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Cablegate: Aboul Gheit's Iraq Visit Successful

VZCZCXRO0361
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHEG #2156 2811514
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071514Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0609
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 002156

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/07/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV EPET IZ EG
SUBJECT: ABOUL GHEIT'S IRAQ VISIT SUCCESSFUL

REF: A. BAGHDAD 3239
B. CAIRO 1842
C. CAIRO 1789
D. CAIRO 2141

Classified By: MINISTER-COUNSELOR WILLIAM R. STEWART REASONS: 1.4 (B) and (D)
1.(C) MFA Senior Advisor and Spokesman Hossam Zaki debriefed us October 7 on FM Aboul Gheit's October 5 visit to Iraq. Zaki, who accompanied Aboul Gheit, said the trip was very successful. The Iraqis were extremely appreciative and welcoming. Zaki said that the visit has set the stage "for a new phase in the relationship." Aboul Gheit (accompanied by Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy) met with PM Maliki, FM Zebari and DefMin Mufriji in Baghdad. He then traveled with Zebari to Sulaymaniyah for a meeting with President Talabani.

2.(C) Zaki said that the Iraqis asked for assistance in developing energy infrastructure, and Oil Minister Fahmy told the Iraqis that two Egyptian companies will be available to offer expertise "immediately." The two sides agreed that a joint commission would meet in four to six weeks to discuss development of both political and economic/commercial bilateral ties.

3.(C) Zaki said the atmosphere was excellent throughout the visit, particularly in the meeting with PM Maliki, whom he characterized as "extremely forthcoming and receptive." He noted that President Talabani was accompanied by both VP Mahdi and VP Hashmi, which he interpreted as a positive sign of unity. Talabani spoke forcefully on the need for a strong bilateral relationship with Egypt, something Aboul Gheit welcomed. Zaki said that FM Aboul Gheit told Talabani that it was not Egypt's practice to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, to which Talabani replied wryly that in fact he would welcome such "Egyptian interference."

4.(C) Zaki claimed that the Egyptians and Iraqis "reached agreement on two villas" for the future Egyptian Embassy, which he said are located adjacent to the new American Embassy and overlooking the Tigris River. Zaki said the GOE envisions a large complement of diplomats and officials from various agencies to live and work at the new embassy. The villas are in need of major refurbishment, which will take some time, but Zaki reported that both sides agreed to move as quickly as possible to complete the work. SCOBEY

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