reasons: 1.4
(b) and (d).



1. (SBU) Summary: The June 14-15 overnight visit of Dutch
Defense Minister Kamp and parliamentarians/officials to the
USS Enterprise carrier battle group provided a useful forum
for discussions on NATO and Iraq-related issues. Informally,
Dutch participants provided candid background regarding the
Cabinet's June 11 decision to extend the Dutch troop
deployment in Iraq, and assessed that the opposition PvdA
party would support the decision in parliament, albeit with
some defections. The positive results highlighted the value
of ship visits in promoting USG objectives with key host
country audiences. End Summary.



2. (U) Dutch Minister of Defense Henk Kamp, incoming CHOD Lt.
Gen. Dick Berlijn, RNLAF, and Amb. Sobel led a delegation of
Dutch Members of Parliament on an overnight embark aboard USS
Enterprise in the Atlantic from June 14-15. All three of the
ruling coalition parties, the Christian Democrats, Liberals
and Liberal Democrats, as well as the main opposition Labor
Party (PvdA) were represented by their floor leaders and/or
foreign and defense spokespersons.



3. (U) While onboard USS Enterprise, the Dutch delegation
received a briefing from ADM Johnson, Commander, U.S. Naval
Forces Europe and Allied Forces, Southern Europe on current
NATO issues to include, the threat profile facing the
alliance, NATO-EU relations and the NATO Response Force. The
Dutch participants tell us they greatly valued the
opportunity to review these issues with a senior NATO
commander as well as to witness the operations of the
Enterprise Carrier Strike Group and to interact with members
of the crew. Dutch participants actively engaged ADM Johnson
and each other on questions related to Alliance policy and
strategy in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and particularly on
the appropriate role for smaller nations like the Netherlands
in setting objectives and participating in alliance
operations.



4. (C) In addition to the formal briefings and discussions,
the overnight visit provided ample opportunity for informal
discussions between the Dutch parliamentarians, GONL
representatives, and Embassy personnel, some of which
provided useful background on the recent cabinet decision to
extend the deployment of Dutch troops in Iraq for an
additional eight months (reftel). Defense Minister Kamp, for
example, confided to Ambassador Sobel that he believed the
cabinet had left open the possibility of an additional
extension after the end of the eight month period, but that
subsequent public statements by PM Balkenende in response to
questions from parliament seemed to rule this out. He
allowed that the question would be revisited after the
January 2005 elections in Iraq.



5. (C) With regard to the upcoming parliamentary debate on
the extension decision, Labor Party (PvdA) Defense Affairs
Spokesman indicated that he expected the PvdA to support the
cabinet's decision, but only after significant internal
debate. He suggested that a vote in Parliament would almost
certainly come about as the result of a challenge from the
smaller Green Left opposition party, in which case some
members of the PvdA would probably defect from the party
line. The PvdA leadership's objective under these
circumstances would be to keep the number of defectors to a
minimum -- no more than 10 if possible. He expected that the
Parliament's defense committee would discuss the issue on
Tuesday, June 22, with a discussion and vote on the floor the
next day. (Note: We are beginning to hear from several
sources that a vote in parliament is expected to endorse the
extension decision resoundingly with the sort of large
majority the Dutch prefer to have on national security
issues. End Note.)



6. (SBU) Comment: This visit, with its eclectic mix of Dutch
parliamentary and government representatives, provided an
excellent opportunity to promote U.S./NATO objectives to a
diverse audience in a highly favorable environment; it also
provided a good opportunity for Dutch parliamentarians from
different parties to interact in a non-politicized
environment. Dutch participants report they were as
gratified by the chance to engage substantively with ADM
Johnson as they were impressed by the capabilities of the USS
Enterprise. Defense Minister Kamp repeatedly thanked
Ambassador Sobel personally for organizing the visit. By
coordinating themes for discussion and objectives prior to
the visit, Embassy the Hague and ADM Johnson's staff were
able to ensure that discussions on board ship were
meaningful. Post believes that such visits are a very useful
tool for our objectives among key host country audiences.
End comment.
SOBEL