|09CAIRO1788||2009-09-15 10:48:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Cairo|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001788
1. (C) Key Points:
-- According to Arab League (AL) Cabinet Chief Hisham
Youssef, the key topics of discussions at the September 9-10
AL Ministerial included the Iraqi-Syrian dispute, the crises
in Sudan, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
-- The AL and Turkey are mediating the Iraq-Syria security
dispute and have presented a "confidence-building proposal"
that encouraged both countries to return their Ambassadors
and asked them not to escalate the dispute in the media.
There is a tentative follow-up meeting in Turkey on either
Wednesday September 16 or Thursday September 17
-- Optimism on the Middle East peace process is "declining"
due to the Israeli decision to build 500 additional housing
units in the settlements. Youssef said the League is hoping
for good news from S/E Mitchell's current visit, but if there
is no settlement freeze, the Arab Peace Initiative (API)
committee will advise Abu Mazen not to return to trilateral
peace talks. The next meeting of the API committee is
scheduled for September 22.
-- The ministers are "cautiously optimistic" about the
improving situation in Darfur. The Sudanese Minister of
State asked AL ministers to support the Doha process.
However, Youssef said that the AL is concerned about the
deteriorating situation in southern Sudan
2. (U) Briefing the diplomatic community in Cairo, Arab
League Cabinet Chief Hisham Youssef said the September 9-10
AL ministerial focused on the Iraqi-Syrian dispute, the
crises in Sudan, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. He said that
the meetings on the margins of the ministerial were much more
substantive than the general sessions.
Iraq and Syria Welcome AL and Turkish Mediation
3. (C) Youssef said that AL SYG Amr Moussa had separate
discussions with Iraqi FM Zebari and Syrian FM Moallem to get
their perspectives on the bilateral dispute over the August
19 bombings in Baghdad. These meetings were followed by a
"quartet meeting" that included Moussa, Moallem, Zebari, and
Turkish FM Davutoglu. Youssef categorized the discussions as
"frank" and said that both Iraqi and Syrian representatives
expressed their governments' desires to "ease the tensions"
and "resolve the issue." The AL and Turkey presented a
"confidence-building proposal" that encouraged the countries
to return their Ambassadors and asked them not to escalate
the dispute in the media. According to Youssef, the Syrian
and Iraqi FMs welcomed the Turkish and AL mediation. Both
Moallem and Zebari returned to their capitals for
consultations, and there will be a follow-up meeting in
Turkey on Thursday September 17. Youssef told Poloff
privately that at this meeting, Iraq will share with Turkey
satellite imagery evidence to support its position. He told
us that Syria was also keen to examine the satellite photos.
Declining Optimism on U.S. Mideast Peace Efforts
4. (SBU) Youssef said AL ministers condemned the Israeli
decision to build 500 additional housing units in the
settlements. He praised the efforts of S/E Mitchell and said
that he should be "given every chance to succeed." However,
Youssef said that optimism about the U.S. approach was
"beginning to decline." He told us that the API committee
will meet with Abu Mazen on September 22 after the AL
receives a readout of S/E Mitchell's current visit to the
region. This will allow the committee to review "any
progress" from the visit and evaluate its options. Youssef
stressed that Abu Mazen asked for AL support, and unless
there is a complete settlement freeze, including East
Jerusalem, the API committee will advise Abu Mazen not to
return to trilateral peace talks. He stated that the AL
CAIRO 00001788 002 OF 002
already paid the price for an end to Israeli settlement
activity when it halted the Arab boycott of Israel. Youssef
said that the League is hoping for good news from the
Mitchell visit, but the AL must be ready to act on both good
news and bad news.
5. (SBU) Youssef said the AL was fully supportive of
Egyptians efforts to reconcile the Palestinian factions. He
said SYG Moussa met Khalid Meshaal "behind the scenes" and
encouraged him to cooperate with Egyptian efforts. Youssef
hoped that the next meeting of the Palestinian factions after
Ramadan would bear fruit.
Buoyed by Progress in Darfur; Concern over South Sudan
6. (SBU) Youssef said there was a special September 10
meeting on Sudan. Ali Kurti, the Sudanese Minister of State
for Foreign Affairs told the group that Government of Sudan
(GoS) was focused on efforts to resolve the situation in
Darfur and encouraged the other ministers to support the Doha
process. Youssef praised the work of S/E Gration and UN/AU
Mediator Djibril Bassole to resolve the Darfur crisis.
According to Youssef, Professor Hassan Mohamed (NFI) told the
group that USD 100 million in financing had been received
from Arab countries and the AL to provide food aid, health
clinics and wells in Darfur. (Note: Youssef said that Saudi
Arabia and Qatar had provided USD 20 million each, Libya had
given USD 10 million, and the AL had given USD 8 million. End
Note). Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed
bin Abdallah Al Mahmoud praised the efforts of Libya and
Egypt to unite the Darfur groups. He gave a presentation on
next steps, which include a meeting of the Arab-African
committee, a group of 12 Arab and 12 African countries, on
September 24 in New York during the UNGA. This will be
followed by discussions with rebel leaders in Doha at the end
of October that would set the stage for negotiations with the
GoS. Youssef characterized the Sudan meeting as "cautiously
optimistic" on Darfur. However, Youssef expressed concerns
about the deteriorating situation in southern Sudan. He said
that the AL supports the S/E Gration's "trilateral mechanism"
that includes the USG, NCP and SPLM.
The NPT and the AL's Global Engagement
7. (SBU) Youssef mentioned that the AL is "looking forward"
to the UNSC's discussion of the non-proliferation treaty
(NPT) on September 24 in New York. He said that the League
welcomes the reduction of strategic nuclear weapons and the
"universal principle" of non-proliferation.
8. (U) Youssef told the diplomats that the AL is coordinating
worldwide with numerous governments and organizations. In
addition to the Arab-African committee, the League is
sponsoring an Arab-Japanese forum in Japan in December and
Arab and European FMs plan to meet in late December or early
January. The AL also signed an agreement to hold an
Indo-Arab forum in India in February 2010, and the AL will
organize a "China Forum" during the second quarter of 2010.
Arab-Turkish, Arab-Russian, and Arab-Latin American fora will
also be held in the near future.