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Cablegate: Libya's Central Bank Governor On Iran Banking Mou

VZCZCXRO7112
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHTRO #0231 0771708
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O P 171708Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3248
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 1046
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS PRIORITY 0464
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0641
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0592
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 0059
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 3737

C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000231

SIPDIS SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG AND INR E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/16/2018

TAGS: KTFN EFIN ECIN PGOV PREL PINR LY IR

SUBJECT: LIBYA'S CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR ON IRAN BANKING MOU REF: TRIPOLI 0012

CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, Embassy Tripoli, Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(C) During a March 11 meeting with Farhat Bengadara, Governor of Libya's Central Bank, the CDA asked about press reports that Libya had signed a number of financial and economic agreements with Iran in December 2007 during the visit of Iranian First Vice President Davoudi to Tripoli (reftel). CDA noted in particular an MOU that the Libyan press had described as providing for "a framework for cooperation between the central banks of Libya and Iran" and asked how it was being implemented.

2.(C) Apparently sensing underlying concerns behind the CDA's question, Bengadara downplayed the significance of the MOU. Characterizing the MOU's language as "very standard", he stressed that the agreement lacked "substance or specifics" and did not mandate significant commitments from either party. Libya was "very careful" in its nascent engagement with Iran, and was not inclined to accelerate or deepen cooperation with Iran on banking or investment beyond the limited MOU's and agreements signed during Davoudi's visit. (Note: Previous reports suggested Iran was pressuring the GOL to sign more formal agreements and treaties on investment and trade immediately after Davoudi's visit. End note.) The U.S. "should not worry" about the the MOU, which did not provide for or extend to activities that would cause concern.

3.(C) Comment: Bengadara was keen to emphasize that the December 2007 MOU was more form than substance, a position at odds with what the Iranian DCM here has reportedly conveyed to other Tripoli-based diplomats. Given Libya's strained relations with Iran over Lebanon, its desire to improve relations with the United States and EU countries, we expect the GOL to move cautiously in its responding to Iranian overtures. End comment.
STEVENS

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