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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08LILONGWE224
2008-04-16 14:20:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

MALAWI TO OPEN EMBASSY IN IRAN

Tags:   PREL  IR  MI 
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VZCZCXRO9837
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHDU RUEHKUK RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHLG #0224 1071420
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 161420Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LILONGWE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5194
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L LILONGWE 000224 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/S - E. PELLETREAU, INR - RITA BYRNES
USEUCOM PLEASE PASS TO USAFRICOM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2018
TAGS: PREL IR MI
SUBJECT: MALAWI TO OPEN EMBASSY IN IRAN

REF: 07 LILONGWE 856

Classified By: DCM Kevin Sullivan for Reasons 1.4(b),(d)



1. (C) Summary: During a mid-April visit to Tehran, Foreign
Minister Joyce Banda announced that the GOM will open an
embassy in Iran to strengthen bilateral ties between the two
countries, contradicting her previous statements in private
to the Ambassador. Deputy Foreign Minister Henri Mumba
publicly confirmed the plan to open an embassy, but
discounted Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reports that
President Mutharika would make a state visit to Iran. IRNA
had also reported that Banda stated publicly in Tehran that
all propaganda campaigns against Iran were fabricated, and
that she personally had realized that existing realities in
the country differed from anti-Iran propaganda; Mumba could
not confirm her exact quotes. The GOM maintains it will
primarily cooperate on agricultural, medical, and energy
projects. Comment: Malawi continues to seek foreign
assistance from all available sources, but recent trends -
discarding Taiwan for China, talks with Cuba about investment
in the Shire-Zambezi waterway, and the strengthening of
relations with Iran - are a bit worrisome. As Mutharika
approaches a contentious May 2009 election, he seems to be
seeking out new contributors who might be less critical of
government diversion of funds for partisan ends or other
irregularities. End Summary.



2. (C) During her current visit to Iran, Foreign Minister
Joyce Banda announced that the government of Malawi will open
an embassy in Tehran. This contradicted Banda's previous
assurances to the Ambassador that the GOM was only interested
in increased aid flows from Iran and had no plans to
establish resident relations (reftel). Deputy Foreign
Minister Henri Mumba confirmed the plan to open an embassy in
Tehran to the press, but he discounted IRNA reports that
President Mutharika would visit Iran, saying that the MFA was
not aware of any planned trips. (Comment: The MFA is often
unaware of Mutharika's plans, so this denial means little.
End Comment.) Malawi has maintained relations with Iran
since the 1970s but has never established resident ties.



3. (C) IRNA also stated that FM Banda had criticized Western
"propaganda campaigns" against Iran, and she claimed that she
now realized that existing realities in the country differed
from anti-Iran propaganda. Emboff sought confirmation of
these public remarks from Mumba, but the Deputy Foreign
Minister did not return phone calls. In press reports, the
GOM has maintained it will seek to increase cooperation
primarily in agricultural, medical, and energy projects.



4. (C) Comment: Malawi continues to seek foreign assistance
from all available sources, but the rhetoric attributed to FM
Banda, if true, is a slap against Malawi's western donors.
The MFA has been unresponsive to recent demarches concerning
UN Security Council Resolutions on Iran, perhaps because of
this impending development. At the same time, Malawi's recent
foreign initiatives including its recognition of mainland
China, discussions with Cuba about investment in the
Shire-Zambezi waterway, a visit last year by a Venezuelan
delegation, and this announcement in Iran represent a new and
somewhat adventurous trend by the hitherto-cautious
Malawians, justified in its entirety by aid funding.
Mutharika has clearly embarked on a financially-motivated
policy path, perhaps wishing to expand the donor base by
seeking out new aid contributors who would be less
conditionality-minded and less critical of financial
pecadillos in govenment here. We doubt any combination of
such non-traditional donors would be able to match the
contributions we and our European colleagues make to Malawi's
well-being and development, and in the end these new foreign
entanglements may wind up costing Malawi some of the little
flexibility it has in foreign affairs. End Comment.

EASTHAM