|09STATE105341||2009-10-08 21:45:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Secretary of State|
VZCZCXYZ0000 PP RUEHWEB DE RUEHC #5341 2812205 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 082145Z OCT 09 FM SECSTATE WASHDC TO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0000 INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0000
UNCLAS STATE 105341
1. SUMMARY. A/S Brimmer met with Egyptian UN Director Naela
Gabr on September 22 on the margins of the 64th UN General
Assembly (UNGA). The discussion focused on gender issues,the
Middle East Safeguards resolution,food security,human rights,
UNESCO Director-General election and the UNESCO. END SUMMARY.
2. At a meeting with IO Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer,
Egyptian UN Director Naela Gabr touched on a wide range of UN
issues. Gabr mentioned that Egypt's leadership of the
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was a key priority. As President
of the NAM, they were open to fostering North-South
cooperation in the UN. They supported "re-structuring
exercises" that would preserve the credibility and efficiency
of the UN and enhance the UN's ability to play a role in
solving world crises. Egypt was committed to strengthening
the role of the General Assembly in the UN system through
greater system-wide coherence, "maintaining the role of
ECOSOC," and avoiding duplication and increasing transparency.
UNESCO Director General Elections
3. Towards the end of the meeting, Gabr expressed "shock"
that Egyptian candidate Farouk Hosni was defeated in the
UNESCO Director-General elections, noting that Egypt was
itself "the world's largest open-air museum" and citing
Egypt's close work with UNESCO over the years. She noted
that this defeat would have a negative impact on multilateral
affairs. Gabr said she had spoken to Ambassador Scobey,
saying that if Egypt were defeated, people would say that it
was because of "underground maneuvers" by the United States,
which could affect the bilateral relationship, as well. Gabr
said that the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had always
been particularly supportive of a constructive working
relationship with the United States, but that the UNESCO
election defeat would have a "bad effect, an effect that is
negative to the end of the world."
4. (SBU) A/S Brimmer noted that the tone of the race was
inappropriate and that the United States did not like the way
our ambassador was portrayed in the Egyptian media. She
called for the highest standards of conduct in all UN
elections. Gabr agreed, but stated that she felt that many
of the candidates, including the Austrian and Ecuadorian
candidates, were not sufficiently qualified for the position.
Gabr felt that the campaign was not fair. That said, Gabr
noted that not being Director-General would free Egypt's
"movements." She implied that Egypt might express its
displeasure in multilateral cultural fora, including the
World Heritage Council. She specifically cited "preserving
Jerusalem's identity" as an area in which they had high
expectations of UNESCO, something on which they would make no
concessions in the future. Gabr said that regardless of the
outcome of the UNESCO elections, however, she was committed
to working together with us in other areas going forward.
5. Gabr noted that Egypt expects to host two major
conferences on women's issues and development, one with the
NAM and one with the Organization of the Islamic Conference
(OIC). A/S Brimmer mentioned that maternal health was also a
key U.S. priority; Gabr replied that Egypt would be eager to
work with us on that issue.
6. Regarding the September 14 GA resolution creating the
gender entity, Gabr said that the leader of the entity should
be sensitive to: (a) "norm setting" that would result in
concrete outcomes; (b) operational activities; and (c)
monitoring. Gabr was particularly concerned that monitoring
efforts should not overlap with those of the other bodies.
Gabr expressed further concern that the relationship between
the new architecture and the UN Security Council was not
clear. Both A/S Brimmer and Gabr agreed that violence
against women in conflict situations was a grave threat
against international peace and security that should be
addressed by the Council. Gabr called for an entity that can
take clear actions and produce tangible results that
transcend only conversations and conferences. Gabr expressed
personal distress at the plight of women in many sub-Saharan
African countries, as well as the misperception that Islam is
Middle East Safeguards Resolution
7. Gabr again expressed "shock" at the "lack of U.S. support"
for Egypt's Middle East Safeguards resolution at the IAEA.
(Note: The United States abstained. End Note.) She felt that
Egypt was embarking on a "new phase" and had already shown
"maximum flexibility," and that our perceived lack of support
was "not the way to prepare for the NPT conference." A/S
Brimmer re-iterated support for Egypt's priorities regarding
nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament in the 2010
conference. Gabr said that this resolution is very important
to Egypt's priorities for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle
East, as well as to Egyptian media reactions.
8. Gabr mentioned that food security was an important issue,
particularly as it concerns women in rural societies where
women play such a large role in agricultural production.
Gabr mentioned that the Egyptian First Lady would host a
gathering of First Ladies from the NAM on the margins of the
November food security conference in Rome, consisting of
statements and panel discussions, with the results being
presented to the main plenary meetings.
9. Egypt supported the 2011 review of the Human Rights
Council as a way of improving procedures. On freedom of
expression, Gabr said that the resolution was a good step.
She anticipated being queried on defamation of religion
again, but said that this issue was a matter that "needs
time, is more sensitive, and we will wait to see how it
10. Gabr said that Egypt did not like the UN imposing a
"value system on our society." She cited as an example
"imposing rules regarding sexual orientation." She said that
sexual orientation was a choice with which no one in Egypt
has a problem with, noting that Egypt had no laws
discriminating against homosexuals and that Egypt opposed any
form of discrimination. She said that Egypt condemned
violence against minorities, and stated that the country
imposed the death penalty only for first-degree murder, rape
and kidnapping, and drug-trafficking, but not for
homosexuality. Thus, she said, in dealing with similar
issues, "legal steps are fine, but don't impose values on us.
We do not like people playing games and maneuvering in
documents from the Secretariat."