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Cablegate: Nomination to Send Icelandic Broadcaster On

VZCZCXYZ0023
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRK #0085/01 0871533
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281533Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3216
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0016
RUEHNO/US MISSION NATO BRUSSELS

UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000085

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/NB; SCA/PPD, EUR/PPD, R

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR NATO PGOV PREL OPRC KPAO AF IC
SUBJECT: NOMINATION TO SEND ICELANDIC BROADCASTER ON
US NATO TOUR IN APRIL

REFS: Hodgson emails to Duguid/Pulaski/USNATO and USNATO 00184

1. (SBU) Summary: The Icelandic Government plans to withdraw its
Icelandic Crisis Response Unit (ICRU) from Chaghcharan, northern
Afghanistan in late April, where it has played an essential part in
the region's humanitarian missions since 2004. The withdrawal is
part of a plan by the country's Foreign Minister to 'soften' the
image of the country's peacekeeping unit by replacing some
peacekeepers with development staff. The GOI is greatly influenced
by public opinion, especially in the run-up to national elections
this May. Post believes it is imperative at this time to shore up
Iceland's support of NATO's ongoing mission in Afghanistan. Post is
nominating one of the country's most influential broadcasters to
participate in the upcoming USNATO opinion-maker tour in Brussels
and Washington, D.C. to help explain the importance of NATO's
reconstruction and security assistance mission to Afghanistan. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) The GOI has come under renewed criticism by the opposition
recently for its continued support of U.S. policy in Iraq, and to a
lesser extent, U.S. and NATO policy in Afghanistan. It is essential
to use the USNATO trips to educate Icelandic officials and
journalists on the changing security threats of the 21st century,
including NATO's mission in Afghanistan, and to demonstrate how the
United States will abide by its commitment under the 1951 Defense
Agreement and NATO accords to defend Iceland against external
threats.

3. (SBU) To help explain why Iceland, a founding member of NATO,
should continue to support NATO operations in Afghanistan and other
trouble spots, post strongly recommends the inclusion of Jon Gudni
Kristjansson, a highly-respected senior broadcaster and editor at
Iceland's national broadcasting company, RUV-Radio, on the USNATO
opinion-maker tour to Brussels and Washington, D.C. from April
13-19, 2007.

4. (U) Mr. Kristjansson is one of most experienced journalists in
Iceland and was a print journalist for many years before becoming a
news editor for RUV Radio in 1986. He is an editor/broadcaster for
one of three current affairs programs at RUV Radio called
"Spegillinn" or "The Mirror." The show is the oldest radio program
in Iceland, and probably the most-listened to among the country's
intellectuals. For the past few years, Mr. Kristjansson has focused
his reporting on foreign affairs, especially conflict areas such as
the former Yugoslavia. From 2001 - 2002, Mr. Kristjansson was
assigned to the OSCE mission in Kosovo as a press and media officer.
Before that, Mr. Kristjansson was the first Icelandic journalist to
specialize on reporting on environmental issues. In short, Jon G.
Kristjansson is an educated, experienced and well-respected
journalist.

5. (U) Mr. Kristjansson would appreciate the opportunity to
participate in the USNATO tour to receive first-hand information
about the US and NATO missions in Afghanistan. Iceland has
participated in those efforts for many years now, so the issue is of
great significance and interest to the Icelandic public. Mr.
Kristjansson believes the USNATO trip would deepen his understanding
of the complex situation in Afghanistan, and would give him the
opportunity to obtain on-the-record comments from US and NATO
officials, which he would use in developing stories to send back to
Iceland during his trip.

6. (U) Per USNATO's request (reftel), here is biodata for post's
nominee:
Full name: Jon Gudni Kristjansson
Date and place of birth: November 28, 1949 in Akureyri, Iceland
Citizenship: Icelandic
Passport number: Nominee has applied for a new passport, and expects
to receive it within days; post will supply passport number once it
is issued
E-mail: jongk@ruv.is
Prior US-Government-sponsored travel: None
Prior NATO travel: None
English Comprehension: Excellent

7. (U) RUV Radio was established in 1930. Since its inception, it
has been one of the most trusted media outlets in Iceland and the
channel Icelanders turn to regularly for their news and current
affairs programming. Listening numbers for RUV's radio news are
phenomenal; audience figures for the main news hours rate as high as
40 percent of the population of 300,000.

8. (U) Post appreciates the efforts of the US Mission to NATO in
organizing this important tour for journalists, and for its
assistance in the nomination process.

VAN VOORST

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