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Cablegate: Country Clearance to the Cook Islands for Tsar

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

UNCLAS WELLINGTON 000760

SIPDIS

SYDNEY FOR TSA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA ECON NZ
SUBJECT: COUNTRY CLEARANCE TO THE COOK ISLANDS FOR TSAR
SCOTTIE LAIRD, SEPTEMBER 17-23, 2004

REF: SYDNEY 867

1. Embassy grants country clearance to Transportation
Security Administration Representative (TSAR) Scottie R.
Laird to travel to Rarotonga, Cook Islands, September 17-23,
2004. The purpose of travel is to complete National
Information for the Cook Islands.

2. Embassy understands no assistance is required.

3. Point of contact at Embassy Wellington is Pol/Econ
Office Manager Bridget Walsh. Contact details are as
follows:

Office: 644-462-6033
Fax: 644-472-3537
Cell: 027-451-2540
E-mail: walshba@state.gov

Security Assessment
-------------------

4. The Cook Islands is a Parliamentary democracy in free
association with New Zealand, on which they rely for defense
and assistance in meeting low-level security threats. The
Embassy is not aware of any specific threats to U.S.
facilities or personnel at this time in the Cook Islands.
However, in light of the worldwide security alert all
visitors should heighten their security awareness and report
any unusual incidents to the Regional Security Office at the
Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand.

5. Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in
the U.S. and the November 2002 terrorist bombing in Bali,
there has been concern that terrorists might seek to take
advantage of the low level of security maintained in small
island states such as the Cook Islands in order to target
tourists in previously safe destinations. New Zealand has
worked with the Cook Islands to improve airport security in
response to this possibility. Terrorist actions may
include, but are not limited to, suicide operations,
bombings, or kidnapping. Possible threats include
conventional weapons such as explosive devices or non-
conventional weapons, including chemical or biological
agents. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and
civilian targets. Targets may include facilities where
Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as
residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship,
schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, resorts, and
beaches. U.S. citizens should increase their security
awareness at such locations, avoid them, or switch to other
locations where Americans in large numbers generally do not
congregate.

6. The Cook Islands offshore finance industry has come
under scrutiny regarding possible money laundering. The
Cook Islands has been included on the OECD's list of non-
cooperating states in the fight against money laundering.

7. As a result of recent military action in Iraq, there is
a potential for retaliatory actions to be taken against U.S.
citizens and interest throughout the world. Public
demonstrations carry the potential for precipitating
violence directed at American citizens.

8. U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a
heightened state of alert and some have drawn down their
dependents and/or personnel. These facilities may
temporarily close or suspend public services from time to
time for security reasons. In those instances, U.S.
embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide
emergency services to American citizens. Monitor the local
news and maintain contact with the nearest American Embassy
or U.S. Consulate.

9. Crime: Appropriate common sense precautions should be
taken, especially at night, to avoid becoming a target of
opportunity.

10. Weather: Severe cyclones present a threat during the
hurricane season, which is from November to March.

Swindells

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