|09ASTANA2198||2009-12-23 01:31:00||SECRET||Embassy Astana|
VZCZCXRO3482 OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHSL DE RUEHTA #2198/01 3570131 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 230131Z DEC 09 FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7059 INFO RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE RHMFISS/CDR USTRANSCOM SCOTT AFB IL IMMEDIATE RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1832 RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1682 RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO IMMEDIATE 2932 RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 2637 RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY 2274 RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 1637 RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 1266 RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2338
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 002198
1. (S) SUMMARY: The long-existing east-west (trans-Caspian)
overflight path agreement the United States has had with
Kazakhstan to support U.S. efforts in Afghanistan never
specified (or limited) the cargo of the aircraft. The
agreement was simply to support Operation Enduring Freedom in
Afghanistan. And so, we initially judged that a request for
an additional overflight path, north-south, could be
relatively quickly achieved by a simple exchange of
diplomatic notes. That has not proved to be the case. As
soon as we specified "lethal" cargo, we triggered a policy
debate within the government of Kazakhstan that is still not
resolved. We believe that the Committee for National
Security (KNB, ex-KGB) and other conservative forces are
arguing to President Nazarbayev that public knowledge of
"lethal cargo" would make Kazakhstan a target for terrorist
attacks. We must stop publicly using the word "lethal" in
seeking a new north-south overflight path. If we can drop
that word, we likely will achieve our goal, but it will take
more time. END SUMMARY.
POLITICALLY DOABLE, BUT...
2. (S) During his December 15 meetings in Astana, Assistant
Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert
Blake raised the overflight request with President Nursultan
Nazarbayev's foreign policy adviser Kairat Sarybai and State
Secretary-Foreign Minister Kanat Saudabayev. Sarybai told
Blake, "Politically this is not a problem for us. We have
always supported, and continue to support, your policy in
Afghanistan. But we have to take our law into account.
Thus, we'll probably need parliamentary approval for this new
request." Sarybai stated firmly that the United States
should not emphasize -- should not even state openly -- that
our request is for lethal transit. "Do not use that word.
This would be a huge complication for us internally and
externally." Repeating that our request can ultimately be
achieved, that Kazakhstan broadly supports U.S. efforts in
Afghanistan because it is in Kazakhstan's interest to do so.
Sarybai added, "We have our historical experience how to live
with the dragon (China) and how to live with the bear
YIKES! LETHAL? DON'T SAY IT!
3. (S) When A/s Blake raised our need to have a quick reply
to our November 9 diplomatic note requesting the addition of
a north-south overflight path, Foreign Minister Saudabayev
blanched and replied, "Lethal, huh? That's a new issue for
us!" At A/S Blake's request, the Ambassador elaborated that
there is nothing at all new in this request, because, in
fact, the cargo of previous overflights had never been
specified. Saudabayev tasked Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat
Umarov and the Ambassador to work this issue intensively.
Saudabayev said, "You must convince us this is nothing new.
The more detail you can give us, the easier it will be for us
to convince our 'other agencies.'" Saudabayev added, "You
know from experience that not all head-of-state decisions
find support in society. That's why we need your very best
arguments that this is nothing new. Please pay attention:
you cannot, I emphasize cannot, use the word 'lethal' in the
agreement language, and especially never, ever in public."
Saudabayev expanded, "Our entire history of cooperation -- on
non-proliferation, on Iraq, on Afghanistan -- our strongest
desire to support President Obama, all of this shows that we
remain strongly committed to achieving mutual goals. But you
must make the strongest, most careful points possible, to
achieve this agreement." A/S Blake assured Saudabayev that
we would with with his team and respect Kazakhstan's
sensitivity about the word "lethal."
ASTANA 00002198 002 OF 002
4. (S) COMMENT: During these conversations, Kazakhstani
officials noted that they vetoed a recent Chinese request to
transit lethal equipment through Kazakhstan's territory for a
joint military exercise in Russia. They have that in mind
because of their policy of equivalent multi-vector foreign
policy. But even more important, we judge that Kazakhstan's
KNB is arguing strongly to President Nazarbayev that no
agreements can be made that would possibly expose Kazakhstan
to potential terrorist attacks. In their view, the transit
of "lethal" equipment and troops would do so. That, in the
end, is probably the key issue. We judge that an additional
north-south overflight path agreement is doable, but it will
take more time. Above all, in both private and -- especially
-- public statements, we should not use the word "lethal."
If we can drop that word, as we did in the the proposed
addendum (reftel) we likely will achieve our goal. But it
will probably take significantly more time now that we have
used the "L word" in our bilateral conversations. Achieving
an additional north-south overflight path will be this
Mission's highest immediate priority. END COMMENT.
5. (U) Assistant Secretary Blake cleared this cable.