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Cablegate: Codels Pelosi/Kilpatrick/Smith/Dreier in Cairo

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 CAIRO 002517

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/2015
TAGS: OREP PREL MOPS MASS IR IS IZ SU EG
SUBJECT: CODELS PELOSI/KILPATRICK/SMITH/DREIER IN CAIRO
MARCH 20-24: MINISTER OF DEFENSE STRESSES EGYPT'S
CONTRIBUTIONS TO COMMON INTERESTS IN THE REGION

Classified by Charge Gordon Gray for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) During the week of March 20-24, Egyptian Minister of
Defense Tantawi met with 20 members of Congress and staff
from CODEL Pelosi (March 20, eight representatives), CODEL
Kilpatrick (March 23, five representatives), CODEL Smith
(March 23, one senator), and CODEL Dreier (March 24, six
representatives). Tantawi used each opportunity to emphasize
Egypt's contributions to our common interests in the Middle
East, with emphasis on Egypt's facilitation of U.S. transits
through the Suez Canal, numerous military overflights of
Egyptian airspace, training of Iraqi security personnel,
deployment of a field hospital to Afghanistan, donations of
humanitarian goods to Afghanistan and Sudan, and extensive
engagement with both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian
dispute. Tantawi also highlighted Egypt's efforts to curb
smuggling into Gaza and said Egypt and Israel were close to
an agreement on the deployment of military border guards on
the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza.

2. (C) Tantawi affirmed Egypt's appreciation for U.S.
security assistance and appealed to his guests to counter any
attempt to reduce military aid to Egypt. The presentation in
each meeting was clearly designed to provide Congress with a
different view of the Egyptian military than the MoD
anticipates will be suggested by Congressman Lantos if he
reintroduces legislation to redirect a portion of our
military aid to economic assistance (an amendment which
gained 131 votes in the House last July). Citing the
uncertainty of future developments in the Middle East,
Tantawi emphasized the importance of a strong and stable
Egypt -- complete with a credible defensive and deterrent
capability -- to U.S. interests in the region. He said
changes in U.S. assistance "would not serve stability" in the
region.

3. (C) Each CODEL received a briefing on Egypt's allocation
of Foreign Military Funding (FMF) from the United States,
which has been declining in purchasing power over the years
and is increasingly obligated to maintenance and upgrading of
U.S. equipment. The MoD emphasized its goal of maximizing
efficiency in planning how to allocate FMF dollars. With
Senator Smith, Tantawi looked forward to the day when Egypt
might no longer require this assistance, but emphasized the
need to sustain current levels of funding over the near term.
Congressional participants in these meetings acknowledged
Egypt's important role and listened carefully to Egypt's
appeal for sustained levels of FMF.

4. (C) The CODELs discussed the situation in Iraq, Smith
having visited recently and others (Pelosi and Dreier) having
plans to visit within a few days. The conversations were
positive, with hopes for establishment of a stable new
government soon in Baghdad. On Sudan, Tantawi told his
visitors that tribal conflicts and limited rainfall
highlighted a humanitarian situation that "was not a new
issue," but which needed to be addressed carefully. He noted
Egypt's contribution of humanitarian goods and military
monitors, as well as Egypt's promise to send peacekeeping
troops to southern Sudan at an appropriate juncture. Asked
about Iran, Tantawi reaffirmed the GOE desire for a WMD-free
region.

5. (U) The CODELs did not have an opportunity to clear this
message before departing Egypt.

Visit Embassy Cairo's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/cairo

You can also access this site through the
State Department's Classified SIPRNET website.

GRAY

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