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09ASHGABAT556 2009-05-01 12:48:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ashgabat
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1. (C) During a meeting with Charge on April 29 regarding
recent denial of overflight to U.S. VIP planes, Deputy
Foreign Minister Wepa Hajiyev encouraged the Embassy to
follow up with MFA's America's Department following a meeting
between DATT and Turkmen State Civil Aviation (THY)
officials, scheduled for April 30 (reftel). This was wise
counsel. During the meeting with America's Department,
Department Head said that MFA cannot simply sign a note
stating that the United States does not owe the overflight
bill and dismiss the charges. He underscored that THY is
under a different Deputy Chairman, Nazarguly Shagulyev. As
influential as Deputy Chairman and Foreign Minister Rashid
Meredov may be, he cannot simply write a note that overrides
the other Deputy Chairman. Therefore, despite whatever
impression may have been left from the meeting with THY, the
overflight bill is not completely resolved.

2. (C) Bashimov said that he understood that the United
States cannot pay overflight fees. Nevertheless, he
encouraged us to be flexible and be prepared to discuss with
THY various options for "payment." This is the same advise
DFM Hajiyev gave prior to the meeting with THY.

3. (C) COMMENT: With THY looking to MFA to write off the
bill, and MFA looking for THY to receive some sort of other
&payment,8 it is difficult to know what should be offered
to whom to actually make the current bill, and threatened
bills for 2001-2006, and potential future bills go away.
Nevertheless, Bashimov (protect) has always been a good
interpreter of what goes on behind the curtain of Turkmen
bureaucracy. Plan A had been to discuss with THY a variety
of equipment and other items that could be "donated" in order
to deal with the overflight bill. It looks like perhaps we
should return to Plan A. END COMMENT.