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Cablegate: (U) China Woos Iraqi Kurds

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

UNCLAS KIRKUK 000300

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR NEA/I, EAP/CM, INR/NESA, INR/EAP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ETRD CH IZ
SUBJECT: (U) CHINA WOOS IRAQI KURDS

(U) SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED; PROTECT ACCORDINGLY. NOT FOR
INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: China seeks better relations and trade with
Iraq's Kurdistan Region, including oil. Kurdistan is officially
autonomous, but foreign relations remain the prerogative of the
Iraqi national government, so the Kurds' dealings with China are
handled through the dominant political parties. The main oil
field in northern Iraq lies in Kirkuk province, which the Kurds
seek to incorporate into Kurdistan but is currently outside the
autonomous Kurdistan Region. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Kosrat Rasul Ali, a senior official of the Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan (PUK), briefed Regional Coordinator December
21 on his October trip to China at the head a PUK delegation.
He explained that the visit was at the invitation of the
Communist Party of China (CPC; a CPC delegation visited Iraq's
Kurdistan Region last May). Kosrat said the Chinese wanted two
things: to mend fences with Iraq and the Kurds after having
been staunch supporters of Saddam Hussein, and trade. Kosrat
claimed he had told his hosts the United States is the liberator
of Iraq and protector of democracy, and that he had urged them
not to support dictatorships (Syria and Iran). He said his
hosts heard the message but did not necessarily like it.

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3. (SBU) Another senior PUK official, Noshirwan Mustafa,
confirmed to Regional Coordinator that the Chinese were trying
to "clean their face" after their close ties to Saddam. He said
they specifically wanted "oil, telephone (i.e., a contract for a
telephone network) and trade."

4. (SBU) COMMENT: The PUK, which runs Sulaymaniyah, and the
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which runs Erbil and Dahuk,
are actively promoting trade and investment, with some success:
Kurdistan is significantly more secure than most of Iraq, and
between them, the PUK and KDP have been firmly in control of the
Kurdistan Region since the early 1990s, thanks to the protection
of the US-UK northern no-fly zone. The autonomy of the
Kurdistan Region is enshrined in both the Transitional
Administrative Law (TAL, the temporary constitution which has
been in force throughout Iraq until now) and the permanent
constitution adopted by referendum in October. However, foreign
relations remain the prerogative of Iraq's national government,
therefore the Kurds' dealings with China are handled in party
channels rather than governmental channels.

5. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED: Most intriguing is Noshirwan
Mustafa's reference to oil. The main oil field in northern Iraq
is in Kirkuk province, which the Kurds openly seek to
incorporate into Kurdistan but is currently outside the
autonomous Kurdistan Region.

BELL

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