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Cablegate: Netherlands/Iraq: Dpm Salih Makes Good Impression

VZCZCXRO7142
RR RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHIHL RUEHIK RUEHKUK RUEHLZ
RUEHROV
DE RUEHTC #0095 0321139
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011139Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1009
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0104
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2202
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 4383
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS THE HAGUE 000095

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/WE, EUR/ERA, NEA/I
COMMERCE FOR 4212/USFCS/MAC/EURA/OWE/DCALVERT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ECON PINR NL IZ
SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/IRAQ: DPM SALIH MAKES GOOD IMPRESSION

REF: 07 THE HAGUE 1930

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: MFA Iraq desk officer Dirk Jan Wierenga
told poloff that Deputy PM Salih made a "good impression"
during his visit to the Netherlands January 21-22. Dutch
agreement to a trade mission to northern Iraq later this year
was a highlight of the visit. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Salih saw PM Balkenende and Shell officials on
January 21, and participated in an economic seminar and
Ministry of Economic Affairs meetings on January 22.
According to Wierenga, the most prominent success from the
visit may be a trade mission to northern Iraq later this
year. "Serious companies" are interested in the mission,
whereas last year,s proposed mission to Irbil was canceled.
Reviewing reports of the bilateral, Wierenga said Balkenende
and Salih had a "good meeting," a 30-45 minute "courtesy
call." Salih gave a "professional and sympathetic
impression" and "clearly had warm feelings for the
Netherlands." Salih appeared to be a "rational
decision-maker."

3. (SBU) During the bilateral, Balkenende emphasized the need
for improved security and continuing reconciliation. He
emphasized that the PKK is a terrorist group, and that Iraq
and Turkey should work together to resolve the issues. The
Dutch parliament is concerned about the situation of
minorities in Iraq, and Balkenende urged Salih to improve the
situation. In the future, an open economy would help Iraq.

4. (SBU) Salih noted the presence of a large Kurdish
community in the Netherlands, and thanked the Netherlands for
supporting the liberation of Iraq. Salih invited Balkenende
to visit Baghdad. Regarding security, Salih said the
situation was improving, though Iraq was benefiting from a
cease fire rather than peace. Salih agreed the PKK was a
threat but "completely rejected" the attacks by Turkey.
There is not a military solution to the PKK problem. Iran is
a security concern and a negative influence, but Iraq must
have relations with its neighbor. Iraq is looking for a
long-term security agreement with the United States. On the
political situation, it,s key to involve Sunnis. The
current process is not inclusive. With such a heterogeneous
population, federalism and local authority is key.

5. (SBU) On the economy, Salih sees improvements. Iraq wants
to reach an economic and trade agreement with the EU soon.
Salih hopes for "soft loans" from Italy and Japan. Iraq is
looking also for capacity building for both the private
sector and government in Iraq. It,s possible that Dutch
companies might assist in developing the harbor in Basrah.

6. (U) The Dutch trade relationship with Iraq is highly
varied and centered around oil products. In 2006, the
Netherlands imported 434,000 tons of oil and oil products
from Iraq, down from a five year (2001-2006) high of
2,178,000 tons in 2002. According to official figures, the
Dutch exported no products to Iraq in 2006, after exporting
8,000 tons of oil and oil products in 2005 and 5,000 tons of
non-oil products in 2004.

7. (SBU) Although not one of the Netherlands' 36 official
development assistance partner countries, Iraq receives
significant amounts of Dutch aid. Over the 2006-2007 period,
the GONL provided 3.7 million euros (USD 5.3 million) to the
UN and various NGOs for their operations in Iraq, including
support for internally displaced persons and the medical
sector. The Dutch also supported Iraq indirectly, providing
USD 57.1 million over 2006-2007 to the UN Central Emergency
Response Fund, which allocated USD 9.7 million to the region,
and USD 37.1 million in 2006 to the UN Children's Fund, which
allocated USD 2.2 million to Iraq (see reftel for additional
details). In 2006, the Dutch agreed to forgive 80 percent of
Iraqi debt -- in line with Paris Club terms -- and totaling
256 million euros (USD 366.7 million).
Gallagher

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