|08SKOPJE574||2008-09-12 10:38:00||SECRET||Embassy Skopje|
1. (S) CDA conveyed points in reftel para. 8 to PM Gruevski
on Sept. 11, emphazing deep U.S. appreciation for the
outstanding service that Macedonia's soldiers have been
providing as part of coalition forces in Iraq. Gruevski
asked several clarifying questions and understands that due
to the improved security situation, Iraq desires to have far
fewer coalition partners operating there. He responded
positively to keeping Macedonian forces in Iraq until the end
of 2008, then withdrawing them.
2. (S) Gruevski asked if it was acceptable to brief this to
his regularly scheduled cabinet meeting Sep. 12, but agreed
not to when CDA requested that he keep this planning
confidential at this time.
3. (S) He expressed concern that when news emerges that
Macedonian forces will no longer serve in Iraq after 2008,
the media and opposition may charge that Gruevski is pulling
out due to conflicts with the U.S. government, and sought
assurance that when this is public he can state that this
decision is in full consultation and agreement with the U.S.
CDA responded that he can, and that we will publicly express
our appreciation for Macedonia's contributions and promptly
correct any contentions that the Macedonian troop withdrawal
was unilateral or uncoordinated.
4. (S) CDA said that the USG is considering future needs in
the NATO training mission in Iraq, as well as additional
needs in Afghanistan, and that it is possible that we would
seek Macedonian military participation in either or both. He
agreed to consider any such requests, and asked how many
forces we had in mind. CDA replied that these ideas were
still under consideration and that we would coordinate as
soon as we could. CDA noted that NAVEUR ADM Fitzgerald will
visit Skopje next week and may have further insights on our
thinking to share.
5. (U) Recommendations: to express appreciation for
Macedonia's sustained troop deployments in Iraq, we recommend:
-- letter from President Bush to President Crvenkovski, as
head of state and commander in chief;
-- letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Gruevski, as
head of government;
-- on camera public statement of appreciation by Secretary
Gates during his Oct. 7-8 visit to Macedonia.
6. (S) Action request: please advise whether we expect allies
to be able to announce the drawdown publicly prior to the
Sep. 23 U.S.-GoI event with allies at the UN.