Cablegate: A/S Wayne's Meeting with Abdulla Bin Al-Attiyah,
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 001862
DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS USTR
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ECIN EFIN ETRD EINV ETTC PREL PTER PINR QA XF
SUBJECT: A/S WAYNE'S MEETING WITH ABDULLA BIN AL-ATTIYAH,
GOVERNOR OF THE CENTRAL BANK OF QATAR
1. (SBU) Summary: During a bilateral meeting held June 25
on the margins of the International Arab Banking Summit in
Montreal, A/S Anthony Wayne and Abdulla bin al-Attiyah,
Governor of the Central Bank of Qatar, discussed the regional
economic situation with a focus on the fight against
terrorist financing, privatization plans, and trade issues
including the President's initiatives on the Middle East Free
Trade Agreement (MEFTA) and Middle East Partnership
Initiative (MEPI). End summary.
2. (U) Al-Attiyah confirmed that Qatar's economy is booming:
oil and gas revenues are up; prices on the stock exchange
are up almost 20% this year after increasing nearly 35% last
year; and real estate prices are strong.
New Steps to Control Financial Flows
3. (U) A/S Wayne congratulated al-Attiyah on the success of
last fall's anti-money laundering conference and mentioned
participation by Qatari officials in the recent USG training
sessions. He stressed the importance we continue to place on
blocking the flow of funds to terrorist organizations, and
asked the status of Qatar's anti-money laundering
legislation. Al-Attiyah said that the money laundering law
is moving: it has been approved by the Council of Ministers
and the shura, and should be finalized soon. The GOQ has
established a new committee to address money laundering under
the jurisdiction of the Central bank.
4. (SBU) Qatar is adding terrorist financing to the criminal
law, and has just established a committee to coordinate the
fight against terrorist financing. They are adding a legal
article permitting the Central Bank Governor to freeze any
asset on instructions from the Attorney General-equivalent.
(Al-Attiyah said he is pleased that he does not have the
authority to freeze assets unilaterally, fearing that could
lead to perceptions of abuse of power. The proposed
arrangement will allow officials with access to intelligence
reporting and legal information to make the decision.)
MEFTA and MEPI have Promise
5. (SBU) Asked his views on MEFTA and MEPI, al-Attiyah said
he is not an expert. It sounds like a nice approach; has
validity; a good idea. But he wanted to emphasize his
personal view on the importance of solving Middle East
problems first. The initiatives are nice, but the
Palestinian problem is crucial. Bush seems to be a firm
president and al-Attiyah stated that he tells people the U.S.
president shouldn't be underestimated. A/S Wayne responded
that the situations in Iraq and the Middle East peace process
are crucial and President Bush and the Administration are
committed to finding a solution, but MEFTA and MEPI provide
other pillars to support growth and development in the
Democracy is Key
6. (U) Asked his view on the most important ingredient for
peace and growth in the region, al-Attiyah said "democracy."
The region has never had cooperation; it has not even been
able to agree on a customs union. The GCC is hoping to
establish a common currency by 2010, to really integrate the
GCC economies. Most big projects in the region are
successful if they have government support, and the US should
be sure governments are involved.
Need to Refine Informal Fund Transfer Systems
7. (U) Al-Attiyah noted that during international meetings,
his fellow GCC Governors have commented on Americans'
apparent misunderstanding of the term "hawala," giving it
meaning beyond its Arabic meaning of "transfer." A/S Wayne
said we are aware of the nuances and have adopted various
terms such as "informal value transfer system" to refer to
the process. There was discussion of the benefits of sharing
best practices, including licensing those engaged in
transferring funds and lowering the costs of transferring
funds in the formal financial system. Al-Attiyah confirmed
that in Qatar the correspondent in a hawala transfer should
be a licensed bank. He suggested that a more targeted
approach on specific individuals might be more effective than
the very broad effort to control all fund transfers. (The
issue of providing what could be an expensive system for
transfer of remittances had been raised during the panel
discussion moderated by al-Attiyah.)
8. (U) Asked about Qatar's privatization plans, al-Attiyah
mentioned that the first target will be in the petrochemical
sector, and discussed plans regarding aluminum.
9. (U) Al-Attiyah's father has a house in Beirut at which
al-Attiyah vacations. He went to school in Michigan and
attended SAIS. He later served in Qatar's embassy in
Washington from 1979-82. He speaks fluent but un-enunciated
10. (U) A/S Wayne cleared this cable.