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Cablegate: Respected Finnish Ngo Hosts Second Iraq

VZCZCXRO7422
RR RUEHBW
DE RUEHHE #0197 1281248
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 071248Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4297
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0058
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 0098
RUEHBL/AMCONSUL BELFAST 0009
RUEHSA/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 0008

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000197

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM IZ FI
SUBJECT: RESPECTED FINNISH NGO HOSTS SECOND IRAQ
RECONCILIATION SEMINAR

Classified By: PolChief Greg Thome for reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)

1. (SBU) The Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a respected
Finnish NGO headed by former President (and UN Special Envoy
for Kosovo) Martti Ahtisaari, hosted a second reconciliation
seminar in Finland for senior Iraqi political leaders April
24-27. The first occurred in Sept. 2007. Aimed at
establishing a dialogue that will advance political and
social compromise among various factions in Iraq, the seminar
included 36 leading Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish officials from
nearly all major political parties, as well as from the
&Awakening Councils.8 Facilitators from Northern Ireland
and South Africa also participated, as they did in September.
Co-sponsored by Tufts University and the University of
Massachusetts, the CMI seminar was again held secretly at an
undisclosed location in Helsinki, per the participants,
request, and very little information has been made available
to the press. The GoF did not participate directly in the
discussions, but did put up more than half the funding for
the conference. MFA officials observed some of the sessions,
and they offered the Embassy the following read-out.

&THE KEY PARTICIPANT8 MISSING
-----------------------------
2. (C) MFA officials and conference organizers were generally
pleased with the substance and the overall participation. Of
the 36 leaders prsent, nearly all were members of parliament
and/o cabinet-level officials, or senior figures withinthe
&Awakening Councils.8 Ten members of the Costitutional
Revision Committee attended, includig Chairman Sheikh
Hammoudi, as well as several members of the Iraqi
Parlament,s Foreign Affais Committee (FAC). Other seior
figures included Minister for Dialogue and Reconciliation
Akram Al-Hakim; Kurdistan Patriotic Union Leader Fouad
Massoom; Dawa Party Leader Ali Adeeb; and Iraqi Islamic Party
leader Osama al-Tikriti. Kurdish leaders, who did not
participate in September, were also well represented, as were
the &Awakening Councils,8 which sent leaders from Baghdad,
Andar and Diyala provinces.

3. (C) Organizers were disappointed, however, that no
representative of the Sadrist block attended. According to
one MFA observer, the seminar focused most heavily on seeking
ways to reduce the ongoing violence in Baghdad. It became
clear that, for a variety of reasons, bridging the internal
divides that exist within the Baghdad Shiite and Sunni
communities -- rather than between Shiites and Sunnis -- has
become crucial. Therefore, the intra-group dialogue,
particularly among the Shiites, suffered without anyone who
could represent Sadr,s factions.

RESULTS AND NEXT STEPS
----------------------
4. (C) Organizers and MFA contacts confirmed that all in
attendance appeared to have the authority to speak on behalf
of their parties or groups, and that the spirit of the
dialogue was indeed positive. Many participants have been
engaging in &a lot of hard work8 over the past two years to
identify creative avenues for reconciliation, one observer
noted, and their shared commitment to that goal -- as well as
their levels of respect for one another -- was evident. The
participants agreed that the two Helsinki sessions have
allowed them to make progress, but many underscored that now
was the time to begin achieving more concrete results on the
ground in Iraq. With this in mind, they proposed to host the
next seminar in July or August in Baghdad; Finnish, Northern
Irish and South African participation will continue, along
with the possible addition of United Nations representatives.
A preliminary declaration of conference outcomes was also
apparently drafted, but will not likely be released as
consensus was not reached on the final wording before the
participants departed Finland. On a separate track, members
of the Iraqi Parliament,s FAC proposed establishing a
contact group or other form of dialogue with their Finnish
counterparts, and the MFA will seek to facilitate this
initiative.

HYATT

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