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Cablegate: Dusd Brinkley Visits Karbala

VZCZCXRO9171
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHIHL #0158 3220501
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180501Z NOV 07
FM REO HILLAH
TO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0878
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0992
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH 1056

UNCLAS HILLAH 000158

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL IZ
SUBJECT: DUSD BRINKLEY VISITS KARBALA

1. Sensitive but unclassified. This is a PRT Karbala cable.

2. (SBU) Summary: DUSD Brinkley and his delegation, GOI
spokesman Ali al Dubbagh, and PRT Leader were warmly received by
Governor Aqeel for a five hour visit that was covered
extensively by local media, and included lunch and a visit to
several agribusiness sites in the green zone around Karbala.
DUSD Brinkley offered a grant of USD one million worth of
polythene wrap and clips to Karbala's DG of Agriculture for the
construction of covered growing houses, and over a longer term
offered to look into the possibility of cooperating to support
the revival of a poultry plant, and link up potential investors
and agricultural experts with Karbala agbusinesses via DVC. End
Summary

2. (U) Karbala Governor Aqeel warmly welcomed and accompanied
DUSD Paul Brinkley and his delegation, Karbala native and GOI
spokesman Ali al-Dubbagh, and PRT leader to Karbala on November
15 and accompanied the group on its five hour visit to Karbala.
After a warm reception at the Governorate compound, the
delegation proceeded to tour the greenbelt, a seven by fourteen
kilometer project on the desert side of Karbala where thousands
of eucalyptus trees have been planted. Karbala Agricultural DG
Al-Her noted that the project, which needed 53 wells, and one
thousand workers, was sixty percent completed. The DG described
the challenges that agriculture faces in Karbala, including lack
of cold storage, the need for a polythene plant so the farmers
could build covered growing houses, and the lack of agricultural
tariffs, which meant that cheap agricultural imports from Iran
made it impossible for farmers to grow many crops profitably.
Al Her noted that Karbala was rich in date production, and over
100,000 people depend on date farming for a living. However,
production only covers fifteen percent of demand so there was
little product left over to develop an export business. He
added that there was there were now no pesticide spray
facilities, that seed tissue culture was was below
California/Gulf levels, and that the water available for
agriculture in Karbala had a high salt content. U.S. date
yields from comparable fields were three-and-a-half times
Karbala yields.

3. (U) DUSD offered the Karbala Agricultural DG a USD one
million grant of polythene wrap that he will be able to
distribute to Karbala farmers, which should enable farmers to
increase yields of crops dramatically. He also agreed to look
into working to assist a poultry farm the group visited. DUSD
Brinkley also promised to facilitate communication between
American agricultural investors and experts and Karbala's
farmers and the agricultural DG (Note: we will do this at the
Regional Embassy Office in Al Hillah by DVC as a first step to
see where the conversation leads.)

4. (SBU) DUSD Brinkley's visit was accorded media coverage
throughout the day. For this reason alone, the visit was highly
successful. In a PIC province where the PRTs had little access
until two months back, the subliminal media message from Karbala
government is that American groups are welcome to come to
participate in the business of reconstruction and develop
business ties.

SIMMONS

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