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Cablegate: Malaysia and Oic Special Envoy Cumber's Request

VZCZCXRO8345
OO RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHJS RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHKL #0159 0671157
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071157Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0641
INFO RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR IMMEDIATE 0028
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH IMMEDIATE 0065
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KUALA LUMPUR 000159

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR IO/UNP, AF/W AND EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL OIC KISL SG MY
SUBJECT: MALAYSIA AND OIC SPECIAL ENVOY CUMBER'S REQUEST
FOR MEETING AT OIC SUMMIT

REF: STATE 23596

1. (U) We informed the Malaysian Foreign Ministry's OIC
division on March 7 of Special Envoy Cumber's interest in a
meeting with the Malaysian delegation at the OIC Summit in
Dakar. We also provided contact telephone numbers per
reftel. We have copied the same information to Malaysia's
chief OIC diplomat, Ambassador Ibrahim Abdullah, who arrived
in Senegal today. Ambassador Ibrahim's cell phone number is
60-12-334-5957. Ambassador Ibrahim has an excellent command
of English. Post provides background on Malaysia's OIC role
and related policies below.

2. (SBU) OIC Role, Areas for Cooperation: Malaysia has
served as Chairman of the OIC since October 2003. Acting in
this role, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has attempted to
"put an economic face" on the OIC by focusing on economic
development, education, and trade and investment within the
Islamic world. Malaysian has sought to develop an OIC
capacity building program to reduce poverty and has supported
the World Islamic Economic Forum to enhance trade and
investment, often using Malaysia's own economic success as a
reference. Prime Minister Abdullah has leveraged his OIC
chairmanship to bolster his government's goal of
strengthening trade and investment ties with OIC countries;
trade between Malaysia and OIC members reportedly increased
54 percent from 2004 to 2007. Malaysia is most likely to be
receptive to U.S. collaboration in areas related to promoting
advanced technology, educational opportunities, and possibly
Islamic finance.

3. (SBU) Malaysia and Inter-Faith Dialogue: Malaysia
perceives itself as playing "a key role in promoting dialogue
between the West and the Muslim World," according to the
current Malaysian ruling coalition manifesto. Prime Minister
Abdullah promotes the concept of "Islam Hadhari," described
as a model for "progressive Islamic civilization," with an
emphasis on economic and technological advancement. Prime
Minister Abdullah often has engaged in inter-religious
dialogues on the international stage, most recently in
January at the Alliance of Civilizations forum in Madrid. At
home, however, the Malaysian government has struggled with
growing controversies regarding the rights of the country's
40 percent non-Muslim population, and has stopped public
discussion of some inter-faith issues, like the religious
freedom clause in the constitution, perceived as too
sensitive and a threat to national stability.

4. (SBU) Foreign Policy Elements: The Palestine issue has
great resonance among Malaysia's Muslim population, and
features prominently in Malaysia's foreign policy
pronouncements. Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar
took part in the Annapolis Conference, but Malaysia does not
have diplomatic relations with Israel. Malaysia contributes
peacekeepers to UNIFIL. Malaysia has opposed U.S. actions in
Iraq, while some leaders have quietly acknowledged the
importance of the U.S. and NATO role in Afghanistan. Shia
Islam is banned in Malaysia, but the Malaysian public appears
generally sympathetic to Iran in its perceived stand-off with
the West over its nuclear program.
KEITH

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