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Cablegate: Tfizo1: Fao Says Press Misrepresented Views On

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

UNCLAS ROME 002213

SIPDIS


FROM FODAG

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR PRM A/S DEWEY, IO A/S HOLMES, EUR/NE, EUR/WE,
SA/INS, IO/EDA S. WINNICK
USDA/FAS FOR U/S PENN, MCHAMBLISS, RTILSWORTH AND
LPANASUK
USAID FOR ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS, AA/DCHA WINTER,
D/DCHA/OFDA BMCCONNELL, D/DCHA/FFP LANDIS
JOINT STAFF FOR JE/J4/J5
NSC FOR JDWORKEN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC EAID EAGR IZ FAO WFP
SUBJECT: TFIZO1: FAO SAYS PRESS MISREPRESENTED VIEWS ON
IRAQ FOOD SITUATION

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. MISOFFS CONTACTED THE UN FOOD AND
AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO) REGARDING RECENT PRESS
REPORTS CONVEYING ALLEGED FAO CONCERN REGARDING THE FOOD
SITUATION AND THE PROSPECT OF "STARVATION" IN IRAQ.
LAURENT THOMAS, CHIEF OF SPECIAL EMERGENCY PROGRAMS, SAID
THAT THE FAO'S VIEWS WERE MISREPRESENTED: FAO DOES NOT
HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT "STARVATION" IN IRAQ. FAO BELIEVES
THAT THE FOOD SITUATION IS BEING WELL HANDLED AND THERE
IS NO RISK OF DETERIORATION IN FOOD SECURITY. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) ON MAY 11, 2003, THE GUARDIAN (UK) REPORTED THAT
THE FAO BELIEVES THAT IRAQI AGRICULTURE IS ON THE "BRINK
OF COLLAPSE" AND MANY OF IRAQ'S PEOPLE WILL "GO HUNGRY
THIS SUMMER." A MAY 12 STORY ON THE BLOOMBERG WIRE
SERVICE REPORTED FAO'S CHIEF OF SPECIAL EMERGENCY
PROGRAMS, LAURENT THOMAS, AS SAYING THE FAO IS "VERY
CONCERNED ABOUT IRAQ'S FOOD PRODUCTION CAPACITIES FOR
BOTH THE SHORT- AND LONG-TERM." HOWEVER, THE ARTICLE DID
NOTE THAT THOMAS DOWNPLAYED THE POSSIBILITY OF A HUNGER
CRISIS IN IRAQ.

3. (SBU) TO MISSION OFFICERS, THOMAS INDICATED THAT THE
GUARDIAN ARTICLE SOUGHT TO SENSATIONALIZE AND RELIED UPON
A JUNIOR FAO STAFF MEMBER IN CYPRUS. THOMAS SAID HIS
COMMENTS TO BLOOMBERG WERE MEANT TO CORRECT THE RECORD.
THOMAS EXPRESSED REGRET THAT FAO VIEWS HAD BEEN
MISPORTRAYED, AND NOTED HE HAS SINCE BEEN DESIGNATED THE
SOLE SPOKESPERSON FOR FAO ON IRAQ TO TRY TO AVOID SUCH
STORIES IN THE FUTURE.

4. (SBU) THOMAS ELABORATED THAT FAO AND THE UN WORLD FOOD
PROGRAM (WFP) ARE ON THE SAME WAVELENGTH IN TERMS OF
THEIR ASSESSMENT OF THE IRAQI FOOD SITUATION: THE FOOD
SITUATION IS BEING WELL HANDLED AND, IN LIGHT OF THE RE-
ACTIVATION OF THE PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM, THERE IS NO
RISK THE FOOD SECURITY SITUATION WILL DETERIORATE. FAO
AND WFP ARE SHARING INFORMATION AND ARE JOINTLY PLANNING
A CROP AND FOOD ASSESSMENT MISSION THE FIRST WEEK IN
JUNE, WHEN SECURITY IS EXPECTED TO ALLOW ACCESS FOR THE
TEAM AND THE HARVEST WILL BE ONGOING. TAMLYN



NNNN
2003ROME02213 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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