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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07TUNIS84 2007-01-17 15:32:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tunis
Cable title:  

DAS CARPENTER'S MEETING WITH FM ABDALLAH

Tags:   PGOV KDEM KMPI PREL TS 
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VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTU #0084/01 0171532
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171532Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2500
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L TUNIS 000084 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/FO - GRAY, CARPENTER, NEA/PI - ORBACH,
NEA/MAG - HOPKINS/HARRIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/15/2017
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KMPI PREL TS
SUBJECT: DAS CARPENTER'S MEETING WITH FM ABDALLAH

REF: STATE 3592

Classified By: AMBASSADOR ROBERT F. GODEC FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) AND (d)



1. (C) SUMMARY: During his January 10-12 visit to Tunis, NEA
Deputy Assistant Secretary J. Scott Carpenter met with
Foreign Minister Abdelwaheb Abdallah on January 11. DAS
Carpenter briefed Abdallah on the President's January 10
speech on Iraq. Abdallah stressed the importance of rooting
out terrorism, but said "we may diverge" on the means of
doing so. DAS Carpenter engaged the FM on questions of
Tunisian political reform and asked why a variety of MEPI
programs running well elsewhere hadn't gotten off the ground
in Tunisia. While Abdallah appeared unaware of details
relating to Tunisian participation in MEPI, he appeared
receptive to hearing more about the programs. END SUMMARY.



2. (SBU) Participants:

United States


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





J. Scott Carpenter, Deputy Assistant Secretary, NEA
Robert F. Godec, Ambassador
Benjamin Orbach, NEA/PI
Susannah Cooper, PolOff (notetaker)

Tunisia


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



Abdelwaheb Abdallah, Minister of Foreign Affairs
M'hamed Chelaifa, MFA Director General for the Americas and
Asia
Mohamed Saleh Tekaya, Office of the Minister



3. (C) IRAQ: DAS Carpenter began by briefing the Minister on
the details of the President's January 10 speech on Iraq
(reftel) and passing Abdallah a copy of the text. Abdallah
said the speech was very important, but he had yet to read
the details. Abdallah specifically asked about the Iraq
Compact, noting that he understood the United States had
previously refused to convene an international conference on
Iraq. Abdallah added, "The question of Iraq is a question
for the whole region...as we live the direct and indirect
consequences of that situation." Further, Abdallah said that
as long as violence continues in Iraq and Palestine, we will
never have real peace in the world. DAS Carpenter noted that
the Secretary would shortly be visiting the region to discuss
both Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian issue.



4. (C) BILATERAL ISSUES: DAS Carpenter explained that the
United States and Tunisia should find ways to broaden
bilateral cooperation and move beyond stale discourse. He
said the United States is committed to certain principles,
which will always be discussed in the bilateral relationship.
DAS Carpenter explained that there are various ways of
confronting extremism, including political means. Abdallah
said that the United States and Tunisia must pull out the
roots of terrorism, but "we may diverge" on how best to do
so. Abdallah stressed that once the root causes of extremism
are addressed, increased political space will follow,
particularly regarding liberty, political freedom, and
non-governmental organizations. DAS Carpenter stressed that
in the case of Tunisia there was no reason not to do more
now. Tunisia can find ways to increase political space for
legitimate association and expression, in an effort to combat
radicalism, he said. He highlighted a variety of successful
MEPI programs in the region, including educational, media,
banking and political programs. DAS Carpenter asked why it
was that none of these programs were currently active in
Tunisia.



5. (C) Abdallah acted surprised by the question, asking "In
what areas do we not have cooperation?" and inquiring of his
MFA colleagues, "Why don't we have these programs?" He went
on to stress that Tunisia, unlike others, has a long history
of institutions and democracy. Tunisia's choice of democracy
is irreversible, said Abdallah, but unfortunately people
misunderstand the situation. Abdallah complained about US
discourse on press freedom and opined that there has been
much more diversity in the Tunisian press over the past six
to eight months. DAS Carpenter said the USG had noticed some
small openings in freedom of expression in the Tunisian
media, but that more should be done. He also used the
discussion to suggest the GOT explore programs that seek to
improve media professionalism and circulation. Abdallah,
intentionally misunderstanding the suggestion, stressed that
foreign financing for local media was "blasphemous," but that
training programs were possible. (NOTE: Separately on
January 11, MFA Deputy Director for North America Moez
Sinaoui told PolOff the Foreign Minister was not particularly
familiar with MEPI. Sinaoui suggested that post provide the
MFA with a list of the programs DAS Carpenter had raised.
EmbOffs, in coordination with MEPI/RO, will follow up with
the MFA to suggest MEPI programs including media and
educational programs. Ambassador will also provide material,
including possible program specifics, to FM Abdallah. END
NOTE.)



6. (SBU) BIO NOTES: Abdallah began the meeting by noting his
limited English, "Sorry for my English is so bad" and later
commented, "It is easier to read English than to speak it."
He noted that he looks forward to his February trip to
Washington, but "I prefer New York."



7. (U) This cable has been cleared by DAS Carpenter.
GODEC