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Cablegate: Spain On Support for Basrah Children's Hospital

VZCZCXRO6008
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHMD #1940 2121603
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 311603Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0411
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0082

UNCLAS MADRID 001940

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NEA OFFICE OF IRAQ ASSISTANCE FOR LAIRD TREIBER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IZ AORC KCOM SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN ON SUPPORT FOR BASRAH CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

REF: A. STATE 120959
B. MADRID 1923
C. MADRID 1832

1. This is an action request. Please see para 6.

2. Summary. FM Moratinos reaffirmed to the Ambassador on
July 27 that Spain will provide the requested funds to
support construction of the Basrah Children's Hospital.
Moratinos said Spain would provide the funds as quickly as
possible, but could not do so before September. End Summary.

3. Upon receipt of REF A, post immediately contacted Spanish
officials to relay the USG's desire to effect the transfer of
the $22 million Spanish contribution to the Basrah Children's
Hospital as quickly as possible in order to proceed with the
project. On July 25, the Embassy sent REF A details of our
suggestion that funds be transferred to the Iraq Relief and
Reconstruction Fund (IRRF), as well as an explanation as to
the urgency of our request to Javier Sancho, Chief of Staff
to FM Miguel Angel Moratinos, to the office of Deputy FM
Bernardino Leon, and to Ricardo Martinez, Director General
for Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe at the Spanish Agency
for International Cooperation (AECI). Deputy FM Leon's staff
informed the Embassy that AECI would handle the details of
the Spanish contribution to the hospital project.

4. The Embassy followed up with AECI on July 26, at which
time it emerged that Spanish funds were not available for
disbursement by September 1 to support the Basrah Children's
Hospital. AECI officials underscored Spain's commitment to
provide $22 million, as indicated by FM Moratinos, but said
it would take time to re-program funds that had already been
allocated to other projects. They also said that it AECI
needed more time to determine whether transmitting funds to
the IRRF was the correct vehicle for making the money
available for the hospital project. Post contacted FM
Moratinos' office and Deputy FM Leon's staff to relay this
information and to indicate that the Ambassador planned to
raise the issue with FM Moratinos in a previously-scheduled
meeting on July 27.

5. In discussing the issue with Moratinos, the Ambassador
stressed that the USG was grateful for Spain's generous
contribution to the Basrah Children's Hospital and gave
Moratinos a copy of the letter from First Lady Laura Bush
thanking him for his support of the project (REF B).
Moratinos noted that he had spoken with President Zapatero
regarding Spain's contribution and that Zapatero had given
his backing to the initiative. However, Moratinos added that
it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Spain to
provide the funds by September and that it would be later in
the year before the $22 million could be transferred. He
reaffirmed Spain's commitment to provide the funds as
promised. (NOTE: Javier Sancho, Moratinos' Chief of Staff,
told us after the meeting that Moratinos was pushing the
appropriate Spanish agencies to move quickly, but that the
$22 million was simply not available at the moment).

//COMMENT AND ACTION REQUEST//

6. The day after the Ambassador's meeting with Moratinos,
negative media stories regarding the Basrah hospital project
circulated in the international press, including one story in
the New York Times indicating that Spain could become
involved in supporting the project. In order to help the
Spanish Government deal with possible domestic
political/media criticism as it moves forward, we request
that all relevant programatic information regarding the
Basrah Children's Hospital be sent to Embassy Madrid so that
we can transmit it to the MFA. We could send this
information to the MFA under the cover of a note verbale, to
include a formal request that Spain fill the $22 million
needed for completion of the project. This would both help
move the project through AECI and help the Spanish Government
answer any questions that may be raised regarding the Basrah
Children's Hospital.
AGUIRRE

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