Cablegate: Minister-President Koch's Visit to Washington May

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Hesse Minister-President Koch will have an official
visit Washington May 13-15. Koch would like to focus on
international affairs, the U.S.-German relationship,
potential U.S. military base closings in Germany, Iraq, US-
EU issues, and counter-terrorism and security issues and
will be seeking appropriate appointments through official
channels. Koch also has an interest in Asia, particularly
in increasing market access in China for German companies,
and in the Tibet issue.

2. (SBU) Minister-President Koch is a likely challenger for
chancellor candidate to Christian Democratic Union (CDU)
chairman Angela Merkel in 2006, and has a strong interest in
foreign affairs and the United States in particular. (See
reftel bio cable on Koch for more details.) He and his
party won an absolute majority in Hesse state elections on
February 2, 2003, increasing his standing and influence in
the CDU nationally. The request for the visit has already
gone through the German Foreign Ministry, which will
coordinate with the German Embassy. We believe it is
important that Koch obtain substantive meetings at the
highest appropriate level at the Department, on the Hill and
at the Department of Defense. Koch announced his visit
during CDU Chairman Angela Merkel's visit and is in
competition with Merkel for influence in the CDU. He will
likely want a good deal of press attention for his visit.
Koch may also wish to visit Wisconsin during this trip,
which has a sister-state relationship with Hesse. Koch is
also a personal friend of HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, whom
he knows from his days as Governor of Wisconsin.

3. (U) Pol/Econ Chief Ruth M. Hall will be point of contact
at the Consulate for any follow up questions or
coordination, along with Pol/Econ FSN Specialist Christian
O. Goebel.

4. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.


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