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Cablegate: Supporting Usgs Activities in Afghanistan

VZCZCXYZ0006
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #1630/01 1351151
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 151151Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8063
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS KABUL 001630

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/FO (BOUCHER, GASTRIGHT), SCA/A
DEPT PASS AID/ANE
DEPT PASS USGS (MEDLIN, MIRZAD)

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: EMIN ECON ENRG PGOV AMGT AF
SUBJECT: Supporting USGS Activities in Afghanistan

Ref: A) State 62343 B) State 61921

This message contains SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED information.
Please protect accordingly.

Action Request - see paras 1 and 7.

1. (SBU) Summary and Action Request: The Embassy has received two
letters from President Karzai's senior staff requesting that a
specific USGS official be appointed Senior Advisor to the Office of
the President. Due to conflict of interest, perceived transparency,
and Chief of Mission authority issues, this proposal is not
acceptable to the Mission. We believe that USGS technical field
teams have been doing excellent work in Afghanistan and their
activities have added important value to the understanding and
potential development of Afghanistan's natural resources sector. We
would like these activities to continue and intensify. There have
been some weaknesses as well. To strengthen USG engagement in
Afghanistan's natural resources sector, the Mission proposes that
the Department of the Interior and USGS consider establishing a
Natural Resources Attache position at Embassy Kabul via the NSDD-38
process, which the Embassy would be favorably inclined to approve.
End Summary and Action Request.

2. (U) The Ambassador received a letter dated April 25 (para 9)
from President Karzai's Chief of Staff, M. Umer Daudzai, reiterating
an earlier request for the detailing of USGS International Program
Specialist and Engineer Geologist Said Hashim Mirzad as Senior
Advisor for Natural Resources to the Office of the President.
Attached to Daudzai's letter was the earlier request -- a January 2
letter (para 10) from then-Chief of Staff Jawed Ludin to
then-Ambassador Neumann requesting Mr. Mirzad's appointment to the
post in the Office of the President. Ludin had asked that the
request for Mr. Mirzad's services be forwarded to the Secretary of
the Interior. Embassy was unaware of the January 2 Ludin letter
until it was received as an attachment to the April 25 Daudzai
letter.

3. (SBU) Mission has given the Daudzai and Ludin requests due
consideration and concluded that the appointment of a serving USG
official to a senior position in the Office of the President of
Afghanistan is not acceptable. Such an appointment would raise
intractable conflict of interest issues for both the USG and the
GOA. The Daudzai and Ludin proposal would also appear to place this
USG official in Kabul outside of Chief of Mission authority, which
would pose serious security as well as institutional difficulties.
The appointment of a serving USG official to a senior policy
position in the Office of the President of Afghanistan might also
raise questions about transparency and undue USG influence among
some GOA officials as well as the international community in Kabul.
Were the USG official to resign from USG service, we would have no
objection to his/her appointment to this position.

4. (SBU) The USG does have a handful of USG officials serving as
technical advisors in the Afghan Ministry of Finance. These
individuals, however, are providing purely technical assistance to
strengthen the work of line agencies of the GOA. The position
proposed by Daudzai and Ludin for Mr. Mirzad would be significantly
different in that he would sit in a GOA office that has a central
policy formulation role rather than a line implementation function.
The USG has strategic, political, and economic/commercial interests
in seeing the Afghan natural resources sector develop. On occasion,
our interests do not coincide with the interests of the GOA and its
officials. In such instances, a USG official also serving as Senior
Advisor to the Afghan President, would be placed in an untenable
conflict of interest situation. For instance, we would like to see
U.S. companies play a leading role in the development of
Afghanistan's natural resources. Currently, a major U.S. company is
bidding on an international tender to develop significant copper
deposits in Afghanistan. The arrangement proposed by Daudzai and
Ludin would complicate our efforts to advocate on behalf of U.S.
companies.

5. (SBU) That said, the Daudzai and Ludin request raises an
important issue about the appropriate USG role in assisting the
development of Afghanistan's natural resources and points to the
need for an enhanced and direct USGS in-country presence. Embassy
believes that Afghanistan's natural resources sector has excellent
potential as an important platform for the medium to long-term
development of the country. Embassy also believes that USGS has
done a superb job at the technical level of supporting the Afghan
natural resources sector as well as U.S. foreign policy interests in
Afghanistan. The geospatial infrastructure assessment (including
the airborne geophysics survey), the earthquake hazards assessment
(including the Kabul seismic station project), the mineral resources
assessment, the coal assessment, water resource assessment, and
several training programs (including Ministerial capacity for
dealing with tenders and contract negotiations) are examples where
USGS expertise and initiative can potentially help reap important
benefits for Afghanistan. Embassy is committed to supporting such
work.

6. (SBU) Where USGS engagement in Afghanistan could do better,
however, is in strengthening coordination with other USG elements
and in integrating USGS activities into a cohesive USG strategy for
the natural resources sector. Embassy and USAID have not received
periodic status reports regarding USGS programs funded by USAID.
Another aspect of the USGS engagement in Afghanistan is the
logistical and administrative support demands, which remain
difficult. The support has been provided by the Afghan
Reconstruction Group at the Embassy but was supposed to have been
taken over by USGS some time ago. On occasion, USGS personnel have
proposed visits directly with PRT teams without anyone in the
Mission being informed. USGS staff have also engaged directly with
GOA Ministries and the Office of the President without keeping the
Mission informed. Last fall, USGS staff prepared a visit for the
Afghan Minister of Mines without coordinating the program with the
Mission or the Department of State until we learned of it from the
Ministry.

7. (SBU) Action Request: To strengthen our engagement in
Afghanistan's natural resources sector, Embassy proposes that the
Department of the Interior and the USGS consider establishing a
permanent presence at Embassy Kabul via the NSDD-38 process, which
we would be favorably inclined to support. The Natural Resource
Attache position we envision would report through the Embassy's
Economic Policy Group to the DCM and would serve as the focal point,
secretariat, coordinator and support for all USG activity in the

SIPDIS
natural resources sector. The incumbent in this position would
advise the DCM and the Ambassador as well as all USG agencies on
matters relating to natural resources. The position would engage
closely with the donor community and GOA agencies on natural
resource issues, providing advice and technical assistance,
assessing capacity needs and seeking resources to address these
needs. The incumbent would provide the necessary status reporting
to USAID for USGS technical field programs funded by USAID. This
position would also coordinate and support all logistical
arrangements for USG visits to Afghanistan that relate to natural
resources.

8. (U) Septels will address Ref A and B requests for country
clearance for the two proposed USGS visits.

9. (U) Text of Chief of Staff Umer Daudzai's Letter to Ambassador
Wood, dated April 25, 2007:

H.E. William Broucher Wood
Ambassador of the United States
Embassy of USA
Kabul

25 April 2007

Excellency Ambassador,

Please find attached a copy of the letter which was signed by my
predecessor regarding appointment of Mr. H. Mirzad as Senior Advisor
to the office of the President on Mines and Natural Resources.

Once again I ask your excellency to convey this request to the U.S.
Secretary of Interior at the earliest opportunity.

SIPDIS

Sincerely,

/s/
M. Umer Daudzai
Chief of Staff to the President
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

End Text of Daudzai Letter.

10. (U) Text of then-Chief of Staff Jawed Ludin's Letter to
then-Ambassador Neumann, dated January 2, 2007:

H.E. Ronald Neumann
Ambassador of the United States to Afghansitan
Embassy of USA
Kabul

2 January 2007

Excellency,

Appointment of Mr. H. Mirzad as Senior Advisor to the Office of the
President on Mines and Natural Resources
I would like to express gratitude towards the service of Mr. Said
Hashim Mirzad, International Programs Specialist and Engineer
Geologist who on behalf of the U.S> Department of Interior and and
the U.S. Geological Survey has provided tremendous assistance to the
Afghan government over the last two years.

As you are aware, in his latest capacity he has served the U.S>
Embassy in Kabul from Feb 2004-Aug 2006 as Senior Natural Resources
Advisor. In this role, Mr. Mirzad acted as a key liaison to
numerous Afghan government ministries and institutions dealing with
the natural resource sector. As an Afghan-American his grasp of the
language, culture and knowledge of the environment has made his
working relationship with such institutions most valuable.

Therefore, I would like to request that Mr. Mirzad's term be
extended in Kabul and further that he serve specifically as Senior
Advisor for Natural Resources to the Office of the President.

As the Afghan government reviews the preliminary results of the
airborne geophysics study that the USGS has completed, we realize
more than ever that Afghanistan has major potential in terms of its
natural resources. Such studies prove our apparent need for the
valuable expertise of highly qualified individuals such as Mr.
Mirzad to support our government at the highest levels.

I would be grateful of you could convey this request to the
Secretary of the Interior at the earliest opportunity. I hope he

SIPDIS
will be able to meet our need.

Sincerely,

/s/
Jawed Ludin
Chief of Staff
Office of the President

End Text of Ludin Letter.

Wood

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