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Cablegate: Oic Special Envoy Stresses Collaboration and Development

VZCZCXRO3125
RR RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #0663/01 1711141
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191141Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6948
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0711
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9743
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8507
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2236
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 0385
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 0048
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH 0094
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1354
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 0335

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 000663

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID ECON BG
SUBJECT: OIC SPECIAL ENVOY STRESSES COLLABORATION AND DEVELOPMENT
FOR OIC COUNTRIES

SUMMARY
-----------

1. (U) U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC) Sada Cumber highlighted the need for better
coordination among OIC countries and the importance of economic
development in the Muslim world during a recent visit to Bangladesh.
Cumber visited the OIC-endowed Islamic University of Technology
(IUT), called on government officials and met with civil society
leaders. His Bangladeshi interlocutors embraced his message that
differences between the Muslim world and the United States were the
result of a "clash of ignorance, not a clash of civilizations."

IUT AS A VEHICLE FOR OIC DEVELOPMENT
--------------------------------------

2. (U) The first U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the
Islamic Conference (OIC), Sada Cumber, kicked off his recent
Bangladesh trip by visiting the OIC-endowed Islamic University of
Technology (IUT) located just outside Dhaka. The campus is spacious
and has good infrastructure, but Cumber noted weaknesses in
equipment and materials. In a lively interaction with students and
faculty, Cumber emphasized the importance of access to high-quality
education as a means for Muslim youth to compete in a modern world.

PROPOSED MOU PRESENTED TO GOB OFFICIALS
-----------------------------------------

3. (U) In meetings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the
Ministry of Science and Information and Communications Technology,
Cumber presented a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between
the United States and the OIC that proposes cooperation on education
and scientific and technological development. The Government of
Bangladesh (GOB) officials showed keen interest in the potential for
USG assistance in these areas. Cumber emphasized the MOU and any
funding he might be able to leverage would be directed to the OIC;
he added, however, that OIC-endowed IUT would be an excellent
institution through which to implement some of the MOU's proposals.
He urged GOB officials to advocate for the MOU within the OIC and to
work with the OIC to strengthen IUT. Cumber promised to raise the
issue of IUT's pressing needs with the OIC Secretary General.

4. (SBU) Cumber pressed the MFA hard for recognition of an
independent Kosovo. Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain said
Bangladesh supported Kosovo but needed to coordinate its action with
other key OIC nations. Hossain encouraged Cumber to seek out
Bangladesh's Foreign Affairs Adviser during an upcoming meeting of
OIC foreign ministers in Uganda. Cumber outlined his efforts to
facilitate travel and immigration issues for Muslims in the United
States, including Bangladeshis. He said he was working closely with
the Department of Homeland Security to ensure Muslims were treated
with respect and dignity at U.S. ports of entry.

CUMBER MEETS COMMUNITY RELIGIOUS LEADERS
------------------------------------------

5. (U) Imams from several districts in Bangladesh briefed the
Special Envoy on their participation in USAID's Leaders of Influence
(LOI) program. Through Bangladesh's Imam Training Academy, the LOI
program arranges educational programs to introduce community leaders
to key development priorities, including education, health, women's
empowerment and crisis management. The program also has hosted
exchanges between community leaders in Bangladesh and other
countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. The imams were uniform in
their praise for the program; they urged the Special Envoy to tell
President Bush the USG should expand the program and arrange more
international exchanges, including with Muslim leaders in the United
States.

CIVIL SOCIETY WELCOMES CUMBER'S MESSAGES
------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) At a roundtable at a think tank and at a reception hosted
by the Ambassador, Cumber urged Bangladesh to parlay its reputation
as a moderate and tolerant nation into a leadership role to promote
better understanding between the United States and Muslim nations.
Misunderstandings were the result of a "clash of ignorance, not a
clash of civilizations," Cumber said. Civil society leaders
applauded Cumber's views and welcomed increased engagement between
the USG and the OIC. They expressed frustration that the OIC had
not become the leading multi-national organization it could - and
should - be. They endorsed Cumber's view that the OIC should take a

DHAKA 00000663 002 OF 002


renewed interest in the educational and economic development of
member nations, agreeing the OIC should be a voice for religious
tolerance.

COMMENT
-----------

7. (SBU) Special Envoy Cumber's messages resonated in this moderate
Muslim nation. Cumber's interlocutors were energized by the Special
Envoy's enthusiasm and prospects for U.S. engagement with the OIC.
Numerous civil society leaders expressed interest in continuing
their discussions with Cumber during upcoming visits to Washington.
Embassy Dhaka looks forward to fostering further interaction between
Bangladesh and the Special Envoy.

8. (U) Special Envoy Cumber cleared this cable.

Moriarty

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