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Cablegate: Costa Rica Reestablishing Ties to Arab World; Also

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #2263/01 2871032
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141032Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6326
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0006
RUEHKU/AMEMBASSY KUWAIT PRIORITY 0006
RUEHMK/AMEMBASSY MANAMA PRIORITY 0003
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0111
RUEHYN/AMEMBASSY SANAA PRIORITY 0009
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE PRIORITY 0053
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 0006

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 002263

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN, NEA, SA, AND EAP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL XF BA EG KU YMCS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA REESTABLISHING TIES TO ARAB WORLD; ALSO
OPENING EMBASSIES IN INDIA AND SINGAPORE

REF: A. SAN JOSE 1841

B. SAN JOSE 1154

1. SUMMARY: Costa Rica has restored diplomatic relations
with Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen, following its decision
to move its embassy in Israel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
The GOCR also plans to open embassies in India and Singapore.
The GOCR will use these newly-expanded ties to seek
additional support for its election to the UNSC in 2008, one
of the Arias Administration,s top foreign policy priorities.
END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ------------
ARIAS SEEKS EXPANDED ROLE FOR COSTA RICA IN WORLD AFFAIRS
--------------------------------------------- ------------

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2. Egypt and Costa Rica announced restoration of diplomatic
relations at the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Havana on
September 13. While in New York for the UN General Assembly,
Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno announced on
September 25 that Costa Rica also would reestablish
diplomatic relations with Kuwait, Bahrain, and Yemen. While
Stagno met with the Syrian foreign minister in New York, he
added that they were not yet discussing reestablishing
diplomatic relations, but would define their relationship in
the near future. On October 2, Stagno announced that the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) planned to open embassies
in Egypt, India, and Singapore in 2007.

3. The restoration of diplomatic relations with the Arab
world was triggered by Costa Rica's August 16 announcement
that it would move its embassy in Israel from Jerusalem to
Tel Aviv (reftel A, NOTAL). In 1984, the Arab League asked
members to sever diplomatic relations with Costa Rica because
of then President Monge,s decision to move the embassy to
Jerusalem. According to media reports, Stagno told the
Kuwaiti vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs at UNGA that Costa
Rica,s major motivation to improve relations with the Arab
world is to promote trade and attract foreign investment from
the Middle East.

4. Minister Stagno presented the government,s plan to
finance the new embassies during a hearing with the
legislature,s finance committee on September 29. The MFA
plans to close its embassy in Barbados and a consulate in New
Orleans. In addition, the MFA is seeking a 14% increase in
its 2007 budget over 2006. Besides new embassies, some of
the extra money is slated for MFA officials to tour Asia and
Africa to promote Costa Rica's UNSC bid. Additional personnel
costs would not be high, since diplomats would be reassigned
to staff the new missions.

5. During the hearing, Stagno presented his ministry,s
foreign policy priorities, which include, in addition to
closer relations with the Arab world:

-- improving the &international order,8 (e.g., UN reform);
-- promoting major multilateral initiatives such as the Costa
Rican Consensus (i.e., debt forgiveness and additional
assistance for countries that demilitarize) and an
international conventional arms transfer treaty (ATT); and
)- being elected to the UNSC in 2008.


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COMMENT
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6. While the Arias administration would certainly welcome
foreign investment from, and increased trade with, the Arab
world, the 2008 UNSC seat is also very important (Ref B).
The additional embassies and the UNSC campaign will be
costly, especially given the current fiscal situation in
Costa Rica. Stagno told the committee that it could cost as
much as $6000/month to rent embassy space in Singapore, for
example, while two MFA advisers confided to us on October 12
that it would be difficult to find Costa Rican diplomats who
spoke Arabic. The Arias administration is willing to make
this effort in order to maintain a place on the world stage.
By starting the process now, the GOCR clearly intends to have
the new missions in place in time to seek support from Arab

nations and others before the 2008 UNSC elections next
October.
FRISBIE

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