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Cablegate: Forum for the Future May 10 Steering Committee

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MANAMA 000705

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ECON KMPI ECIN BA XF XG CA JA
SUBJECT: FORUM FOR THE FUTURE MAY 10 STEERING COMMITTEE
MEETING

REF: MANAMA 675

Sensitive but unclassified; please protect accordingly. Not
for Internet distribution.

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Bahrain hosted a meeting of the G8/Broader Middle
East and North Africa (BMENA) Forum for the Future (FfF)
Steering Committee May 10 that included representatives of
the U.S., UK, Russia, Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt. The
parties discussed preparations for the FfF meeting, to be
co-chaired by Bahrain and the UK on November 11-12, 2005 in
Manama, including achieving progress on G8/BMENA initiatives,
the role of civil society and business at the Forum, new
initiatives including the Foundation for the Future and Fund
for the Future, and participants. The representatives
requested a role for the BMENA process at the July G8 Summit
in Gleneagles, Scotland to highlight continued attention on
reform in the Middle East. The Arab participants emphasized
that the governments had an obligation to show their peoples
concrete results from their enhanced partnership with the G8
countries. End Summary.

------------
Participants
------------

2. (SBU) Bahraini Minister of State for Foreign
Affairs/Information Minister Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar chaired a
May 10 meeting of the G8/BMENA Forum for the Future steering
committee in Manama. Participants included:

Bahrain: Abdul Ghaffar; MFA Assistant Under Secretary for
Coordination and Follow Up Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Mubarak Al
Khalifa; MFA Director for Bilateral Affairs Ambassador Dhafer
Al Umran; Finance Ministry Director for Economic Planning
Yousuf Humood

U.S.: NEA PDAS Elizabeth Cheney; Ambassador Monroe; NEA DAS
Scott Carpenter

UK: FCO Head of Engaging with the Islamic World Group
Ambassador Frances Guy; Ambassador to Bahrain Robin Lamb; FCO
Head of Policy Team Michael Nevin

Jordan: Finance Minister Bassem Awadallah; Ambassador to
Bahrain Hussein Al Majali

Egypt: Investment Minister Mahmoud Mohieldine; Ambassador to
Bahrain Azmy Khalifa; MFA National Coordinator for
Development Initiatives in the Middle East Shabaan Mohammed
Shabaan

Russia: MFA Missions Ambassador Sergi Kerpitchinco;
Ambassador to Bahrain Yuri Antonov

Morocco: MFA General Director for Bilateral Relations Yousuf
Al Emrani; Ambassador to Bahrain Al Yazid Al Kadiri.

-----------------------------------
FfF to Focus on Reform Achievements
-----------------------------------

3. (SBU) Abdul Ghaffar opened the meeting, with media
representatives present, by explaining Bahrain's vision for
the November 11-12 FfF meeting, co-chaired by Bahrain and the
UK. He said it was an opportunity to review progress,
assess advancements, and show clear, tangible results
demonstrating the value of cooperation between BMENA and G8
countries on reform. He expressed his appreciation for G8
investment in BMENA countries, and said the G8 should now
build upon this foundation with additional assistance --
funding, resources, and know-how.

4. (SBU) Minister Awadallah echoed these ideas, saying that
"our people" expect results from the region's partnership
with the G8. The participants must show real, tangible
progress that affects regular people's lives. The FfF should
be more than just a housekeeping review of programs; there
should be additional project proposals. Switching gears,
Awadallah said that the 2004 G8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia
showcased a commitment from the top political leadership for
reform in the region. He recognized that the UK has a full
agenda for the Gleneagles Summit, but stressed that the G8
would not send the right message to the region if Middle East
reform was not discussed. Renewing focus on reform would
provide more meaning for the November FfF meeting.

--------------------------------------------- -
Pressing for BMENA Presence at G8 Summit in UK
--------------------------------------------- -

5. (SBU) NEA PDAS Cheney said there should be a high level
event at Gleneagles so that the G8 is seen to be directly
involved in reform in the Middle East. This would give the
Bahrain meeting an umbrella of global support and encourage
other European countries to contribute financially or
politically to the initiative. Bahrain, Morocco, and Egypt
all stated their support for this idea. The UK's Guy replied
that she had received the message and would convey it back to
London. (Note: Per reftel, Crown Prince Salman made the
same request in a joint meeting with all the delegations
later in the day. End Note.)

6. (SBU) Guy reviewed ongoing activities related to BMENA
initiatives. She said that the UK held a meeting of finance
ministers on the margins of the World Bank/IMF meetings in
Washington in April 2005. There will be a similar meeting on
the margins of the Bank/Fund meetings this fall. The Arab
Business Council will meet with government representatives
soon in Jordan. Jordan will host an education ministerial at
the Dead Sea after the World Economic Forum meetings in May.

---------------------------------------
Democracy and Civil Society Initiatives
---------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Guy explained action related to democracy and civil
society. Yemen, Italy, and Turkey are leading the Democracy
Assistance Dialogue (DAD) with the participation of other G8
and BMENA countries. They have teamed up with NGOs from the
three countries, most prominently with Italian organization
"No Peace Without Justice." The DAD has two major themes:
women in the political process, and political pluralism. The
governments and NGOs plan to hold meetings on these subjects
before November so they can provide a report at the FfF.

8. (SBU) She continued that the civil society dialogue is
built around four themes: transparency and anti-corruption,
led by the UK; rule of law (U.S.); women and employment
(Bahrain); and human rights (not yet assigned; UK in touch
with Qatar about taking it on). The UK envisions a series of
civil society meetings and events built around these themes
taking place in the period leading up to the FfF. At the
Forum, a few NGO representatives involved in each theme would
report progress made in these areas and issue recommendations
for government action. She said there is no need for a big
civil society meeting at the time of the FfF because NGOs
will have been involved in earlier meetings on the four
thematic areas.

9. (SBU) DAS Carpenter added that countries must be
consistent in how they deal with civil society and make clear
how they will be involved in the Forum meetings. It should
be up to the NGOs themselves to decide who will represent
them in Bahrain. Morocco's Al Emrani commented that his
country did not handle NGO representatives well at the 2004
Forum in Rabat, and suggested that the organizers include
NGOs in the planning process so there are no surprises.

-----------------------
Business To Play a Role
-----------------------

10. (SBU) Abdul Ghaffar noted that, in the context of civil
society participation at the Forum, it was important that
business play a role. At the recent Community of Democracies
conference in Chile, he had suggested that business groups
and corporations participate because economic and political
development and reform go together. In Bahrain's case, this
was particularly important because business people needed to
understand that peaceful demonstrations and rallies were part
of political openness, and investors should not run away from
emerging democracies in the developing world that permit
public expression of political views.

11. (SBU) The UK's Nevin said that the parties could adopt a
similar approach for business as that for civil society.
Business groups could hold meetings on their own and then
report their findings to the FfF. Egypt's Mohieldine stated
that the Arab Business Council had been active on economic
reform, and the Economic Research Forum had been supportive
of the Alexandria meetings on reform. The themes for
business activities could be investment and corporate
governance and, he suggested, BMENA activities could be
coordinated with the OECD, which also focuses on these
issues. Al Emrani suggested that BMENA also "build a bridge"
to the Barcelona process.

12. (SBU) Mohieldine said that the FfF should adhere
strictly to the idea of regional projects rather than single
country projects. The Forum should ensure that the efforts
and projects are sustainable, decisions are transparent, and
all participating countries have access to the initiatives.
To address sustainability, the parties should consider
creating a secretariat to promote follow up. The secretariat
does not have to be large or expensive, but would fill a need
in promoting the regional initiatives.

----------------------------------
Foundation and Fund for the Future
----------------------------------

13. (SBU) PDAS Cheney stated that the U.S. would like Forum
participants to announce two deliverables at the November
meetings. They are the Foundation for the Future and the
Fund for the Future. The Foundation would coordinate
projects on democracy, political reform, and civil society in
the region. As a result of our experience and conversations
with the UK and EU, she said, our thought is to create an
entity outside of official government donor channels which is
multilateral, has a clear mandate, and whose members of the
board of directors come from BMENA and donor countries.
Initial funding should be $60 million, of which the U.S.
would provide $35 million. The U.S. will distribute a
proposal on the structure of the Foundation and the board.
We will work with the World Bank on having a Bank official
seconded to the Foundation to work on its establishment.
Cheney stressed that the Foundation should be viewed as a
response to addressing the needs of the people of the region.

14. (SBU) The Fund for the Future would be a venture capital
fund serving as a complement to the Foundation. Its target
customers would be entrepreneurs and small business owners.
The board of the Fund would also be composed of
representatives from the BMENA and donor countries. The
participating countries would need to discuss staffing and
location of the headquarters of the Fund.

---------------------------------------
Coordinate Fund with Ongoing Activities
---------------------------------------

15. (SBU) Jordan's Awadallah said the creation of the
Foundation and Fund is extremely important and represented an
incentive for other donors to come forward. Noting that U.S.
initiatives are often misunderstood in the Middle East, he
said that parties would have to coordinate on a public
rollout to describe the mandate clearly and emphasize that it
is responding to needs in the region. Mohieldine also
expressed support for the concept of a Fund. He noted that
there were already several microfinance programs in the
region and the FfF countries should ensure that the Fund did
not duplicate efforts. He said that microfinance generally
provided lending to small and micro-enterprises and focused
on poverty alleviation. A more appropriate long term focus
for the Fund would be financing for innovation sectors that
contribute to the creation of a market-based economy.

16. (SBU) UK's Guy agreed on the need to coordinate the Fund
with other activities, and mentioned both the Network of
Funds and financing available as part of the Barcelona
process. PDAS Cheney said that there were differences
between the Fund and other projects but concurred that it
needed to be coordinated, particularly with Barcelona. She
noted that the announcement of the Foundation and the Fund at
the November Forum meetings should be done jointly between
the BMENA and G8 countries so it can be characterized as a
multilateral (vice U.S.) initiative responding to the
region's needs. Bahrain's Abdul Ghaffar stressed that the
projects should not leak to the press and should only be
revealed at the Forum meeting.

----------------------------
Participation and Communique
----------------------------

17. (SBU) Morocco's Al Emrani asked whether more than one
minister from each country should attend the Forum. Abdul
Ghaffar said that Bahrain envisioned a meeting of foreign
ministers. Awadallah recommended that each country be given
the latitude to decide which minister to send as head of
delegation, depending on the issues to be addressed.

18. (SBU) Al Emrani said that for the 2004 FfF, the
co-chairs (U.S. and Morocco) decided which countries to
invite. They had agreed it was better to have countries
inside rather than outside the BMENA initiative, and so had
invited Iran, Libya, and Syria. They did not invite Sudan,
however, because of serious policy concerns related to
Darfur. Guy said that Bahrain and the UK would sort out the
invitation list based on the principle that all should be
invited except if outstanding political issues prevented it.

19. (SBU) Mohieldine said that the participants were "lucky"
in Rabat to have been able to issue a communique at the end
of the conference. He suggested that this time the
participants prepare a draft communique ahead of time so they
could negotiate and agree on final language before the
conference.

20. (U) PDAS Cheney cleared this cable.

MONROE

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