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Cablegate: Dutch Fm Bot's Visit to the U.S

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 000281

SIPDIS

FOR SECRETARY POWELL, NSA RICE, AND DEPSEC WOLFOWITZ FROM
AMB CLIFF SOBEL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2014
TAGS: AF EU IZ NL PGOV PREL SNAR TU XA XF XH NATO
SUBJECT:...

13722
2004-02-04

04THEHAGUE281

Embassy The Hague

CONFIDENTIAL

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 THE HAGUE 000281
SIPDIS

FOR SECRETARY POWELL, NSA RICE, AND DEPSEC WOLFOWITZ FROM
AMB CLIFF SOBEL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2014

TAGS: AF EU IZ NL PGOV PREL SNAR TU XA XF XH NATO

SUBJECT: DUTCH FM BOT'S VISIT TO THE U.S.

Classified By: AMBASSADOR CLIFFORD SOBEL FOR REASONS 1.5 B AND D

1. (C) I just spoke with Ben Bot and found him
well-prepared for his February 9 visit to Washington. He
plans to ask how he personally can contribute to improved
transatlantic relations. As he has said in press
interviews, other European leaders are counting on him to
help mend fences between the European Union and
Washington. That remark is a telling sign of his ambition
and self-confidence. Upon taking office he immediately set
out to improve Dutch relations with France and Germany, to
challenge the most senior minister for dominance within the
Dutch cabinet, to charm parliamentarians, and to impress
MFA officials. He is talented and extremely clever at EU
politics after eight years as the Dutch ambassador to the
EU. We should take up his professions of transatlantic
leadership by asking for real support.

-----------------------------------
Gaining Bot's Support within the EU
-----------------------------------

2. (C) FM Bot could help gain EU cooperation on issues of
critical importance to the U.S. We should ask for help on
the following issues within the EU:
--Greater Middle East. We can tap Bot to help build support
within the EU for this initiative. He has expressed
interest in GME but will likely emphasize the need to
reinvigorate the peace process as well.
--Turkey: Bot should be asked to show leadership on this
issue within the EU. A former ambassador to Turkey, Bot
already has altered the MFA course, making clear that he
favors Turkey EU accession, if it meets the Copenhagen
criteria. However, he has his work cut out for him
domestically because two of the three parties in government
are highly skeptical of Turkish membership: the Liberal
Party for financial reasons and some of his own Christian
Democrats for cultural ones. Bot said that Greek FM
Papandreou told him Turkey positive steps on Cyprus are
worrying because now Greece risks looking like the
spoiler. Bot also expressed concern about pressure he
heard the U.S. is putting on new members regarding Turkey.
--NATO-EU: Bot should hear specific ways in which he can
protect transatlantic equities. The Dutch are Berlin Plus
purists and can be counted on to help prevent EU straying,
assuming the UK stays on message. Bot told me that German
FM Fischer is eager to find concrete ways of restoring the
situation. To be close to the U.S. is ssential, ischer
said. Bot said the French professed a similar desire to
find substantive issues for transatlantic cooperation, but
that as conversations went longer with FM Villepin and
Giscard d staing, their criticisms of the U.S. grew.
--Counter-terrorism: Bot needs to know how important Dutch
leadership was on container security and portal monitors
and be asked to show leadership in next steps between the
EU and U.S. He needs to hear that we need Dutch help in
developing better processes of communication and
cooperation.
--Other Europe: Bot can be asked to help synchronize U.S.
and EU policy on frozen conflicts, Georgia, and the Values
Gap with Russia. The Dutch term as OSCE chair was
characterized by intensive dialogue with Russia, the
Caucasus and Central Asia.
--Africa/HIV: Bot can encourage others in the EU to more
closely coordinate their programs on Africa and HIV,
following the Dutch example. The Netherlands and the U.S.
are coordinating their HIV assistance in several countries
and the Dutch have made Africa a priority, especially Sudan
and the Great Lakes region. They are an important player
on the continent and the third largest donor.
3. (C) On all these issues, Bot could play a significant
role. However, it is not yet clear the degree to which he
is willing to stake out a position and lead the EU versus
waiting to see which way the EU winds blow. His
calculations might be based more tightly on his perception
of Dutch national interests than on principle. Last week,
despite massive parliamentary objections, he reversed Dutch
opposition to lifting the China arms embargo. He explained
his decision to me in classic terms: the Dutch risked
being locked out of China for years if they tried to block
the EU. Furthermore, he said, there is no point in the
Dutch taking stands that isolate it within the EU.

--------------------------------------------- ---------------
-------
Pushing Bot on bilateral issues: Iraq, Afghanistan, TIP,
Narcotics
--------------------------------------------- ---------------
--------

4. (C) The Dutch need to hear that they should do even more
in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Dutch are actively
discussing whether they can offer special forces to OEF and
PRT leadership or whether to try to get away with less
difficult tasks in Afghanistan. Bot cited the cabinet
January 31 decision
to send Apache helicopters to
Afghanistan as nough for now. e should be thanked but
given the message that the helos are not enough. Bot said
PRTs remain under consideration but that he needs to go
step by step with parliament. PRTs are a poignant test of
the Dutch conflict between wanting to be a player that
takes on serious responsibility and fearing taking or
causing casualties, a fear exacerbated by their experiences
in Srebrenica. Many parliamentarians, including from the
opposition, have visited Afghanistan and believe ISAF needs
to expand and yet do not want Dutch troops deployed in
unsafe areas. They will want to know what the extraction
plan is and will feel most confident if under the
protection of U.S. or UK forces.
5. (C) As for Iraq, Defense Minister Kamp already is
suggesting publicly that Dutch troops need to stay beyond
July; Bot should hear Washington endorse this, as well as
ask for more development and reconstruction assistance. Bot
is more sympathetic than others in the Dutch government to
increasing assistance to Iraq, but may try to hide behind
budget woes. It is also useful to talk about NATO future
role in Iraq. Bot and the Dutch perm rep have been
cautious; we should push him.
6. (C) CT/Drugs/TIP: We should push him for further
cooperation on counter-terrorism issues, and to more
effectively address continuing problems regarding
trafficking in people and narcotics.

-------
Comment
-------


7. (C) Ben Bot makes all the right professions of faith in
the transatlantic relationship, but has not yet had to make
a decision that risks angering larger EU partners. He
cites his deceased American wife as one strong link to the
U.S. Transatlanticists who have known him throughout his
career say that he is indeed a classic Dutchman who sees no
conflict between being a committed Atlanticist and a
committed European. His comments on Villepin also suggest
he has no illusions about the French. However, he has been
playing on the European stage, not the world stage for a
decade, and in our early meetings, he occasionally made odd
remarks to me about U.S. indifference to the EU. In giving
him real work to do when he is in Washington, the goal is
not only to advance U.S. objectives but also to get a
clearer picture of how capable and courageous he is. It
could be that he is the ideal man to run the Dutch EU
presidency because he might be even better than de Hoop
Scheffer at jumping EU hurdles. We should take advantage
of his energy and ambition to be a serious player, and we
should gauge how much water he will be able to carry during
the Dutch presidency. PM Balkenende has given him the
lead; thus, U.S.-EU relations in the second half of 2004
depend largely on this man abilities and attitudes.

SOBEL

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