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Cablegate: Australia Considers New Assistance Initiatives for Iraq

VZCZCXYZ0015
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #0014 0021341
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021341Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5085
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0059

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 000014

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958 : N/A
TAGS: EAID EFIN EINV ECON ELAB OFDP PREL SOCI IZ XF XU XB AU ZP ZR
SUBJECT: AUSTRALIA CONSIDERS NEW ASSISTANCE INITIATIVES FOR IRAQ

REF: BAGHDAD 4163

1. (SBU) Summary: Australian Ambassador Innes Brown called on EMIN
December 28 to discuss possible areas where Australia could increase
its economic assistance to Iraq. The Government of Australia (GoA)
has been tasked by PM Rudd to develop new initiatives by the end of
January. Innes Brown said that Australia is not interested in
further contributions to the UN-World Bank led IRFFI. Australia may
be willing to support projects - including co-financing with us or
other bilateral donors -- in the fields of health and agriculture
(particularly dry land agriculture), as well as training in third
countries. End summary.

2. (U) EMIN met December 28 with Australian Ambassador to Iraq Mark
Innes Brown to discuss economic and assistance opportunities in
Iraq. Ambassador Innes Brown said that following his visit to
Baghdad (reftel), Australian PM Rudd had asked the Cabinet to
examine ways for Australia to do more in economic assistance in Iraq
as it withdraws forces. The enhanced assistance plan is to be
completed by the end of January.

3. (SBU) Innes Brown said the GoA had an unhappy experience with
its contributions to IRFFI. Much of the money was chewed up in high
UN system overhead charges and there was little transparency or
recognition of the contributions. Thus a presumption behind the
review is that if Australia does something new for Iraq it will be
either of a bilateral character or co-financed with another donor.


4. (U) Innes Brown suggested that the GoA is most interested in
projects in the fields of health and agriculture, and perhaps some
offshore capacity development training, perhaps focused on the
Council of Representatives (CoR). He said he anticipated that the
GoA would be happy to contribute to "good projects that someone else
manages" as long as there is recognition for Australia.

5. (U) On health, Ambassador Innes Brown was interested in the
possibility of supporting training for basic health care
professionals who would work in primary health centers (the U.S. is
completing a network of 140 PHC's built with IRRF funds). EMIN
noted the U.S. is starting such a project and would arrange for HHS
Attache Himmler to provide more details. Ambassador Innes Brown
seemed most interested in finding a discrete aspect of this program
the Australians could cite as their own, even if managed Qhe U.S.
implementing partner. Specialized training delivered off-shore
might be such a possibility, since the U.S. intends to deliver basic
training in-country.

6. (U) The agriculture sector seemed to offer another possibility.
Australia provides assistance to the International Center for
Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Aleppo, Syria.
Ambassador Innes Brown said that ICARDA is piloting some drought
resistant strains of wheat and barley in Ninewa and Tamim this year.
The GoA may want to support more of this work. Ambassador Innes
Brown said there were no IPR restrictions on the seedlines developed
by ICARDA, as it is Qember of the ConsuQtive Group on
International Agricultural Research. He added that the GoA had
already decided to support 100 one-year long research fellowships
for agricultural scientists in Australia. As Australia also has dry
land agricultural challenges, they think this is a good fit for
Iraq, and similar to other long-term training funded by Australia in
the past.

7. (SBU) Finally, Ambassador Innes Brown said the GoA may be
interested in doing something additional in the field of ministerial
capacity, probably also involving offshore training. The Australian
Embassy has already agreed with CoR Speaker Mashadani to send a CoR
delegation to Canberra in the summer, focused on issues of
federal/state financing. The logic is that since Australia has a
parliamentary system in a federal structure, they have something to
offer here.

8. (U) EMIN tried to interest Ambassador Innes Brown in cooperating
on other ongoing U.S. assistance programs, including small and
medium sized enterprise credit programs, but found little immediate
take-up for those ideas.

CROCKER

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