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Cablegate: Arab League Briefing Following September 5

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PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #2769 2551413
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121413Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6859
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS CAIRO 002769

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAL PREF EG SO IS IZ SU XP
SUBJECT: ARAB LEAGUE BRIEFING FOLLOWING SEPTEMBER 5
MINISTERIAL

REF: CAIRO 2730

1. Summary. In a briefing for foreign diplomats on the Arab
League's (AL) annual September 5 ministerial, AL Chief of
Staff Hisham Youssef said that the ministers confirmed their
support for President Bush's proposed international meeting
for Middle East peace and noted their strong desire to reach
a "milestone" before the end of the current U.S.
administration. The AL wants to see a "comprehensive
approach" that does not exclude any "parties, tracks, or
issues," supports the Abbas government, and stands ready to
assist in turning over "institutions and premises" under
Hamas control back to the Palestinian Authority, he said. End
summary.

Peace Process
-------------

2. AL Chief of Staff Hisham Youssef, in a briefing for
foreign diplomats on September 11, reiterated that AL foreign
ministers confirmed their support for President Bush's
proposed meeting for Middle East peace in their September 5
annual ministerial (reftel). Ministers stressed a
comprehensive approach that does not exclude any "parties,
tracks, or issues," calling for Syrian participation and
discussion of the status of Jerusalem and refugees. Youssef
also called for an Israeli moratorium on settlements and
separation barrier construction as a show of good faith. The
Arab Peace Initiative committee is preparing the Arab
position regarding the details of what should occur during
President Bush's proposed international meeting and will meet
with the Quartet on September 23 in New York. AL ministers
also called upon Egypt and Saudi Arabia to continue playing
an active role in the peace process. Youssef stressed that
"we must reach a milestone" before the current U.S.
administration ends its term.

3. On the internal Palestinian issue, Youssef noted the
legitimacy of the Abbas government and stated that the AL
supports a return to the pre-June Hamas take-over of Gaza
"status quo," standing ready to assist in turning over
institutions under Hamas control back to the Palestinian
Authority. However, this does not mean a return to the
Haniya National Unity Government.

Iraq
----

4. The AL established a new fund to assist member countries
to deal with increasing numbers of displaced Iraqis living
within their borders, said Youssef. He noted that Syria
reports a 10 percent increase in its overall population due
to Iraqis fleeing since the start of the Iraq conflict, and
that Iraq itself will donate USD 25 million to the fund.

Lebanon
-------

5. The AL called for the Lebanese presidential election to be
conducted in accordance with the Lebanese constitution, and
for the formation of a National Unity Government.

Sudan and Somalia
-----------------

6. The AL praised United Nations Security Council Resolution
(UNSCR) 1769 and the meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, between
Darfur rebel groups, as positive developments in Sudan, and
continues to call on all factions to sign the Darfur Peace
Agreement. Similarly, the AL ministers called on all
factions to join the reconciliation process in Somalia.
Youssef noted that the AL continues to work closely with the
UN and AU on both these issues.

Expanding Relations Outside the Arab World
------------------------------------------

7. To continue to develop its relationships with non-Arabs,
the AL will convene several summits with African nations and
the EU, said Youssef. With China, the AL expects to hold a
conference on energy as well as a "dialogue of
civilizations." The AL is currently in the process of
developing a framework for a dialogue with Turkey. The AL
noted the importance of the U.S.-AL relationship, and looks
forward to the third Arab-U.S. forum in May 2008 in New York.
RICCIARDONE

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