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Cablegate: High-Level U.S. Participation for Turkish-Iraqi

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

041237Z Aug 05





E.O. 12958: N/A

This is an Action Request. See paragraph 7.

1.(SBU) Summary: The Turkish-Iraqi Business Council has
postponed its planned conference to promote business with
Iraq until June, 2006. The postponement is designed to
allow a new government to be in place in Iraq, such that
high-level members of the new government could come to the
conference in Istanbul. In a meeting with the Charge, the
Chairman of the Council requested cabinet-level
participation in the conference. Post recommends strong USG
support for the conference, given the Turkish private
sector's potential as a supplier to--and investor in--Iraq.
End Summary.

Turkish-Iraqi Business Council Calls on Charge:

2.(SBU) Ercument Aksoy, Chairman of the Turkish-Iraqi
Business Council, and several of his colleagues on the
council, came from Istanbul to meet with the Charge on July
21. The Turkish-Iraqi Council is one of a number of
bilateral business promotion council's under the umbrella of
DEIK, the Foreign Economic and Business Council. (Its
counterpart for bilateral U.S. business relations is TAIK,
the Turkish-U.S. Business Council.) Aksoy, whose wife is
Iraqi, and who has long done business with Iraq, said he is
still active there, though most Turkish businesses had to
put their activities on hold around March, 2004, when the
security situation worsened. Despite all the problems,
Aksoy said Turkish exports to Iraq reached $1.8 billion in
2004. Aksoy said business people understand it will take
time for Iraq to establish strong security forces, but
meanwhile, he wished the ITG had more business-friendly

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Conference Postponed Due to Political Calendar:

3.(SBU) The principal reason for Aksoy's visit was to seek
U.S. support for the Turkish-Iraqi Business Forum which his
Council is sponsoring. As Aksoy said in a letter requesting
the meeting, the Forum, the first of its kind between the
two countries, is intended to allow "the Iraqi private and
public sector to share their priorities, vision and
strategies for the reconstruction of Iraq. and to focus on
the prospects and opportunities of Turkish-Iraqi economic
relations and ways of promoting their development and
expansion." Aksoy said Prime Minister Erdogan is supportive
and has agreed to attend the Forum.

4.(SBU)The Council had hoped to have the conference in late
September, 2005. On the advice of the Iraqi Embassy,
however, the conference was postponed until June 16-17, 2006
both to better prepare, and to wait until the busy political
calendar in Iraq was completed and a new government was well-
established. Aksoy and his colleagues said they might be
able to move up the conference to earlier next spring,
however. To elicit the best possible response from the
Turkish and regional business communities, the Council felt
it was very important to have Iraqi ministers present who
could explain their policies and answer questions.

The Importance of U.S. Support:

5.(SBU) Aksoy stressed the importance of strong U.S.
support. He thought it would be highly desirable to have
senior USG officials responsible for Iraq policy such as
Ambassador Jones (this was prior to the announcement of
Ambassador Jones' nomination as Ambassador to Israel) but
wondered whether it might not be possible to get a cabinet-
level official. His preference, if she would consider it,
would be Secretary Rice.

Action Request: High-level U.S. Participation:

6.(SBU) Comment: In the meeting, the Charge expressed
Embassy support for the Forum. Of all of Iraq's neighbors,
Turkey probably has the most potential as a supplier and
investor, given its large, diverse manufacturing sector and
a Turkish construction companies' strong track record,
including in difficult environments in the Middle East and
Central Asia. Moreover, the Turkish business community is
one of the few constituencies in Turkey which understands
the Turkish stake in the stabilization of Iraq. End Comment.

7. (SBU) Action Request: It's still very early, but post
recommends strong USG participation in this conference.


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