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Cablegate: Preparation for the Paris Conference On

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #5860 0981812
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 071806Z APR 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHKU/AMEMBASSY KUWAIT IMMEDIATE 0000
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE 0000
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0000
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0000

UNCLAS STATE 035860

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON EFIN KDEM PGOV PREL SA KU QA AE AF
SUBJECT: PREPARATION FOR THE PARIS CONFERENCE ON
AFGHANISTAN

REF: STATE 32155 (NOTAL)

Sensitive but unclassified; please handle accordingly.

1. (U) This is an action request. See paragraph four.

--------
Overview
--------

2. (U) On June 12, France will host and co-chair (along with
the Government of Afghanistan and the UN) a Foreign
Minister-level international conference on Afghanistan in
Paris. We anticipate Foreign Minister Kouchner, UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon, and Afghan Foreign Minister Spanta will
jointly chair, and up to 80 international delegations will be
present. Afghan President Karzai and French President
Sarkozy are also expected to play key roles. Ambassador Kai
Eide, the new Special Representative of the UN
Secretary-General to Afghanistan, will likely use this venue

SIPDIS
to unfold his vision for donor coordination and mobilization
of resources for Afghanistan.

3. (U) Tentatively dubbed by the French as the "Afghanistan
Support Conference," this major international gathering will
focus on two main objectives, one political and one
financial. On the political side, the conference is meant to
renew the international community's support for the
Afghanistan Compact -- the roadmap for Afghanistan's
development signed by the Afghanistan Government and
international partners at the 2006 London Conference. On the
financial side, the conference is intended to help raise new
financial pledges to support the Afghan National Development
Strategy and to support 2009 and 2010 elections. It will
also urge donors to live up to previous, still-unfulfilled
promises of assistance. End overview.

----------
Objectives
----------

4. (SBU) Department requests that action addressees approach
host governments at an appropriate senior level with the
following objectives (Assistant Secretary Boucher will
personally deliver this demarche to the UAE Government when
he visits Abu Dhabi April 15):

-- Emphasize the importance the U.S. places on this
initiative;

-- Urge attendance by senior host nation officials,
preferably at the ministerial level, at the conference and a
commitment to pledge financial support; and

-- Seek initial feedback from host governments on possible
conference attendees when available and intentions regarding
pledging.

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Reporting deadline
------------------

5. (U) Posts should report demarche results to SCA/A, slugged
for Lauren Frese, and to NEA/ARP, no later than Friday, April
26. Embassy Kabul should inform the Afghan Government of the
U.S. effort.

----------
Background
----------

6. (SBU) While the exact amount of the U.S. pledge for
Afghanistan at the conference is still under review, it will
be substantial. We will send more details on U.S. pledging
and the composition of the U.S. delegation in the coming
months, prior to the conference.

7. (SBU) On the financial component, the pledge total must
surpass the $10.5 billion achieved in the 2006 London
Conference for the meeting to be portrayed a success.
Anything lower will be perceived inside and outside the
conference as a waning of the international community's
commitment to Afghanistan. We expect the conference
participants will pledge as much as $12-13 billion.

8. (SBU) The U.S. Government is aiming for significant
increases in contributions from the Gulf states, which would,
in turn, show the insurgents that these states support the
Government of Afghanistan and would contribute to the
international community's long-term investment in
Afghanistan. Particularly, the United States will target
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar, which
are capable of providing much more to this effort than they
have to date. Since 2002, Saudi Arabia has pledged $259
million for Afghan reconstruction, with a financial
contribution of $52 million for construction of the
Kandahar-Herat road. The United Arab Emirates has pledged
roughly $74 million in assistance since 2001, but the exact
amount and nature of its actual disbursement is not clear.
The Emiratis frequently cite higher assistance numbers in
meetings with senior U.S. officials, but follow-up attempts
to determine the scope and types of project assistance cannot
be verified, even with UAE officials. Kuwait has disbursed
nearly $45 million in foreign assistance to Afghanistan since
2001, but says additional aid is dependent on resolving $19
million in Afghan Government arrears on a 1977 loan for a
sugar factory. After years of debate regarding the loan
terms, the Kuwait fund has resubmitted the loan terms under
Highly Indebted Poor Country status that the Government of
Afghanistan and the Paris Club began reviewing in March.
However, while we are encouraging rapid progress, these debt
negotiations are a long process, and Kuwait does not appear
in a hurry to resolve this issue. Since 2001, Qatar has
pledged $21 million, but we do not know of any disbursement
from that country.

9. (SBU) The Gulf states are more likely to provide new
assistance to Afghanistan if the Afghans take the lead in
requesting help. The Gulf states also prefer to focus on
specific projects as opposed to other forms of assistance.
The U.S. Government will recommend that the Afghan Government
identify particular reconstruction projects that will require
donor support. For example, we will work with the Afghans to
encourage Saudi Arabia's current consideration of financing
for construction of the un-built northwest corridor of the
Afghan ring road and request Saudi Arabia to consider it as a
Paris deliverable. The U.S. Government will also propose to
the Afghan Government that it ask Gulf states to consider
contributing to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund and
the 2009 and 2010 elections, or financing for irrigation
construction, the Northern Electric Power System
(specifically, the Kama irrigation/hydro-electric power
project in Nangahar), construction of Afghan roads
(specifically, the Nangarhar Southern Ring Road and the
Herat-Changcharan Road), urban housing, and rehabilitation of
regional airports. Embassy Kabul plans to encourage the
Afghan Government beginning the week of April 6 to engage
before the Paris conference with the governments of Kuwait,
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar to seek pledges
of assistance toward these projects.

10. (SBU) In addition to new financing, it is equally
important to remind the Gulf states who have previously made
promises of financial assistance to accelerate action to
disburse these pledges expeditiously. The Afghan people have
made enormous strides over the previous seven years, but the
stability achieved so far remains fragile in many parts of
the country and is still dependent to a large extent on the
financial generosity and follow-through of the international
community.

----------------
Point of contact
----------------

11. (U) Point of contact in SCA/A is Afghanistan desk officer
Lauren Frese at 202-647-4895 or by classified email.
RICE

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