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09KUWAIT25 2009-01-12 09:10:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kuwait
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DE RUEHKU #0025/01 0120910
P 120910Z JAN 09
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 000025 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2018

Classified By: Ambassador Deborah K. Jones for reasons 1.4 b and d

1. (C) Summary: In a January 8 meeting, Senator Joe Biden,
accompanied by Senator Lindsey Graham, briefed Prime Minister
Shaykh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Jaber Al Sabah and Foreign
Minister Shaykh Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al Sabah on the
U.S. political transition and cabinet formation process. In
a wide-ranging conversation on regional topics, the Kuwaitis
urged the incoming Obama administration to work with Russia
to build an international coalition capable of dissuading
Iran from the nuclear weapons option, sought enhanced
engagement with Pakistan to combat terrorism, and discussed
the future of Iraq. The PM expressed Kuwaiti anguish over
the "genocide" in Gaza. Senator Biden emphasized that he was
traveling to the region in his capacity as the outgoing
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and that
he and President-elect Obama had made it clear there is only
one President at a time and that he was here to listen.
Biden noted the difficulties of dealing with an Iran that has
rejected all efforts to bring its nuclear program within IAEA
safeguards, commented on the desirability of improved
relations with Russia, and queried the Kuwaitis on their
views of the situation in Pakistan, India, and Iraq. End

2. (C) During a January 8 overnight stay in Kuwait, Senator
Joe Biden (D-Delaware), accompanied by Senator Lindsey Graham
(R-South Carolina) met with Prime Minister Shaykh Nasser
Al-Mohammed Al-Jaber Al Sabah at Shwaykh Palace, the PM's
residence. Participants included:

United States


The Ambassador
Senator Joseph Biden
Senator Lindsey Graham
DCM Alan Misenheimer
Political Counselor (notetaker)



Prime Minister Shaykh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al Sabah
Foreign Minister Shaykh Dr. Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al Sabah
Deputy Minister for Diwan Affairs Shaykh Ali Al-Jarrah Al

Incoming U.S. Cabinet to be "Centrist" and "Coherent"



3. (C) Senator Biden briefed the Prime Minister on the
efforts of the incoming administration of President-elect
Obama to appoint a Cabinet that holds the confidence of all
Americans. While acknowledging that the incoming
administration is now in a "honeymoon" phase, Biden stressed
that he is optimistic that a real measure of rapprochement
between Democrats and Republicans can be achieved as the new
administration faces the present array of global challenges.

Concerns Over Iranian Intransigence


4. (C) A wide-ranging foreign policy review touched first on
Iran. The PM pointed out that the Bushehr nuclear reactor is
less than 100 miles from Kuwait. Observing that Iranian
intransigence has left few options, Biden queried the PM on
his views. The PM acknowledged that the GOK is deeply
concerned about Iran's perceived determination to build a
nuclear weapon -- an outcome that it believes could occur
within two years -- but does not see a clear path to turning
Iran away from its nuclear ambitions. He noted, however,
that the GOK rejects the option of a military attack on Iran
or its nuclear facilities as a non-starter and views
negotiations as the sole viable option. One possibility, he
suggested, would be for the USG and other powers to work with
Russia, which has considerable influence over Iran's nuclear
program, to provide fissile material for nuclear power, while
steering the Iranians away from the nuclear weapons option.
Biden, in response, noted that the USG had been receptive to
just such an approach, but the Iranians had rejected it.

5. (C) Picking up the thread of the conversation, FM Dr.
Mohammad noted that Kuwait and the other GCC states had
recently concluded at the GCC Summit in Muscat that, given
Iran's hegemonic behavior and its "belligerence" towards GCC
interests in Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and the Gulf, the GCC
was "not ready" to have multilateral relations with Iran.
Individual GCC states will continue to conduct bilateral

KUWAIT 00000025 002 OF 003

relations with Iran, but there appeared to be little scope
for these states to directly impact Iran's nuclear program.
The FM acknowledged that the GOK is "perplexed" over how to
deal with Iran on the nuclear issue and also surprised by the
complaisance of the international community. Acquisition by
Iran of a nuclear weapon, he noted, should be a concern of
the international community -- and particularly of Russia,
Iran's neighbor -- and not just the USG and the GCC. With
this in mind, the FM urged the USG to work with Russia to
build an international coalition that could effectively
pressure Iran, noting that the effectiveness of existing
sanctions had run its course.

Examining the Russia Option


6. (C) Biden agreed with the importance of bringing Russia
into the equation. He noted, however, that over the past
several years there has been an erosion in the U.S. ability
to lead a coalition, and it will take time to rebuild our
capacity to lead.

7. (C) Senator Graham commented that he agreed with Biden and
the GOK interlocutors that it would be helpful to have the
Russians fully engaged in an effort to dissuade Iran from
pursuing the nuclear weapons option, but wondered about the
probable regional response if the effort failed. Would Saudi
Arabia or the other GCC states attempt to acquire a nuclear
weapons capability of their own? Throwing up his hands, the
PM responded that Kuwait and the other GCC states had no
option but to "insist on peaceful talks." None of the GCC
states would attempt to acquire a nuclear weapon; they would
"leave this burden on our allies."

India and Pakistan


8. (C) Biden said the purpose of his present visit was to
assess the "baseline" of what directions our friends in the
region believe the USG under an Obama administration should
pursue, especially with regard to Afghanistan, Pakistan,
India and Iraq. Responding on this issue, FM Dr. Mohammad
said that in the wake of the recent Mumbai terrorist attack
-- and given the large number of Pakistani expatriate workers
in Kuwait -- the GOK had determined that it needed to enhance
its cooperation with Pakistani security services to combat
terrorism. The GOK, he said, believes the global community
-- including India -- needs to engage the present Pakistani
government, not isolate it.

9. (C) Prime Minister Shaykh Nasser Al-Sabah, however,
expressed a gloomier view of Pakistan, characterizing the
country as an anarchic state with a weak president who
exercises little control outside the capital, and whose
tribal groups are involved in weapons trading. The PM also
asserted that Benazir Bhutto had flagged for U.S. and Saudi
leaders some thirteen years earlier the interest of Iranian
President Rafsanjani in acquiring the services of AQ Khan but
that her warnings had apparently gone unheeded in Washington.

Anguish Over "Genocide" In Gaza


10. (C) The PM raised an issue that has been at the forefront
of the GOK's recent agenda, noting Kuwaiti horror over the
"genocide" it perceives is being perpetrated in Gaza, a
situation which he said the "whole Islamic world opposes" and
which he characterized as a "Rwanda for the Middle East."
Senator Biden, responding, noted that USG practice is for
only one administration at a time to comment on such matters.

All Aboard for A Unified Iraq


11. (C) Senator Graham commended the GOK for its decision to
re-establish an embassy in Iraq and queried the PM about his
assessment of Iraq's future. When the PM responded with a
long-held GOK position that "we favor a unified Iraq," Biden
assured him emphatically that no one in the incoming Obama
administration supports the notion of a partitioned Iraq.
Biden said the question remains how to achieve that outcome
given strong differences of opinion between Arabs and Kurds
and Sunni and Shia and the lack of a consensus among regional
powers on what they will support in Iraq. Thanking his
interlocutors for Kuwait's support for Operation Iraqi
Freedom, Biden acknowledged that the "U.S. can only leave

KUWAIT 00000025 003 OF 003

Iraq with Kuwaiti support. You are our ingress and our

12. (U) CODEL staff cleared this cable.

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For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit: s

Visit Kuwait's Classified Website:
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