Cablegate: U/S Larson Meeting with Afghan Minister of Foreign

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) U/S Larson met with Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah
Abdullah on the margins of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on
Saturday, May 15. Larson asked Abdullah to review the latest
draft of the G-8 plan of support for reform. After handing
over a copy, Larson outlined the scope of the initiative and
stressed that regional input was key to make this G-8 effort
a success. Larson praised Education Minister Dr. Ghani's
willingness to serve as one of the chairs of the literacy
reform program. Larson informed Abdullah that he would be
meeting with his G-8 counterparts in the next few days to
shape the initiative and it was crucial that he consult with
all countries interested in participating. He added that it
was particularly critical for President Karzai, an advocate
for reform in the region who has agreed to endorse the
initiative at Sea Island, to have a full understanding of the

2. (SBU) Abdullah commented that he had a sense of the
regional view on the initiative but wanted to know how the
other G-8 partners viewed it. Larson said that his G-8
partners were largely supportive but some have raised
questions over the region's willingness to commit to some of
the programs, particularly democracy. Larson said that the
contacts the USG has made suggest that participants were at
the WEF to confirm regional views. As long the program is
perceived as a genuine offer to support those countries who
would like assistance, and not as a one-size-fits-all
prescription, the program will have the support of the

3. (SBU) Abdullah suggested that the region will be ready if
it hears the right noises. He went on offer a word of
caution. The main allies of this package are the
intellectuals in the region and because of recent
developments and perceptions, their support may be waning.
It is critical that the USG find a people to people mechanism
to insure that you do not lose this valuable support base.
Larson replied that the USG is working to deepen these ties.

4. (SBU) Larson turned the conversation toward a discussion
on Afghan priorities. Abdullah answered by saying that the
Afghan people are facing some of the same kind of challenge -
perception - that the U.S. faces in the region. Abdullah
recounted a discussion that he had with the Saudis last week,
in which they had suggested that the Afghan people are not
ready for democracy and granting rights to women. He had
told the Saudis that democracy is the wish of the Afghan
people and that they as a democracy had decided to proceed.
Despite these differences, Larson assured Abdullah that the
USG would work with the Gulf countries to insure that they
are willing to provide the political and economic support
Kabul needs over the coming years. Abdullah conceded that
his government has not made a sufficient effort to woo the
Persian Gulf donors, but said that it understands that it
must do a better job and is trying to do so. He cited, as
one example, a proposal from government of Qatar for an
irrigation project.

5. (SBU) Moving the donor discussion the next step, Larson
probed for Afghan efforts into tapping the private sector.
He mentioned that he had met with several members of the Arab
Business Council the previous night, who recognize that there
is great opportunity in Afghanistan, as a hub for business
and trade in the region. Abdullah agreed saying that at an
Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) meeting last week,
the 11 members agreed that they must overcome their
differences to push economic development forward. Abdullah
agreed that he must pursue not only the private sector and
must also tap into nongovernmental organizations to provide
technical assistance to the public sector.

6. (U) This message was cleared by Under Secretary Larson.

7. (U) Kabul minimize considered.

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