2005-05-04 12:51:00
Embassy Ankara
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 002548 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/02/2015


B. STATE 79107

C. ANKARA 2432

Classified By: Counselor for Political-Military Affairs Timothy A. Bett
s for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 002548


E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/02/2015


B. STATE 79107

C. ANKARA 2432

Classified By: Counselor for Political-Military Affairs Timothy A. Bett
s for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


1. (C) Iraq and its neighbors--and numerous guests--held a
"friendly and interactive" foreign ministers' meeting in
Istanbul April 29-30, according to Turkish MFA officials.
Our interlocutors reported relatively little squabbling over
the communique text, though they apparently had to beat back
a Syrian bid to include language rejecting the threat or use
of force against Iraq or its neighbors, a clear jab at the
U.S. Zibari and his Egyptian and Syrian counterparts
reportedly had a sharp exchange on ethnic and sectarian
politics in Iraq. The Turks are seeking deeper UN
involvement in Iraq, especially in Kirkuk. In their
bilateral meeting, FonMins Zibari and Gul reportedly edged
closer to deals on an additional border gate (or gates) and
Turkey's desire to re-open its consulate in Mosul. So far
Turkey is off on the right foot with the ITG. End summary.

2. (C) On May 3, MFA Deputy Director General for the Middle
East Safak Gokturk provided PolMilCouns and PolMilOff a
readout from the April 29-30 Iraq neighbors' meeting held in
Istanbul, as well as the April 30 bilateral meeting between
FonMins Gul and Zibari. Full text of the neighbors' meeting
communique is in ref a. Gokturk reported that all the
foreign ministers were present except for Saudi FonMin Saud
al-Faisal, who was accompanying Crown Prince Abdullah on his
trip to the U.S. ITG PM Ja'afari had hoped to attend, but
begged off pending final swearing-in of his cabinet.
According to Gokturk, Ja'afari said he will try to come to
Turkey soon. Gokturk noted that in addition to the usual
lineup of Iraq and its neighbors plus Egypt and Bahrain (the
latter technically in its capacity as Chairman of the Gulf

Cooperation Council),the Secretaries-General of both the
Arab League and the OIC were present, as was SRSG Qazi, and a
European Commission representative. These additional guests
were also permitted to sit through the ministers'
deliberations on the final communique text, but only as

"Friendly and Interactive..."

3. (C) The meeting followed the usual format for neighbors
meetings, Gokturk reported. The tone was "friendly and
interactive," he said. Senior officials discussed the
communique text on April 29. PM Erdogan made brief public
remarks to inaugurate the session on April 30, then departed
as the meeting moved into closed session. The ministers made
opening statements, followed by lunch and then an open
discussion of the draft communique. Gokturk highlighted the
significance of this neighbors meeting, the first since Jan.
30 elections, and noted the communique's strong pledge "to
support and cooperate with" the ITG. (NOTE: In a discussion
earlier on May 3, MFA Iraq Desk Officer Hasan Sekizkok told
PolMilOff that Zibari had successfully requested the
ministers to add stronger language to para. four, the earlier
(Turkish) draft of which did not contain this pledge. END

...But a "Frank Exchange" Over Sectarian and
Ethnic Politics

4. (C) Sekizkok (and, less directly, Gokturk) described to us
a spontaneous "frank exchange" between the opening statements
and the lunch break among Zibari, Egyptian FonMin Gheit, and
Syrian FonMin al-Sharaa. Zibari asked that the Arab media
end its "incitement" (Sekizkok's word) against certain Iraqi
leaders, especially--but not limited to--Kurds. Gheit
reportedly responded that many in the Arab world are
uncomfortable with ethnic differences being openly stressed
in the political process in Iraq. Al-Sharaa spoke in support
of Gheit.

5. (C) Zibari responded that Saddam Hussein's regime
marginalized ethnic and sectarian groups, and that now the
Iraqi people were struggling to overcome this legacy and
unite. Zibari noted that "a certain community" did not
participate in the Jan. 30 elections, and that Shia mosques
throughout the country and Kurds living in Mosul were now
being targeted. Zibari reportedly emphasized that no one in
Iraq favors the country's division or disintegration. FonMin
Gul closed the discussion by noting that the diversity of
Iraq should be a source of strength, and that Iraq and its
neighbors should work to stress Iraq's common national

Syrian Attempts at Mischief on Communique Text
-------------- -

6. (C) Both Gokturk and Sekizkok reported relatively little
wrangling over the communique's text. Syria sought to add a
statement along the lines that the neighbors would reject the
threat or use of force against Iraq or any of its neighbors.
When Zibari assured the Syrians that they had no reason to
fear aggression from Iraq, the Syrians responded that their
real concern was over aggression "from outside the region."
According to our Turkish interlocutors, Gul broke in to say
that such language would be seen as provocative, would be
viewed as a sign of weakness, and would damage the
credibility of the neighbors meeting platform. The ministers
agreed to add a relatively harmless phrase to the end of
para. 20 (the neighbors' initiative will contribute, inter
alia, to "solidarity to ensure security in the area.").
Syria also reportedly objected to language at the end of
para. 4 supporting Iraqi federalism, so the ministers added
the anodyne phrase that Iraq should have a federal structure
"if so decided by the Iraqi people."

Turks Want the UN In

7. (C) PolMilOff noted to Sekizkok that the language in para.
10--expressing the "necessity for the United Nations to
establish itself more firmly and broadly on the ground in
monitoring and assisting the political process and economic
rehabilitation"--seemed somewhat stronger than in previous
such communiques. Sekizkok acknowledged that this was
somewhat stronger language and that this was how Turkey had
drafted it. He said that Turkey is disappointed that the UN
is not yet more deeply established in Iraq, and particularly
that it has no presence in Kirkuk. He said that he had asked
a UN official at the meeting why this was the case, and that
the official responded that SYG Annan favored opening a UN
office in Kirkuk but that SRSG Qazi was opposed (NFI).
Sekizkok also noted that--in his view--the SYG's reports on
Iraq tend to be far less detailed than those on Cyprus, an
issue which Sekizkok worked previously.

8. (C) Gokturk added a few more notes on the communique:

--Para. 6 (on war crimes committed against Kuwait and Iran)
was proposed by the Kuwaitis.

--The Turks added para. 7--supporting maintaining the
timeline for the constitution and elections by the end of
2005--"after consulting with you."

--Para. 12 (on terrorism) includes condemning attacks against
"stabilization efforts." Gokturk said this was the most the
Turks could win agreement to include condemning attacks
against MNF-I.

--Gokturk said the Turks "very carefully" drafted para. 13 to
deter insertion of a timetable for CF to leave Iraq.

Interior and Foreign Ministers Meetings to Continue
-------------- --------------

9. (C) Gokturk noted that Turkey will host the next neighbors
interior ministers' meeting as soon as the new Iraqi Interior
Minister is "in full grip of his portfolio." He added that
Turkey has specific proposals on border security to propose
at that meeting. Finally, he reported that Iran, Saudi
Arabia, and Bahrain had all volunteered to host the next
foreign ministers' meeting; Iran will host the next one, with
either Saudi Arabia or Bahrain to follow. He guessed that
the next such meeting would not take place before the June
U.S.-EU-Iraq meeting in Brussels.

Gul-Zibari Bilateral: Perhaps Some Openings

10. (C) Gokturk also provided us a brief readout on the April
30 Gul-Zibari bilateral. He said that Zibari seemed "more
open" on nettlesome Iraq-Turkey bilateral issues such as the
second border gate and the Turks' desire to re-open their
consulate in Mosul. Zibari told Gul he would instruct a
technical team to meet with the Turks as soon as possible on
the second gate. Gokturk said both sides seem to be
approaching consensus on the need to build more than one new

11. (C) According to Gokturk, Zibari stated that the only
obstacle to re-opening the Mosul consulate was the
insurgency; the minister did not cite the concern that the
Iranians would insist on opening consulates if the Turks did.
Gokturk noted that the insurgency would not allow Turkey to
set up shop in Mosul immediately anyway. Gokturk reported
that the ministers only discussed the PKK briefly, and that
Zibari stated that the ITG is determined to deal with this
problem eventually.

12. (C) Gokturk added that just before the neighbors meeting,
the Iraqi MFA had sent a diplomatic note to the Turkish
embassy in Baghdad seeking further information on training
courses Turkey has offered for the ISF. Gokturk thought this
was a positive development and perhaps indicates that the
Iraqis are giving serious considering coming to Turkey for

Comment: A Pretty Good Start for GOT-ITG Relations
-------------- --------------

13. (C) The Turks generally give us readouts from neighbors
meetings which can sound somewhat self-serving. But it
appears to us that the neighbors' platform has been generally
constructive, and the final communique--primarily drafted by
the Turks--is quite positive overall. As the Turks and the
Arab world grapple with a Shia- and Kurd-led government in
Baghdad, we hope the neighbors' meetings can continue to
provide a platform for some positive growth in the regional
relationship. The Turks were somewhat disappointed that PM
Ja'afari did not come to Istanbul--since this meeting was
already postponed once at his request--but for now they are
taking Ja'afari at his word that he will visit soon. We
believe (in response to ref b tasker) that Turkey's positive
statement upon the ITG's formation (ref c) and its hosting an
apparently successful neighbors meeting constitute getting
off on the right foot with the new Iraqi government. End

14. (U) Iraq posts minimize considered.