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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07MOSCOW4723 2007-09-26 13:32:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
Cable title:  

READOUT OF ZEBARI VISIT: STRONGER ECONOMIC TIES,

Tags:   PGOV PREL ECON RS IQ 
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FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4163
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 004723 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON RS IQ
SUBJECT: READOUT OF ZEBARI VISIT: STRONGER ECONOMIC TIES,
DEBT RELIEF ON THE HORIZON

REF: A. MOSCOW 4490

B. MOSCOW 4305

Classified By: CDA Daniel A. Russell for reasons 1.4 (b/d).



1. (C) Summary: MFA Middle East and North Africa Department
Deputy Director Aleksandr Kinshchak characterized Iraqi
Foreign Minister Zebari's September 18-21 visit to Moscow as
"successful." Kinshchak, who took part in the meetings, told
us that Zebari gave Foreign Minister Lavrov a positive but
realistic assessment of the political situation in Iraq,
suggested that Coalition efforts in the Anbar Province could
be used as a "model" for other Sunni strongholds, discussed
the likelihood of "one last extension" of the UNSC mandate
for the MNF, and promoted Iraq's proposal to create a
permanent secretariat to coordinate international efforts.
Kinshchak said Russia was "very pleased" that Zebari agreed
to convene a meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission
before the end of the year and to sign an MOU on trade and
economic cooperation. Zebari got the message that the
signing of the MOU would go hand in hand with the signing of
the agreement on debt relief to Iraq. End summary.

Zebari Says Political Situation "Slowly Improving"


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2. (C) MFA Middle East and North Africa Department Deputy
Director Aleksandr Kinshchak told us on September 25 that
Iraqi FM Zebari held "successful and productive" meetings
with FM Lavrov and Industry and Energy Minister Khristenko on
September 21 (ref A). Kinshchak, who sat in the meetings
with Lavrov and Khristenko, said that Zebari was cautiously
optimistic about the general trends in Iraq, noting that the
political situation was "slowly improving." Zebari pointed to
the situation in Anbar Province, where Coalition Forces and
the Iraqi Government are successfully working with local
Sunnis to limit sectarian violence, as a possible "model"
that could be replicated in Mosul, Tikrit and other cities
where there is a significant Sunni population. Zebari noted,
however, that the fundamental problem with this model is that
by supplying Sunni sheiks with arms, Shiites are increasingly
worried that the Coalition may be "switching sides." When
asked to what extent al-Maliki was concerned about the rift
in his cabinet, Zebari responded that such developments are a
"normal part of the democratic process" and added that
al-Maliki told those who left his cabinet that time is
running out on their return to the government, as they "risk
being replaced."

Extension of UNSC Mandate for MNF Likely


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





3. (C) When Lavrov asked about Iraq's plan to seek an
extension of the UNSC mandate for Coalition Forces, Zebari
said the subject is still under consideration. However,
Zebari predicted the GOI would move to seek one last one-year
extension, provided that the U.S. and Iraq sign a "bilateral
status of forces agreement" in the near future. According to
Kinshchak, Lavrov and Zebari did not spend much time
discussing the Petraeus/Crocker report or the drawdown of
Coalition Forces. Stressing that this is an issue between
the U.S. and Iraq, Lavrov only reiterated for Zebari the
Russian view that the U.S. needs to create a "real" timetable
for withdrawing troops (ref B). He argued that a timetable
would decrease violence by signaling to extremists that the
U.S. had no intention of staying in Iraq and would force the
Iraqi government to tackle more quickly the myriad political
and economic challenges facing the country.

"Internationalization" of Iraq on Track


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





4. (C) Lavrov and Zebari agreed that the October 31 -
November 1 Expanded Neighbors Ministerial in Istanbul would
further internationalize support for the Iraqi government,
which both recognized as the correct approach to stabilizing
the county. Lavrov told Zebari that Russia strongly supports
a collective approach to Iraq and not one in which "a single
country thrusts its solution upon the international
community." Zebari promoted Iraq's proposal to create a
permanent secretariat in Baghdad to coordinate international
efforts. Kinshchak said Lavrov supported the proposal, but
cautioned that Arab countries that do not have embassies in
Baghdad would be opposed to the location. On the composition
of the secretariat, Lavrov acknowledged the contribution of
many countries and institutions but suggested that Iraq keep
the secretariat a compact organization. Zebari admitted that
the Iraqi government had not fully thought through the makeup
of the secretariat but opined that Iran, Syria, and Russia

MOSCOW 00004723 002 OF 002


should be asked to take part.

Stronger Economic Ties, Debt Relief on the Horizon


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5. (C) In separate meetings with Zebari, Lavrov and Industry
and Energy Minister Khristenko spoke at length about
improving economic ties and addressing Russia's pending oil
contracts. Kinshchak said Russia was very pleased to hear
from Zebari Iraq's willingness to convene a meeting of the
Russia-Iraq Intergovernmental Commission on trade and
economic cooperation in December in Moscow. Russia was also
pleasantly surprised that Zebari agreed to sign an MOU on
trade and economic cooperation, which Khristenko stressed was
exactly the sort of stimulus Russia needed to complete the
agreement on debt relief to Iraq. Kinshchak also said Zebari
met with Lukoil President Alekperov, but Kinshchak was not
present and could not provide details, nor could he confirm
press reports that Zebari had invited Alekperov to Baghdad.



6. (C) In response to questions from Lavrov and Khristenko,
Zebari doubted that the Iraqi Parliament would pass before
the end of the year legislation on de-Baathification reform,
local elections, constitutional reform, and the organization
of the oil industry. However, Zebari noted that the Iraqi
Government considers the oil law a priority and expressed
confidence that the bill would be adopted by the end of the
year.
Russell