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Cablegate: Fco Pleased with U.S./Uk Alignment On Afghanistan

VZCZCXRO5980
PP RUEHPW
DE RUEHLO #2821 3121643
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 071643Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0364
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 002821

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/WE, INL, SCA/A

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2018
TAGS: PREL KNAR PTER AF UK
SUBJECT: FCO PLEASED WITH U.S./UK ALIGNMENT ON AFGHANISTAN
CN; WANTS ROBUST ROLE FOR ISAF IN CN

Classified By: Political Counselor Richard M. Mills, Jr. for reasons 1. 4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: INL Assistant Secretary David Johnson visited London October 31, to review Afghan counter-narcotics efforts (CN) with British counterparts. Johnson shared observations from his visit to Helmand, noted the importance of Afghan National Army CNIK protection for eradication, and noted the need for more combat teams to protect mentors in the police training program. UK officials were in general agreement. They were hopeful of a more robust ISAF interdiction role and said that British PM Brown would reiterate to President Karzai, during his early November visit to London, continuing strong UK support for Helmand Governor Mangal. End summary.

2. (C) INL A/S Johnson met separately with FCO Political Director Mark Lyall Grant and Afghan Drugs inter-Departmental Unit (ADIDU) Deputy Director Sarah Hearn. In his meetings, Johnson explained that during his recent visit to Helmand he had learned that British forces had received the Fragmentary Order (FRAGO) on UK forces support for CN operations. He was hopeful that this would give an opening for a more robust approach on interdiction. Hearn agreed and said the UK wants to push ISAF as far as possible in this regard.

3. (C) Johnson emphasized to his interlocutors the importance of a successful ANA/Counter Narcotics Interdiction (CNIK) operation in Helmand (and nationwide) and the need for the operations to have more of an Afghan face. He noted that we expect active field eradication efforts to begin no later than February, which would maximize the effectiveness of eradication and allow the operations to conclude before any harvest, a time when the risk would spike. He emphasized the importance of avoiding perceptions of favoritism and conducting sufficient eradication within the &food zone8 to serve as an effective deterrent. While we were willing to target specific producers at UK request, we also needed to take out wide areas of production to demonstrate the risk to all opium producers. Lyall Grant emphasized that there should be no "gap" between U.S. and UK thinking on this strategy.

4. (C) Hearn said that HMG was pleased with the results of the mid-October U.S.-UK CN talks in London. The U.S. and UK, she noted, were in broad agreement on most questions, including the need for more detailed eradication metrics. She said the UK believes working with ISAF to target eradication operations within the food zones in Helmand would have maximum impact and would help Governor Mangal's efforts. She also noted that the Department for International Development (DfID) was working with the Afghan government to support agricultural zones and inject funding into "areas of vulnerability" to help farmers avoid slipping back into opium production. A detailed plan would be critical to avoid donor inertia.

5. (C) Lyall Grant noted that during President Karzai's London visit in early November, Prime Minister Brown would reiterate strong UK support for Mangal. Other "tough love" messages Karzai will hear will include the need to advance preparations for the September 2009 elections, produce a more detailed strategy on reconciliation, and devolve authorities as appropriate to the provinces. In response to Lyall Grant's observation that more trained Afghan police would be essential for stability and that he hoped to see more gendarmerie and carabinieri deployed to assist, Johnson pointed out that more combat teams to protect mentors would be critical to the success of this part of the operation.

6. (U) A/S Johnson cleared this cable. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
TUTTLE

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