Cablegate: Who: Ambassador's Meetings with Who
DE RUEHGV #1886 2151534
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031534Z AUG 06
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0597
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0188
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5366
RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI 2934
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0284
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 0527
RUEHRK/AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK 0048
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6202
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1545
UNCLAS GENEVA 001886
DEPT FOR G, IO, OES/IHA
PASS TO HHS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC TBIO WHO
SUBJECT: WHO: AMBASSADOR'S MEETINGS WITH WHO
1. Summary. Ambassador Tichenor met July 26, 2006, with Dr.
Shigeru Omi of Japan and July 27, 2006, with Mr. David
Gunnarsson of Iceland, both of whom are candidates to be
Director-General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Omi stressed his technical, management and political skills,
promising to finish the agenda of the late WHO DG Jong-wook
Lee. Gunnarsson, protesting he is not a "Nordic" candidate,
stressed his public health experience in Iceland and his
service as Chair of the WHO Executive Board in 2004-2005.
Ambassador Tichenor welcomed both candidatures, while
emphasizing that before reaching a decision on whom to
support, the United States would meet with all the candidates
to assess how closely their vision for WHO aligns with U.S.
policy and priorities. End summary.
Dr. Shigeru Omi
2. Dr. Omi has taken a leave of absence from his position as
Director of the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific,
in Manila. He told Ambassador Tichenor he has been traveling
widely and has received positive indications of support from
officials in Africa, the Middle East and "some" in Asia.
Emphasizing his track record as a leader, and pointing to his
17 years of service with WHO, he cited his work on SARS and
avian influenza as areas where he has demonstrated technical
and political leadership.
3. Omi described his goals as completing the agenda of the
former WHO Director-General, the late Dr. Jong-wook Lee;
implementing World Health Assembly resolutions and delivering
on the commitments therein; maintaining a constant dialogue
with Member States; and using his technical skill, management
ability, and political acumen to deliver results.
4. Responding to a question on whether or not he saw as an
obstacle the fact that Japan already held the position of WHO
DG for ten years, Omi noted the lack of the principle of
geographical rotation at WHO and said he was running on merit
and experience. In closing, Omi asked for U.S. support and
U.S. influence with the WHO Executive Board members from
Afghanistan and Iraq on his behalf. Omi plans to travel to
Washington Aug. 24-25 and hopes to meet with IO Assistant
Secretary Silverberg and HHS Secretary Leavitt.
5. Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, Japanese PermRep in Geneva,
and Dr. Yojirou Sato, Deputy Director, Ministry of Health,
Labour and Welfare, accompanied Omi.
Mr. David Gunnarsson
6. Noting the entry into the race of Dr. Margaret Chan of
China, Gunnarsson described his candidacy as one of "David
and Goliath." Acknowledging that he is not a physician,
which could hurt his chances, Gunnarsson also said he was not
a "Nordic" candidate - an obvious bow to the fact that both
Denmark and Norway have held the WHO DG position and that
there is also a Finnish candidate in the race this time.
Gunnarsson said he had not been interested in the race
initially, but several Executive Board members had encouraged
him to run.
7. Gunnarsson said he had backed Dr. Lee and would continue
his agenda, while also focusing on UN reform, implementation
of the International Health Regulations, and achievement of
the UN Millennium Development Goals. Turning to the subject
of avian influenza, he cited the major challenges as
transparency of reporting, compensation for farmers, and
8. Gunnarsson was vague about his plans to visit Washington.
Ambassador Kristinn Arnason, Iceland's PermRep in Geneva,