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Cablegate: Ambassador Ware's Meeting with Finland's Minister

VZCZCXRO2275
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ
DE RUEHHE #0859 2400457
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280457Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2373
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS HELSINKI 000859

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD ECON EAID EUN PREL FI
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR WARE'S MEETING WITH FINLAND'S MINISTER
FOR FOREIGN TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT PAULA LEHTOMAKI

1. (SBU) Summary: On August 24, Ambassador Ware met with
Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paula
Lehtomaki. Lehtomaki described her August 14-16 trip to
Lebanon and Israel, noting that she was particularly
surprised by how quickly refugee centers emptied following
the announcement of the ceasefire. Ambassador stressed US
commitment to delivering on the core Doha market access
mandate and getting past the current deadlock. Lehtomaki
agreed and expressed concern that with no Doha result, there
could be a "wave of protectionism." She encouraged the U.S.
to continue reaching out to the "most protectionist among
us." Ambassador Ware and Lehtomaki also touched briefly on
Finland's aging labor market. End Summary.

---------------------------
Lehtomaki's Trip to Lebanon
---------------------------
2. (SBU) Acting on behalf of Finland's EU presidency,
Lehtomaki joined EU Commissioner for Development Louis
Michel on his trip to Lebanon to see firsthand if the
distribution of EU assistance could be made more efficient.
Arriving on the first day of the ceasefire, she said she was
surprised to see the rapid return of refugees to the south
and noted that practically all refugee centers were empty in
two days. The roads were so clogged that she and Michel
were unable to travel south.

3. (SBU) Lehtomaki agreed with the Ambassador that the
Lebanese government needed to be supported in order to
counteract the strong social support offered by Hezbollah.
Finland has offered 1.5 million euros for reconstruction
and another 600,000 euros in oil spill cleanup equipment.
Lehtomaki commented that according to Danish experts,
the oil spill situation was manageable if responded
to quickly. Lehtomaki will attend the Lebanon Donor's
Conference in Stockholm later this month.

4. (SBU) The Ambassador called on Finland, as EU President,
to speak out firmly against the unhelpful role of Iran and
Syria. Lehtomaki said that the current problem is a small
part of a larger problem and that Palestine is the real
issue. "Violence on both sides only strengthens the hate,"
Lehtomaki said. Lehtomaki expressed concern that the
humanitarian situation in Gaza not be forgotten as millions
of euros in reconstruction aid were channeled to Lebanon.

-----------------
Doha - What Next?
-----------------
5. (SBU) The Ambassador underscored the need to revive and
move the Doha market access agenda forward, noting that
global stability would not come about without market access
and that multi-lateral trade liberalization had the
potential to generate significant economic opportunities
that could lift many people out of poverty. Lehtomaki said
Finland was committed to Doha and expressed concern that a
lack of results could lead to a "wave of protectionism" and
put the credibility of the whole system in jeopardy.
Regardless of the outcome, she said, the EU planned to keep
its promises to its least developed partners. The
Ambassador noted that the private sector had an important
role to play. Lehtomaki observed that Finland had done a
lot to strengthen private sector involvement. Indeed her
own title - Minister for Foreign Trade and Development -
was the result of a parliamentary initiative to link trade
and aid.

------------------------------------
Innovation and an Aging Labor Market
------------------------------------
6. (SBU) Given Finland's reputation as a supportive
environment for innovation, Ambassador Ware expressed
interest in sharing expertise on innovation and on getting
innovative products to market. Ambassador briefed Lehtomaki
on a post-EU exchange program she is developing with
Minister for Trade and Industry Pekkarinen for Finnish and
American innovators to share information on developing and
marketing new and innovative products. Ambassador and
Lehtomaki also discussed the challenges of Finland's aging
labor force and its difficulty and perhaps reluctance in
attracting immigrant labor. Lehtomaki said that she had
taken part in budget discussions August 23 which attempted
to reconcile Finland's high unemployment rate with its lack
of available qualified labour in certain regions and
sectors.

WARE

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