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Cablegate: Special Envoy Cumber's Istanbul Visit with Oic Syg

VZCZCXRO7688
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHIT #0459/01 2380908
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 250908Z AUG 08
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8420
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7890
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR PRIORITY 0014
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0086
RUEHBD/AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN PRIORITY 0001
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 0017
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 000459

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL OIC PGOV PHUM TU
SUBJECT: SPECIAL ENVOY CUMBER'S ISTANBUL VISIT WITH OIC SYG

REF: ANKARA 1113

ISTANBUL 00000459 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: Presidential Special Envoy Cumber
underscored the need for OIC and USG interaction and
cooperation prior to international gatherings during his
August 22 meetings in Istanbul with OIC Secretary General
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu and members of the Turkish media.
During their meeting at the OIC office, S/E Cumber and SYG
Ihsanoglu discussed projects to enhance the status of women,
the recognition of Kosovo, coordinating efforts for the
upcoming Religious Defamation Convention, improving media
relations, and combating extremism. At lunch with prominent
members of the Turkish media, S/E Cumber and SYG Ihsanoglu
discussed the USG's relationship with the Muslim world and
positive developments with regard to the Department of
Homeland Security's processing of applicants for permanent
residency.

Meeting with OIC Secretary General Ihsanoglu
--------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Meeting for the fourth time with OIC Secretary
General Ihsanoglu and his advisor Ufuk Gokcen, S/E Cumber
discussed the broader relationship between the USG and OIC.
SYG Ihsanoglu agreed with the overall objective of USG
cooperative efforts with the OIC to enhance the status of
women, but felt that the health initiative would require
pilot projects and asked how the US and OIC would provide
assistance. Instead of implementing a project in five to ten
countries, he suggested the project begin in one or two
countries and then expand to additional countries. S/E
Cumber suggested distributing malaria nets through the OIC,
and both agreed to move the enhancement of the status of
women to the top of a long list of objectives.

3. (SBU) S/E Cumber said that Kosovo recognition remained at
the forefront of his agenda, and requested that SYG Ihsanoglu
take up this cause within the OIC. In light of the recent
situation with Georgia and South Ossetia, SYG Ihsanoglu
stressed that OIC recognition of Kosovo would be even more
difficult. The Egyptians are concerned that the recognition
of Kosovo will create a legal precedent with which they would
prefer not to be associated for fear of a domino effect. S/E
Cumber said that because of the Georgian situation, he sees a
greater need for SYG Ihsanoglu's leadership, especially in
convincing Saudi Arabia to make a positive statement. SYG
Ihsanoglu recognizes the need and supports the idea, but sees
significant challenges in the process. Both agreed that S/E
Cumber should suggest that Secretary Rice include OIC
recognition of Kosovo on her agenda for the UN General
Assembly in September.

4. (SBU) Turning to the OIC's upcoming meeting about the
European Human Rights Commission's resolution on the
Defamation of Religion in Geneva, S/E Cumber suggested that
the USG and OIC develop a process for sharing position papers
prior to meeting about the topic. SYG Ihsanoglu confirmed
that reaching an understanding would be helpful and explained
that he wants a unanimous agreement in Geneva that includes
mention of other religions. S/E Cumber suggested such an
agreement might be possible if, prior to the meeting in the
first week of September the OIC and DRL engage in a dialogue
in which "they are not in a room where they are on opposite
sides." SYG Ihsanoglu agreed this would be helpful, and
requested that the details of such a meeting be clarified as
soon as possible. He defined defamation as the denigration of
values and symbols of religion, pointing to the caricatures
of the Prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper, as
well as the desecration of Muslim tombs in Europe. All of
these occurrences reminded him of anti-Semitism in the 1930s.

5. (SBU) SYG Ihsanoglu stressed the need for an enhanced
focus on media ethics and means of successfully mitigating
the impact of "islamophic" individuals such as Dutch MP
Wilders. S/E Cumber concurred, commenting on the U.S. Muslim
community's poor job of developing positive public relations
in the United States and the need for intrafaith dialogue to
unify the voice of the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. He
further suggested that the OIC should redirect its resources
to develop a campaign of unified responsiveness that will
have an impact at the grassroots level.

6. (SBU) SYG Ihsanoglu appreciated and supported S/E Cumber's

ISTANBUL 00000459 002.2 OF 002


recommendations in preparation for the 63rd session of the UN
General Assembly in New York: expedited clearance for the
members of the OIC delegation; a meeting with SYG Ihsanoglu
and Secretary Rice in New York, followed by an Iftar dinner
hosted by Secretary Rice for all Foreign Ministers and
Ambassadors; and a visit by SYG Ihsanoglu with President Bush
in the White House to speak to America.

7. (SBU) Both S/E Cumber and SYG Ihsanoglu highlighted the
need to work out issues with Pakistan and Egypt as the two
countries continue to communicate as if the OIC were a bloc
of states rather than an organization. In this vein, S/E
Cumber presented the need to combat Wahabism and extremism,
pointing to what he termed a "disturbing" rightward shift
among Muslim countries. He noted that "pluralistic Muslim
societies are getting marginalized by a narrow band of
isolationism and Wahabism" in the practice of Islam. In
agreement, SYG Ihsanoglu regretted that there is no longer a
competing ideology like communism, leaving religion to
"become the opium for young people now."

8. (SBU) SYG Ihsanoglu strongly praised S/E Cumber's work
over the past five months and emphasized while speaking to
the control officer the OIC's desire for him to continue
after the USG change of administration.

Lunch with the SYG Ihsanoglu and Newspaper Editors
--------------------------------------------- -----

9. (U) The office of the OIC offered S/E Cumber an
opportunity to speak with the editors-in-chief of NTV News
Mete Cubukcu; Milliyet Foreign News Editor in Cheif Kadri
Gursel; and the director general of Cihan News Agency
Abdulhamit Bilici during an intimate lunch with SYG
Ihsanoglu. S/E Cumber addressed many of the topics earlier
discussed with SYG Ihsanoglu, including the Muslim
community's need to engage in intrafaith dialogue and improve
public relations with the rest of the world.

10. (U) S/E Cumber also took this opportunity to introduce
the work of DHS and the Office of the Special Envoy to the
OIC to combat prejudices in the United States. Secretary of
Homeland Security Michael Chertoff visited several domestic
airports with high international traffic to distribute
information on interaction with the traveling public.
Additionally, Cumber explained in three to four months, DHS
will send permanent resident cards (green cards) to those
applicants with Muslim names who have waited for at times up
to four years. According to Cumber, DHS intends to issue a
grean card if it receives no response from other agencies
before a thirty day window of opportunity has lapsed. This
significantly reduces waiting times for Muslims who otherwise
might wait several years.

11. (U) After SYG Ihsanoglu provided a brief overview of the
history of the OIC's relations with the USG, Bilici asked why
the USG waited until June 2007 to become involved with the
OIC, suggesting that the events on September 11, or Russia's
appointment of an observer to the OIC might have prompted
U.S. action. S/E Cumber and SYG Ihsanoglu explained that the
United States has always included Islam in its worldview,
pointing to President Eisenhower's 1957 speech during the
opening of the U.S. Islamic Center. The OIC is now of more
value to countries like the United States, SYG Ihsanoglu
noted, as it had previously not taken an active role in
international governmental organizations.

12. (U) Throughout his meetings, S/E Cumber emphasized the
need for intrafaith dialogue among Muslims. "We have yet to
get to the point where we can live together," he said, making
it difficult to engage in interfaith dialogue.

13. (U) This message has been cleared by S/E Sada Cumber.
OUDKIRK

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