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Cablegate: Ambassador's Chittagong Visit - Military Engagement and A

VZCZCXRO7411
RR RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #1164/01 3151214
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101214Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7691
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2442
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0930
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9952
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8710
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 2690
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1848
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1555
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 001164

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR ECON PGOV KPAO SOCI BG
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S CHITTAGONG VISIT - MILITARY ENGAGEMENT AND A
FOURTH D

SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) Ambassador Moriarty's second visit to the city of Chittagong
highlighted U.S.-Bangladesh Navy cooperation and the importance of
decentralization in an effective democracy. As part of a November
2-6 port call in Chittagong by the USNS SAFEGUARD, the Ambassador
observed U.S. Navy divers working with Bangladesh Navy divers to
perfect diving and salvaging techniques. The Ambassador also spoke
to businessmen and students at two separate events. In an address
to the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Ambassador
emphasized the role local government could play in ensuring
transparent and effective management of government services and
resources. This message resonated well among business leaders in
Bangladesh's second largest city.

DEVELOPING NAVY CAPACITY
--------------------

2. (SBU) Ambassador Moriarty visited Chittagong November 4 in
conjunction with a port call by the USNS SAFEGUARD, a Military
Sealift Command (MSC) rescue and salvage ship. A U.S. Navy Mobile
Diving and Salvage Unit deployed on the SAFEGUARD conducted a diving
and salvage exercise with Bangladesh Navy divers. During the
Ambassador's visit to the SAFEGUARD, he watched as Bangladesh and
U.S. divers practiced diving maneuvers in the strong currents of
Chittagong harbor. The Commodore of the Chittagong Naval base
outlined for the Ambassador plans to expand the Bangladesh Navy's
maritime security capabilities; the Commodore praised strong
U.S.-Bangladesh naval ties as an important contributor to developing
his Navy's capacity. For their part, the U.S. Navy divers were
impressed by the skills and professionalism of the Bangladesh divers
with whom they worked.

3. (U) SAFEGUARD crew members and the Ambassador also participated
in a community relations project at an elementary school near the
Chittagong naval base. Ship electricians updated the school's
wiring system so all classrooms would have lights. The Ambassador,
ship crew members and divers handed out backpacks to 400 students.
The school serves children in an impoverished neighborhood of
rickshaw-pullers and garment workers. It survives on donations and
modest amounts of government funds, so the work of the SAFEGUARD
crew provided valuable repairs and supplies to a truly needy
school.

THE ROLE OF DECENTRALIZATION IN DEMOCRACY
------------------------

4. (U) The Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the
Ambassador at a lunch for about 50 of its members. The Ambassador's
remarks highlighted U.S. and upcoming Bangladesh elections, with a
focus on decentralization. Noting that Senator and President-elect
Obama and Governor Palin started their political careers in state
and local government, he said this could be effective as model in
Bangladesh. Strong local government could be a training ground for
future national leaders. A stronger system of local government also
could ensure government services and resources were managed more
transparently and effectively. The Chittagong businessmen welcomed
the Ambassador's comments, embracing decentralization as a fourth
"D" after the priorities of democracy, development and denial of
space to terrorists.

STUDENTS COMMENT ON ELECTIONS AT HOME AND ABROAD
-----------------------------

6. (U) The Ambassador met with about 30 students and faculty at the
American Corner on the Chittagong campus of the Independent
University of Bangladesh. The students asked pointed questions
about the U.S. elections and expressed concern about the future of
their own country and its elections scheduled for December.
Students and faculty also expressed interest in additional ties with
U.S. universities and in obtaining more English-language training
materials at the American Corner.

COMMENT
-------

7. (SBU) Chittagong is a bustling city and port critical to
Bangladesh's maritime security and its economy. The Ambassador
highlighted these themes in his visit, and his Chittagong
interlocutors welcomed further interaction with the USG and the
United States in general. The Ambassador's message on
decentralization, a fourth "D", clearly resonated with Chittagong

DHAKA 00001164 002 OF 002


businessmen, who voiced frustration about getting attention and
resources from the powers-that-be in Dhaka.

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