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08ABUDHABI1418 2008-12-18 07:59:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abu Dhabi
Cable title:  

CROWN PRINCE'S MEETING WITH SENATOR BAUCUS

Tags:   PGOV OREP PREL PARM KPAL CVIS IR AE 
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1. (C) Summary. During his December 13-15 visit to the UAE (reported
septel), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) discussed the UAE's strategic
vision with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al
Nahyan (MbZ). Baucus noted his amazement with the UAE's progress.
MbZ presented an overview of the UAE's efforts to become a regional
"good news" story, despite security challenges. The US-UAE
relationship is strong but should continue to expand, including
through sending more UAE students in the United States. MbZ told
Baucus the new Administration should focus on the Middle East,
including the peace process and Iran. End Summary.



2. (C) On December 14, Senator Baucus, accompanied by the Ambassador,
Senate Finance Committee Staffer Demetrios Marantis and EconOff, met
with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, who was joined by UAE
Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba. Baucus told MbZ
that he was amazed by the UAE, which was even more stunning than he
expected. Baucus said that he was embarrassed he had not been aware
of how deep the US-UAE bilateral relationship was and appreciated the
UAE's cooperation on key issues, e.g., troops in Afghanistan,
leadership on the Santiago sovereign wealth fund principles, and
canceling Iraqi debt. Baucus told MbZ that Amb. Al Otaiba would help
more people -- in Congress and the United States -- understand the
UAE.

A MODEL FOR THE REGION -- AND THE WORLD


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





3. (C) MbZ told Baucus that the UAE is trying to send the right
message to the world and the region: "There's good news in the Middle
East." MbZ said the UAE encourages others in the region to follow
its positive examples, noting that the sheer number of expatriates
living in the UAE prove that "our lifestyle is better." He told
Baucus that "tens of thousands" of Saudi families live in the UAE,
although the fathers work in Saudi Arabia. UAE leadership is
motivated by a desire to ensure future generations, who he likened to
his own children, are "better than us." MbZ told Baucus that he
believes in retirement and looks forward to see the next generation
("my family or others") leading the nation. He noted that there must
be good preparation for a smooth transition.

SECURITY A CHALLENGE


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





4. (C) MbZ told Baucus that the UAE has enjoyed a high level of
security despite the presence of many nationalities. Noting the
recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, MbZ admitted that maintaining
security is a tough challenge in the region, but the UAE has been
lucky -- and had good leadership. He pointed to UAE military support
for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan: "Terrorists will not leave us alone,
so there is no reason to hide."

US-UAE RELATIONS STRONG


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





5. (C) With the support of friends like the United States, MbZ
predicted ultimately the UAE will prevail. He said it was important
to have US ships in the Gulf to send a clear message to Iran --
"until they have better leadership" -- that the US is committed to
regional security. MbZ and Al Otaiba told Baucus that more visits
from senior USG officials will further strengthen the bilateral
relationship. Baucus said that few on the Hill know the region well,
which can lead to protectionism. MbZ agreed that "we have to do our
homework," but the special relationship between the UAE and the
United States would not be affected if some things "don't work out."



6. (C) MbZ said that sending UAE students to the United States is an
important investment. The Ambassador noted that more UAE students
would obtain visas in 2008 than in any year since 2001. MbZ agreed
visa difficulties had dissuaded some students, but others were simply
nervous about traveling to the United States after September 11. MbZ
told Baucus he was pleased some U.S. universities like NYU are
opening campuses in the UAE, but that it was also important UAE
students go abroad to be exposed to other cultures.

ADVICE FOR NEW ADMINISTRATION


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





7. (C) Baucus asked MbZ for advice for the new President and
Congress. MbZ said he would like to see U.S. involvement in the
Middle East and the Peace Process from the beginning of the
president's term in office, not just a priority at the end. MbZ said
the world is changing quickly, so it is important to consider how new
developments, such as the current financial crisis, should impact
policies. We must work together to address future challenges like
Iran. MbZ likened Iranian aspirations today to the rise of Hitler in
the 1930s. He told Baucus Iranian leaders think they need nuclear
military capabilities in order to reestablish the Persian Empire.
Iran is a challenge, but MbZ said we must work to help them
understand "right and wrong."
OLSON