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Cablegate: Iran Wants Quiet Discussions with U.S. On Afghan Refugees, Xxxxxxxxxxxx Claims

VZCZCXRO2107
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK
DE RUEHLO #1688/01 1761557
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241557Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9011
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1190

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 001688

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/23/2018
TAGS: PGOV PINF PREL IR UK XF ZP ZR
SUBJECT: IRAN WANTS QUIET DISCUSSIONS WITH U.S. ON AFGHAN REFUGEES, XXXXXXXXXXXX CLAIMS

Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Leslie Tsou for reasons 1.4 b and d 1. (C/NF)

Summary: The Iranian Interior Ministry is searching for a channel to USG authorities to discuss Afghan refugee issues within a UN framework, according to an Iranian UNHCR employee who said he will travel to Dubai soon and requested a working level informational meeting there with IRPO. End Summary.

2. (C/NF) An XXXXXXXXXXXX based in Iran told London Iran Watcher (Poloff) that Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) refugee officials want to meet USG officials as part of a UN delegation, either inside or outside Iran, to discuss possible mechanisms by which Afghan and other refugees can leave Iran for the United States.

Iran Interior Ministry Has Afghan Problem -----------------------------------------

3. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX spoke with Poloff on the margins of XXXXXXXXXXXX. (Bio note: According to his business card, XXXXXXXXXXXX. End note.)

4. (C/NF) The IRI has a long-standing public position against meeting with any UN refugee delegation that included USG representatives, XXXXXXXXXXXX said. Nonetheless, IRI officials with refugee responsibilities are under increasing pressure to address Iran's enormous Afghan refugee problem effectively, and are therefore looking for a face-saving way around their own government's hard-line rhetoric. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that there had in the past been abortive attempts to raise the matter with USG officials at UN offices in Geneva, but had no details. He said the Iranian officials he was referring to XXXXXXXXXXXX.

Officials Reportedly Disavow Anti-U.S. Line -------------------------------------------

5. (C/NF) Referring to what he called a dire Iranian need for UN officials to visit Iran to plan for processing of Afghan refugees there, XXXXXXXXXXXX told Poloff that XXXXXXXXXXXX and other XXXXXXXXXXXX officials have in conversations with him over many months privately and emphatically contradicted their own long-standing public stance against the inclusion of USG reps in any UN delegation which might visit Iran or the UAE to discuss Afghan refugees. These officials acknowledge Iran has painted itself into a rhetorical corner with its hard public line, and hope the USG, in effect, can find a creative way to help the XXXXXXXXXXXX save face so as to be able to engage, in a UN framework, on what XXXXXXXXXXXX described as "shared equities and humanitarian concerns" on Afghan refugees in Iran. XXXXXXXXXXXX Staffer Seeks a Meeting ----------------------------------

6. (C/NF) Poloff commented that Iran's immediate equities with respect to the refugee population Iran now hosts are considerably heavier than USG's direct equities and that Iran had during the past winter unilaterally forced some refugees back into Afghanistan under inhumane circumstances. Poloff added that Iran's own regional behavior, and its defiance of the international community on its nuclear program, constitute the largest barriers to constructive engagement on a range of regional issues badly in need of attention. XXXXXXXXXXXX affably agreed, but said he hoped the USG would be willing, "without reference to larger security concerns," to exchange information with the Tehran XXXXXXXXXXXX office with a view to addressing "common humanitarian concerns." XXXXXXXXXXXX said he would be traveling to XXXXXXXXXXXX and would like at that time to have an informational meeting with XXXXXXXXXXXX officials about his concerns if feasible.

7. (C/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX. Poloff told XXXXXXXXXXXX he would forward XXXXXXXXXXXX's contact info to Washington and IRPO officials, but could make no commitments.

Comment ------- LONDON 00001688 002 OF 002

8. (C/NF) Poloff's fortuitous presence at the XXXXXXXXXXXX event, and the circumstances of the encounter on the margins afterward, make it improbable that XXXXXXXXXXXX approach was pre-planned. Whether any follow-up by other USG reps with XXXXXXXXXXXX proves feasible or desirable, his claim that XXXXXXXXXXXX refugee officials are dissatisfied with the XXXXXXXXXXXX's current rhetoric and policy on Afghan refugees appears plausible. End comment. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX TUTTLE

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