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Cablegate: Abbas Received by Prime Minister in Algiers

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAS #1401 2101622
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291622Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1689
INFO RUEHXX/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ALGIERS 001401

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL LE IS AG
SUBJECT: ABBAS RECEIVED BY PRIME MINISTER IN ALGIERS

REF: ALGIERS 1373

PRIME MINISTER, NOT PRESIDENT, RECEIVES ABBAS
--------------------------------------------- -

1. (SBU) Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
followed in the footsteps of Lebanese party leader Saad
Hariri (see reftel) and made a stop in Algiers July 26 as
part of what Abbas described as a tour of Arab capitals
devoted to "bilateral discussions on next steps" to address
the situation in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon.
Prime Minister Belkhadem received Abbas and, in his public
comments after their meeting, reminded the Palestinian
President of Algeria's support for the Palestinian people,
commenting that "Algeria remained faithful to its
principles." Belkhadem's remarks, as reported in the press,
where uncharacteristically terse, perhaps because President
Bouteflika -- who would normally receive Abbas -- was
inexplicably unavailable. (Note: A source at the Presidency
told us that Bouteflika is out of the country on vacation,
information which has not been reported in the press. End
Note.) Abbas told the press the Rome Conference was a
"failure" in light of the inaction to halt immediately the
"complete and catastrophic" Israeli destruction. Abbas
underscored that the failure occurred despite the support of
European and Arab countries for an immediate cease-fire.

GOA CANCELS NORTHLAND PRESS EVENT
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) Separately, the GOA canceled the July 27 press
event scheduled aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Northland
(see reftel), and the U.S.-hosted reception aboard the vessel
that evening was sparsely attended. (Note: According to MFA
sources, the GOA was sensitive to the image of GOA officials
standing on a U.S. "naval" vessel at a time when the U.S. is
expediting the shipment of smart bombs to Israel for use in
Lebanon. End Note.) The MFA and Ministry of National
Defense (MND) were both represented, but in small numbers. A
single parliamentarian represented each major political
party. Contrary to prior notification from MFA that no one
would represent that Ministry, Director for North America
Laouari attended. Laouari remarked to PolEc Chief that the
GOA knew the current crisis would eventually pass and that it
was important not to boycott the Northland entirely.

LATEST RALLY FOR LEBANON DRAWS SMALL CROWD
------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) A rally organized by the Presidential coalition
parties and the Workers Party in solidarity with Lebanon for
late afternoon July 26 had a disappointing turnout, according
to political party sources. Our contacts reported that only
a couple of hundred people attended the rally, which had been
widely advertised. Newspaper photographs of the event in the
official daily newspaper El Moudjahid showed a largely empty
auditorium, and El Moudjahid did not report the number of
persons in attendance. The rally, at the end of a work week
during the traditional vacation period, appears not to have
generated much popular interest.

DAUGHTON

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