Cablegate: Talabani Welcomes Ambassador, Discusses Arab
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1157/01 0940922
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 040922Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0536
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
Wednesday, 04 April 2007, 09:22
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001157
EO 12958 DECL: 04/01/2017
TAGS PGOV, PREL, SA, IR, SY, IZ
SUBJECT: TALABANI WELCOMES AMBASSADOR, DISCUSSES ARAB
SUMMIT, BAGHDAD SECURITY, DE-BA’ATH
Classified By: Ambassador Ryan Crocker per 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: The Ambassador met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari March 31 to present his credentials. They discussed Talabani’s trip to Riyadh for the Arab Summit and the side meetings he held with other Arab leaders, including a discussion on Kirkuk and the PKK with Turkish PM Erdogan. Talabani claimed that the Baghdad security initiative was going well and had successfully brought in the Sunnis. He also expressed his willingness to meet with resistance leaders. He said that the Presidency, PM, and SCIRI leader Hakim had approved the compromise draft de-Ba’athification law which he said had been forwarded to the Council of Representatives. Talabani has written a letter to Iran asking for the release of the British sailors but received no response. The President was mentally sharp and growing in strength, although by the end of the meeting he was showing signs of fatigue. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) Talabani welcomed the Ambassador and expressed his conviction that he and Iraq and are real friends of the U.S. He said Iraq and the U.S. were partners in the fight for democracy and against dictatorship. He made apologies for not meeting the Ambassador the day before, blaming his staff of overprotecting him and failing to tell him of the request for a meeting. He said he is prepared to meet with the Ambassador at any time and invited him to a meal in the near future.
3. (C) The Ambassador told Talabani he was glad to be back in Iraq and praised Talabani’s efforts to build a relationship with the U.S. He said he would do everything in his power to support democracy and prosperity in Iraq. He thanked Talabani for his help on a number of important issues, including de-Ba’athification and hydrocarbons. He said the U.S. is here to support Iraqi policy. The FM Zebari echoed this sentiment, saying that the Iraqi people need to understand that these are Iraqi goals.
4. (C) Talabani said he “explained everything” in his speech to the Arab League. He spoke of the liberation of Iraq and how Coalition troops were welcomed by the Iraqi people in 2003, but lamented the passage of UN Resolution 1483. In response to King Abdullah’s negative comments about the US’s “illegal occupation” of Iraq, he thanked coalition forces and called for a resolution condemning terrorist activities. He told the League they cannot be divided, they must all be working for reconciliation. He said Iraq was proud to be independent and did not follow the dictates of countries to the east and north (alluding to Iran and Turkey). He claimed that the Iraqi Shia were independent from Iran and explained to the League that oil is a national asset shared by all Iraqis and difficulties in this area will be worked out.
5. (C) Talabani said in his side meeting with Amr Mousa, Secretary General of the Arab League, he criticized the
SIPDIS exclusion of crimes and terrorism taking place in Iraq in the Secretary General’s report, to which Mousa responded that he
SIPDIS would add it. He said he also had private meetings with the kings of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and with Turkish PM Erdogan, whom he invited to send a delegation to Kirkuk to examine the situation and prove that Turkomen are not being treated poorly. He told Erdogan that Kirkuk is a cultural issue that cannot be decided by strong words from both sides. He expressed bemusement that Erdgoan still thought of him and KRG President Massoud Barzani as tribal chiefs. He told Erdogan that he and the KRG condemn any terrorist activity against Turkey, to which Erdogan responded positively. On the PKK issue he told Erdogan tat currently Iraq had to devote all its resources to securing Baghdad, but he said PKK activity is against the interests of the Kurdish people.
6. (C) He also spoke with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Riyadh and asked him why they had seen no results from their agreement to cooperate on security matters made when Talabani visited in January. He said Assad promised to begin cooperating.
BSP and Sunni Participation
7. (C) According to Talabani, the Baghdad security initiative has been successfully implemented in a way that
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targets not just Sunni areas, but all parts of the city. He said even Iran was cooperating in some ways by directing the Sadrist Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) militia to cease targeting Sunnis. This will reduce sectarian tensions, he said. Iran had also stopped helping Thar-Allah, a Shia militia group in the south, according to Talabani.
8. (C) He said the situation was much better than a few months ago, referencing the PM’s involvement of the Sunnis in the security plan. Talabani said he hoped that the Ambassador’s arrival was another step forward in this regard.
9. (C) He said before his illness he had a discussion with the PM on steps to reach out to Sunni parties within the GOI. They agreed on the need for regular meetings between the Presidency and the PM, as well as regular PCNS meetings. He said the Presidency must also hold regular meetings to coordinate on the issues. He said it was vital for them to be on the same page in the fight against terrorism or at least to use the same language so that they do not send confusing messages to the press and public.
10. (C) Talabani said they are continuing their efforts for national reconciliation and told the Ambassador that the people are forming groups to fight terrorism and cooperating with government forces against the terrorists. He said he has been contacted by members of the national resistance movement and reported that before traveling to Riyadh he met with the UK Ambassador to Iraq and the ranking UK General in Iraq and discussed meeting with members of the resistance.
11. (C) The Ambassador thanked Talabani for his critical role in reconciliation efforts and inquired on the status of the draft de-Ba’athification law. Talabani told him that it had been sent to the Council of Representatives (CoR) for debate and approval (Note: according to Embassy contacts at the CoR they have not yet received it and it is with the Council of Ministers. End Note). Talabani said that the PM had signed the draft law for the government and he had signed in the name of the Presidency because the two Vice-Presidents were out of the country but had given him their approval. He said he announced the law at the Arab Summit where it was received with approval. He also discussed the draft law with SCIRI leader Abdelaziz al-Hakim and Hummam Hammudi, SCIRI CoR member and Foreign Relations Committee Chair, who were with him at the Summit as “houseguests” and who he claimed both approved it.
12. (C) Talabani said he wrote a letter to the president of Iran which called for the release of the British sailors. In it, he told the Iranians that the Shat al-Arab is important and the Brits were trying to prevent smuggling. He dispatched an envoy to deliver the letter but the envoy returned empty-handed - the Iranians want an apology from the United Kingdom. Talabani added that the Iranians were concerned about his health, joking that the one thing that the US and Iran have in common is concern for “the health of Talabani.”
13. (C) Comment: Talabani appeared tired and seemed to have more difficulty than usual speaking English. His staff, probably concerned for his health, had refused to schedule any meetings for March 30. CROCKER