Cablegate: Readout of U.S.-Uk-Libya Tscc Bio Subcommittee Meeting, November 24-26
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000991
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SUBJECT: READOUT OF U.S.-UK-LIBYA TSCC BIO SUBCOMMITTEE MEETING, NOVEMBER 24-26 REF: 06 TRIPOLI 498 CLASSIFIED BY: John T. Godfrey, Acting DCM, U.S. Embassy - Tripoli, U.S. Dept of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (C) Summary: The Libyan Permanent National Committee on Bioethics and Biosafety (LPNCBB) hosted the Trilateral Steering and Coordination Committee (TSCC) Biological Subcommittee in Tripoli November 24-26 for their first meeting since November 2007. After several years of productive meetings, UK and U.S. experts found the Libyan side less willing to speak openly about the way forward and more forceful in calls that the GOL needed to see concrete "rewards" for having voluntarily abandoned its WMD programs. Most contentious was the tri-lateral presentation to be delivered at the December 1 Meeting of the States Parties of the BWC; the LPNCBB avoided agreeing on the language, claiming that it failed to see how the joint presentation could enhance Libya's standing in front of the BWC. The LPNCBB provided a list of names for training at the NIAID and CDC during 2009 and a laundry list of proposed training courses it wants. U.S. and UK delegations also attended a workshop on clinical bioethics. The LPNCBB's insistence on seeing results mirrors what we are seeing in many areas of the relationship, as the GOL seeks to balance their opening to the West with their independence and regional leadership ambitions. End Summary.
2. (U) The TSCC Biological Subcommittee held their first meeting since 2007 in Tripoli November 24-26. The meetings opened with a review of the minutes from the November 2007 subcommittee meeting. LPNCBB officials notified the UK-U.S. teams that the proposed trilateral Memorandum of Understanding that would better define the three sides' roles had not yet been approved by all relevant actors on the Libyan side. The three parties agreed to keep the MOU as an ongoing action. In the November 2007 meeting, LPNCBB officials had asked both the UK and U.S. to investigate the possibility of providing funds to defray travel and lodging expenses for LPNCBB delegations to travel to the U.S. and UK. Neither the U.S. or UK are able to provide such funding; the Libyan side was informed that funding would remain the responsibility of each individual nation.
LIBYA'S REWARD-SEEKING COMPLICATES DISCUSSION OF PAPERS
3. (C) The UK delegation presented their paper outlining the subcommittee's Criteria of Success, which was accepted with a few minor modifications centered on appropriate metrics to monitor and understand success. Negotiations became contentious, however, when the three parties entered into discussion on the paper titled "Enhancing Capabilities for Biosafety, Biosecurity and Bioethics: Trilateral Cooperation on a Trio of Issues", which was to have been presented jointly at the December 1 meeting of the BWC in Geneva. The Libyan delegation used the discussion as an opportunity to criticize the U.S. and UK for not having provided enough "things" [rewards] to the LPNCBB. Unlike recent meetings between the U.S. team and LPNCBB members in which Libyan officials asserted a certain level of autonomy, the LPNCBB officials commented that they had to show results to the General People's Committee. While the LPNCBB conceded that much bilateral work had occurred in the last few years between both U.S., UK and Libyan institutions, they argued that such activity was not under the purview of the LPNCBB and therefore did not "count" as Bio-Subcommittee activities. Despite repeated urging from the UK-U.S. team, it was clear that most LPNCBB members failed to recognize that a joint presentation to the BWC showing the benefits to Libya of eliminating its BW-related activities would be a positive step. Changes were discussed, but the Libyans insisted that the revisions needed to be cleared at a higher level.
4. (U) While significant time was set aside discuss training opportunities for Libyans in the U.S. and UK, little time was actually spent addressing the issue. Both the U.S. and UK chairs provided points of contact for upcoming visits, but no final arrangements were made. The Libyans provided a list of names to come to the U.S. for discussion at NIAID and CDC in late-February 2009. Libya also provided a list of desired courses for review, which was largely a recapitulations of the wish list it provided in 2004.
U.S. AND UK DELEGATIONS VISIT BIOETHICS WORKSHOP
5. (C//REL UK) The Libyan National Center for Infectious Disease Control sponsored a workshop on Bioethics on November 25 for approximately 20 Libyan physicians and scientists. The highlight of the workshop was a talk by Dr. Ali Bourawi, the workshop's chair, on the Islamic Concept of Truth-Telling for TRIPOLI 00000991 002 OF 002 Medical Practitioners. During one of the sessions, Dr. Bourawi commented that Libya had imprisoned drug users in 1993-1994. The casual remark was accepted by the Libyans in the room as a given, and was mentioned in the context of hypothetically removing HIV-positive people from the general population in order to lower the figure of infected individuals.
6. (C) Comment: After years of relatively open communication between the three sides, there was considerable disagreement with interlocutors from the LPNCBB during the U.S. team's three-day visit. A measure of the new tension was that Libyan contacts of the visiting delegations were reluctant to meet at the airport. They claimed it "would not be good and would raise questions" if they were seen meeting Westerners at the airport or hotel (as opposed to at meeting venues). It was clear that as the focus shifted from disarmament to capacity building, Libyan officials were under pressure from their superiors to secure further tangible "rewards" for giving up WMD programs, a demand we have heard repeatedly from other GOL interlocutors. End comment.
7. (U) Meeting participants were: Libya: - Dr. Mohamed Sharif, Chairman of the LPNCBB - Dr. Abdurrahman Mohamed Etwel, Faculty of Science, al-Fatah University - Dr. Abdulaziz Mohamed el-Buni, Faculty of Science, al-Fatah University - Dr. Mohamed Saad Ambrak, President of Libyan International Medical Univerity - Dr. Abdulkader Abdurawoof el-Maleh, Faculty of Agriculture, Omar al-Mukhtar University - Dr. Abdalgader Saleh Ali, Faculty of Science, al-Fatah University - Dr. Achris A.A. Abdulgasem, General Director for Food and Drug Control - Dr. Abdulhafid Abdusallam Abudher, Director of the National Center for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control - Dr. Mohamed Faraj Abu Ghalia, Temporary General Committee for Defense - Dr. Mahmoud Sedig al-Falah, Director of the General Authority for Environment - Abdulaker Mohamed Alioah, General People's Committee for Justice, General Administration for Law UK: - Dr. Peter Biggins, UK TSCC Bio-Subcommittee co-chair, DSTL - Dr. Lorna Miller, DSTL - David Clay, British Embassy U.S.: - Dr. Brian Nordmann, U.S. Co-Chair, Department of State - Katherine Crittenberger, Department of State - Tanya Anthony, Department of State - Chris Andino, Embassy Tripoli