Cablegate: Embassy Dhaka Welcomes Oic Special Envoy Cumber
DE RUEHKA #0565/01 1490629
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280629Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6802
INFO RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0324
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0252
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2189
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0661
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9694
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8460
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 0333
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1308
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 000565
FOR SPECIAL ENVOY CUMBER FROM AMBASSADOR MORIARTY
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL OVIP PGOV EAID ECON BG
SUBJECT: EMBASSY DHAKA WELCOMES OIC SPECIAL ENVOY CUMBER
1. (SBU) As a large moderate Muslim majority nation whose citizens
highly value democracy, Bangladesh is a key USG friend in the
Islamic world and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Bangladesh has been active in multilateral fora including SAARC and
the UN, where it has been a leading contributor of troops for
Peacekeeping Operations around the world. Your visit will provide an
opportunity to try to shape Bangladesh's efforts within the OIC and
to convey USG perspectives on the three pillars of the
U.S.-Bangladesh relationship: democracy, development and denial of
space to terrorists. On behalf of the U.S. Mission in Dhaka, I am
pleased to welcome you to Bangladesh. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Throughout its 37-year history, Bangladesh has been a
proud and active member of the OIC. Member nations have viewed
Bangladesh as an honest broker on issues that often divide OIC
members, including the Iran-Iraq war and Israel-Palestine issues.
In your meetings with top leaders in the Caretaker Government, you
should seek their views on ways to promote dialogue between the
United States and the OIC. You should also encourage the CTG to
adhere to its elections roadmap and continue its ongoing dialogue
with political parties.
3. (SBU) The first pillar of our relationship with Bangladesh is
democracy promotion. While an unelected Caretaker Government (CTG)
currently runs Bangladesh during a State of Emergency imposed in
January 2007, the CTG remains committed to holding national
elections by the end of 2008; the Chief Adviser recently announced
elections would take place the third week of December. The
Caretaker Government is implementing a massive voter registration
project that has drawn praise from its citizens and international
experts. This is one of the important reforms that the Government
has introduced to build a stronger foundation for Bangladesh's young
democracy. The CTG also has begun a dialogue with political parties
aimed at ensuring a smooth transition back to democratic government.
This dialogue will be underway during your visit.
4. (SBU) The USG has a robust assistance program in Bangladesh that
targets food security, economic growth, education, health and
nutrition, disaster management, democracy and governance. We
project that USG food and development assistance to Bangladesh will
reach USD 150 million in FY2008. While not the largest bilateral
donor, the United States plays a leadership role among Bangladesh's
development partners in areas such as democracy and governance,
disaster preparedness and response, food aid, and avian influenza
preparedness and response. The U.S. has provided over $5 billion
in bilateral assistance since Bangladesh's independence. The U.S.
led the international community's response to the devastation caused
by Cyclone Sidr in November 2007. Along with the assistance from
bilateral donors and multilateral aid agencies, non governmental
organizations also played a major role in responding to the cyclone.
Individuals and groups associated with leading Islamic countries
also provided a great deal of aid, but in a less than fully
5. (SBU) While in Bangladesh you will have an opportunity to meet
with participants in our Leaders of Influence program, which is
funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
This program aims to promote development themes as well as the value
of tolerance to religious and community leaders. We educate
participating leaders on the conditions needed to achieve
sustainable development, including health, education, economic
growth, women's empowerment and crisis management. The leaders in
the program have participated in exchanges with religious and
community leaders from other nations, including OIC members and the
6. (SBU) Bangladesh is home to the OIC-endowed Islamic University
of Technology (IUT). The university offers degrees in engineering,
technology and technical education; though its students come from
many nations, the majority are Bangladeshi. You will meet with
representatives of IUT's students and faculty, all of whom are male.
You will have an opportunity to discuss U.S. cooperation with the
OIC in the areas of science and technology, education, and the
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advancement of women.
DENIAL OF SPACE TO TERRORISTS
7. (SBU) Bangladeshis are immensely proud of their Bengali language
and culture. At the time of Bangladesh's independence in 1971,
those who saw Islam as the primary source of identity opposed those
who fought for a secular state. In particular, religiously based
political parties who supported Pakistan in 1971 were largely
discredited and often branded as collaborators or war criminals.
This stigma continues to the present day, and in part as a result of
these traditions, more extreme forms of Islam have only a small
foothold in Bangladesh. We continue to promote democracy and
development as a means of strengthening Bangladesh's traditions of
tolerance and moderation. We have actively reached out to the
Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh's largest Islamic-based political party.
We have sought to encourage moderate voices within Islam, including
within the Islamic political parties. We have an active program of
outreach to madrassas and other faith-based organizations. We
sponsored a visit to Bangladesh by a Bangladeshi-American U.S. Navy
chaplain earlier this year. Your visit will be an opportunity to
underscore these themes, as well as seek Bangladesh's views on ways
to promote dialogue between Muslim communities and the United
8. (U) Bangladesh is currently at a crossroads as it seeks to
restore democracy, ensure greater prosperity for its citizens, and
rejoin the community of nations. It is in the U.S. interest to
support Bangladesh's political transition and encourage it to play a
responsible role in international organizations such as the OIC. We
also hope that Bangladesh will join us on issues such as Kosovo's
independence, and your advocacy on this will reinforce our efforts.
Finally, from a public diplomacy standpoint, your visit is ideally
timed to underscore our message of respect for Islam and a desire to
reach out to the Islamic world. We look forward to your visit.