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09USUNNEWYORK124 2009-02-12 14:36:00 CONFIDENTIAL USUN New York
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR RICE MEETS GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT

Tags:   PREL KWBG EFIN UNGA KGHG KPAL PINR 
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1. (C) During an introductory call on General Assembly
President (PGA) Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann on February 11,
Ambassador Rice underscored U.S. priorities for renewed
engagement with the United Nations, but cautioned the PGA
against divisive actions. D'Escoto expressed his strong
enthusiasm for the new U.S. administration and hoped
President Obama would consider attending a June high-level GA
conference on the financial crisis, at which time he could
possibly also attend a mini-climate change summit proposed by
the Secretary-General. D'Escoto revealed that he has been
approached about serving as a channel of communication for
Hamas to key players, but listened intently to the
Ambassador's arguments against that. End summary.



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Renewed Engagement, Inviting POTUS


--------------------------





2. (C) The PGA conducted his 50-minute, February 11
introductory meeting with Ambassador Rice one-on-one,
expressing his joy over President Obama's election and what
it portends for the community of nations. He repeated that
the world could not succeed without a positive role by the
U.S., and vowed that we all must "come together" in this
"Year of Reconciliation." Noting that he had already issued
an invitation last November for the President to address the
General Assembly, d'Escoto urged that such a visit be timed
to coincide with the high-level conference on the world
financial and economic crisis that the PGA is organizing for
early June. D'Escoto added that Secretary-General (SYG) Ban
could also use that visit for arranging the "mini-summit" on
climate change that the SYG has been hoping to organize in
March or April, but which in d'Escoto's view is now unlikely
to happen. (Note: The PGA and SYG held a coordination
meeting earlier in the day, according to d'Escoto's staff,
but it is unlikely the SYG has endorsed the PGA's vision for
such a combined visit. End note.) Ambassador Rice noted
that President Obama's calendar is highly crowded.



3. (U) Noting the PGA's ambitious plans for the high-level
financial crisis conference in June, Ambassador Rice
cautioned that the conference must not overlap and complicate
the various other international initiatives and fora
addressing the crisis. She argued that the PGA's event
should focus specifically on the crisis' impact on
development, as indeed was decided by member states at last
December's Financing for Development Conference in Doha. At
this point, d'Escoto ushered in his nephew and "Senior
Advisor" Michael Clark, who assured the Ambassador that he
was coordinating closely with the IMF, World Bank, and UK
Prime Minister (and G-20 host) Gordon Brown's office to
ensure the GA process was not working at cross-purposes.



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A Channel for Hamas?


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4. (C) D'Escoto confided that he had questioned Palestinian
President Abbas six weeks ago on his contacts with Hamas,
with Abbas replying that Hamas had rejected his overtures.
While Egypt was already serving as the communication channel
for Hamas, the PGA claimed that Abbas suggested d'Escoto also
consider serving as a channel. D'Escoto's friend and
confidante Ramsey Clark then returned from a visit to Lebanon
and Jordan bearing the contact information for Hamas
representatives in those countries. But d'Escoto said he had
as yet taken no action, in part because of the Israeli
elections, and in part because he was uncertain of using any
Hamas contacts not located in Gaza. Ambassador Rice urged
caution, reminding d'Escoto that the UN is a member of the
Quartet and has set pre-conditions for dealing with Hamas,
and that the PGA is a representative of the UN. D'Escoto
claimed it had not occurred to him that he would be seen as a
UN representative, and underscored his agreement with the
Quartet's preconditions. He also claimed to be wounded by
various accusations that he is anti-Israeli, and pledged his
recognition of Israel's right to exist.



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Surprised to Still Be Alive


--------------------------





5. (SBU) The PGA recounted his various health problems and
admitted that he did not expect, upon assuming the GA
Presidency in September, that he would survive his 1-year

USUN NEW Y 00000124 002 OF 002


term. But he told the Ambassador that he feels renewed
strength and is confident of completing his term. He
enthusiastically accepted an offer to receive a copy of
President Obama's book "Dreams From My Father," and noted
that he had met the previous day with progressive U.S.
evangelist and founder of Sojourners, Jim Wallis. D'Escoto
repeated the list of his personal heroes, including Martin
Luther King, Jr., Leo Tolstoy, Gandhi, and 20th Century
Catholic social activist Dorothy Day.
Rice