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Cablegate: Comoran President Visits Iran

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OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHAN #0443 1721014
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201014Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANTANANARIVO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1389
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
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RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
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UNCLAS ANTANANARIVO 000443

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT FOR AF/E, AF/FO, AND DS/IP/AF
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER
PRETORIA FOR POLCOUNS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL EAID IR CN
SUBJECT: COMORAN PRESIDENT VISITS IRAN

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On June 14, Union of the Comoros President Ahmed
Abdallah Sambi and a high-ranking political and economic Comoran
delegation arrived in Tehran for a three-day visit that included
meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader
Ayatollah Khamenei, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and a visit
to the holy city of Mashhad. Iranian and Comoran officials
reportedly signed two letters of understanding and one agreement on
Tehran's assistance to Moroni in different development projects.
Comoran Minister of Foreign Affairs Jaffar conveyed to Embassy
Antananarivo that the Comoros continues to support the USG position
on Iran's nuclear program and that President Sambi's visit had
nothing to do with this issue. END SUMMARY.

STRENGTHENING COMOROS-IRAN BILATERAL TIES
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (U) President Sambi's meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad was preceded by an official welcome ceremony where the
two countries' national anthems were played and the two presidents
reviewed the guard of honor. Subsequently, they met privately to
discuss strengthened bilateral ties in all fields. Sambi reportedly
requested Iran's experience for his country's development and
progress. Media reports quote Ahmadinejad as saying, "The Islamic
Republic of Iran sets no limits to the transfer of its experiences
or workforce to Comoros," whether in the political, economic,
agricultural or educational fields. Iranian and Comoran officials
reportedly signed two letters of understanding and one agreement on
Tehran's assistance to Moroni in different development projects.
Speaking to reporters, President Sambi referred to his visit to Iran
as "positive" and "successful."

RECEIVES WARNING MUSLIMS MUST UNITE DESPITE THE "ENEMY"
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3. (U) According to media reports, in a meeting on June 16, Supreme
Leader Khamenei told President Sambi that Muslims should put aside
their geographical, racial and religious difference and take
practical measures to secure a permanent seat at the UN council.
Khamenei called on Islamic countries to forge unity against the
"enemies" and take "practical" steps for realizing their wishes. He
said, "Islamic Ummah is in dire need of unity; unity and cooperation
among world Muslims will bring them more strength ... However,
imperial powers are apposed to such an achievement in the world of
Islam." Referring to Iran's nuclear developments, Khamenei said,
"The enemies of Islam are well aware that Iran's nuclear program is
peaceful, however, they spare no efforts to halt the program, for
they consider the Iranian nation's move an upward step." He also
said, "The enemies have employed all means to sow the seed of
discord among Muslims by creating disputes between Shiites and
Sunnis ... Unfortunately, some of the politicians, intellectuals and
Ulema in Islamic countries have been caught in the trap." In
return, President Sambi reportedly expressed satisfaction with the
meeting and called for expansion of bilateral relations. Sambi
again urged the need for his country to benefit from the invaluable
experiences of Iranian experts for its development, saying, "Comoros
needs the views of Iranian experts to implement developmental
projects."

COMOROS STILL BACKS USG ON IRAN'S NUCLEAR ISSUES
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4. (SBU) Embassy Antananarivo contacted the Government of the Union
of the Comoros several times to receive clarification on President
Sambi's visit. Through staff contacts, Comoran Minister of Foreign
Affairs Jaffar conveyed to the Embassy that the Comoran Government
does not support Iran's nuclear program, asserting that President
Sambi's visit to Iran had nothing to do with this issue. Jaffar
emphasized that the Comoran government will always support its key
partners such as the U.S. and the League of Arab States, who are
resolutely against Iran's nuclear program.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: While Sambi's visit to Tehran certainly raises a
red flag, Post notes that President Sambi seemed to be using the
same talking points he regularly uses with the United States and all
major partners -- a request for greater economic and development
assistance to pull his country out of desperate poverty. Throughout
his discussions with Post over the last several years, President
Sambi and his government have repeatedly emphasized that they seek
expanded partnership and development assistance from partners around
the world, including the Middle East, but with "no strings
attached." That said, it appears likely that Iran will expect - at
a minimum - Comoran support for its positions in international fora.
Sambi's ability to maintain a degree of independence may well
depend on what alternative sources of development assistance are
available to him. END COMMENT.

MARQUARDT

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