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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08CAIRO247 2008-02-11 07:42:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
Cable title:  

A/S WELCH'S FEBRUARY 6 MEETING WITH AMRE MOUSSA

Tags:   PREL PGOV LE IS IZ EG 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000247 

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/07/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV LE IS IZ EG
SUBJECT: A/S WELCH'S FEBRUARY 6 MEETING WITH AMRE MOUSSA


Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Stuart Jones
Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) Summary. NEA Assistant Secretary David Welch met Feb
6 with Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa. Moussa
said that the Arab League and the U.S. "are in the same boat"
in Iraq, and argued against a precipitous troop withdrawal.
On Lebanon, Moussa will continue to push for implementation
of the "Arab League Initiative," with a special focus on
rapid presidential election and resolution of the cabinet
impasse. Moussa argued that Israeli settlement activity was
diminishing post-Annapolis momentum; A/S Welch urged Moussa
to take a closer look at overall settlement activity in the
West Bank, address the Arab League "culture of complaint" on
peace prospects, and provide more explicit public support for
Palestinian Authority President Abbas. Moussa argued that
Iran "does not have the right" to engage in discussions on
regional security, including with the U.S. End summary.



2. (C) IRAQ: Moussa told A/S Welch that the Arabs have come
to realize that "they are in the same boat" as the U.S. with
respect to Iraq. He said the League is continuing to support
political conciliation in Iraq, and is planning an April 22nd
meeting in Kuwait as a follow-up to the Sharm el Sheikh
conference in 2007. The most important thing, he said, is
for Arabs in Iraq to come together, and he assessed that
there was an increasing realization among Iraqis that Iranian
dominance was "not compatible" with Iraq's future. He said
that it is critical there be no precipitous withdrawal of
U.S. forces. Moussa said he interacts well with Iraqi PM
Maliki, FM Zebari, and Barham Salih, and that he believes
Maliki is "doing what he can under the circumstances." He
believed that most Iraqi Sunnis had "accepted" the reality
that the Shia are the majority. A/S Welch urged that Moussa
support increased Arab diplomatic activity with the Iraqi
government, including the reopening of Arab diplomatic
missions in Baghdad. Moussa agreed to do what he could.



3. (C) LEBANON: Moussa said he was planning to return to
Beirut February 8 to resume talks with the Lebanese political
factions. He would place special emphases on a rapid
presidential election and resolution of the cabinet impasse.
Moussa reported that many in the opposition were still
demanding the minority retain a "blocking third" in the
cabinet (i.e. 11 of 30 seats). He contended that his efforts
have moved the opposition slightly, and that a compromise
might be reachable if it included sufficient "guarantees" for
the opposition that would not allow the majority to claim an
"auto-majority" of 20 seats that would be impervious to a
veto. Practically speaking, he acknowledged that it was
unlikely that such an "auto-majority" would materialize on
major issues, given that the majority's share of seats (which
has its own internal fractions) would likely be between
13-15, with the president controlling 5-7. Nevertheless, he
said that neither the opposition nor the majority was
confident in its position, and therefore both sought to
maximize protection within any proposed cabinet structure.
He did not think that public USG support for the "Arab League
Initiative" would be helpful at this time.



4. (C) Moussa, in a frustrated tone, said he believed that
the SARG is the most dominant player in Lebanon, and that the
SARG is pushing to maintain this influence down to the most
minute details of the Lebanese political system. Iran is not
as concerned with details of the political dynamic, so long
as it maintains its influence and Hizballah remains in a
strong position. Moussa thought that a boycott of the Arab
League Summit by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others (scheduled
for March 29), might provide leverage against the Syrians;
A/S Welch assessed that the summit is not nearly as important
to Syria as is maintaining influence in Lebanon, and that
such leverage therefore would likely be minimal.



5. (C) ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN ISSUES: A/S Welch urged Moussa to
address a "culture of complaint" that permeated the Arab
world on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Performance is critical
for both Israel and the Palestinians, and the League should
be focused on this. Moussa argued that the burden was
squarely on Israel to stop post-Annapolis settlement
activity. A/S Welch challenged this contention, pointing out
that settlement expansion east of the West Bank security
barrier had been virtually halted. A/S Welch said that the
Olmert government remains committed to going forward, and
that he expects a period of "intense bargaining" in the
coming months. The USG expects settlement outposts to be
removed. It is critical that the key players, such as
Moussa, support this process. Moussa contended that the
League does support Abbas, and returned to his view that
Israeli settlement activity, especially around Jerusalem, was
currently the major issue. He argued for a withdrawal to the
lines of September 28, 2000 and said that Israeli control of
Jerusalem is not a fait accompli, as he claimed Israelis
believe, but rather an issue to be negotiated. A/S Welch

CAIRO 00000247 002 OF 002


agreed that Jerusalem was a special issue, and has been
treated as such in all negotiations including the current
GOI-PA discussions.



6. (C) A/S Welch urged Moussa to be more explicit on Arab
League support of Abbas in the context of the recent
Gaza/Rafah crisis. Moussa said that the League does publicly
support Abbas; A/S Welch urged Moussa to make clear to all
Arab League states their responsibility to support Abbas, as
opposed to the Hamas orchestrators of the physical invasion
by tens of thousands of Gazans into Egypt. Moussa declined
to view the recent influx of tens of thousands of Gazans into
Egypt as an "invasion" orchestrated by Hamas, notwithstanding
the fact that the barrier along the Philadelphi corridor had
been destroyed. Moussa said that the League does not support
the rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, but focused on the
humanitarian pressures facing the Gazans as the precipitate
to the recent Gaza/Rafah crisis.



7. (C) Iran: Moussa declared that the U.S. should not have
discussions with Iran about regional security. A/S Welch
responded that the USG does not currently have such
discussions with Iran, and expressed confusion about why
Moussa would raise the issue. Moussa rephrased, saying that
Iran "does not have the right" to discuss regional security
"with anyone" in the absence of Arab states. Moussa said he
has delivered this message to the Iranians, most recently to
Ali Larijani during his visit of early 2008.

8 (U) A/S Welch did not have the opportunity to clear this
cable before departing Cairo.
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