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Cablegate: Ambassador's Iftar Remarks On the Coast

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNR #4366 2840710
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110710Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4794
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 8829
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM 4887
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 4391
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS NAIROBI 004366

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SOCI PREL KISL KE
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S IFTAR REMARKS ON THE COAST

REF: NAIROBI 4334

1. The Ambassador hosted an Iftar dinner in Mombasa, Kenya's port
town and a center of its Islamic culture, on September 26 (reftel),
early in the Islamic holy month of Ramadhan. The dinner was
attended by an overflow crowd of Kenyan Muslim dignitaries,
including the Chief Khadi (judge and scholar of religious law),
prominent businessmen and women, and founders and officials of a
variety of non-governmental organizations. During a dinner marked
by warm atmospherics and a wide-ranging exchange of views, the
Ambassador delivered the well-received remarks that follow.

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Text of Iftar Remarks
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2. Peace be with you all. Good evening. I'm grateful to everyone
here for sharing with me this bountiful Iftar dinner, and for
affording me this opportunity to exchange ideas with such a
distinguished group on the shared future of the United States and
Kenya.

Tonight, I am honored to have you with me as you break the fast that
is part of the observance of the holy month of Ramadan. This month
is set apart in the Muslim faith as a time to remember in a special
way first that our existence itself is a gift that comes to us
rather than something we create for ourselves and, second, that this
visible, material world is not the total of our lives. It is a time
to remember the poor, and to draw near to God. People of all faiths
can share in these aspirations, and I share them with you.

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I have come to the Coast to listen and learn. I want to open a
dialogue with various religious and traditional leaders, including
Muslim leaders, to better understand your communities. I believe
that you here in this room are among the best people to set us on
the path to deepen the partnership between the U.S. and Kenya, which
is my goal. I do this in the firm conviction that this partnership
is mutually beneficial for our two countries.

I was formerly the U.S. Ambassador to Mali, where I became good
friends with the Grand Imams of the great mosques of Djenne and
Timbuktu. It was during that time that I first became acquainted
with Muslim culture and traditions. I was a very strong supporter
of the American efforts to helppreserve ancient Islamic manuscripts
in Timbuktu and other areas. These efforts included the "Ink Road"
project in Mali. The term "Ink Road" comes from the practice of
ancient Islamic scholars, known as "ambassadors of peace," who would
travel widely using the Koran and their skills at mediation and
arbitration to settle disputes among warring groups. Their decisions
would be documented in manuscripts that are now held in archives
worldwide. Using U.S. Government funding, we were able to mobilize
international support for the preservation of manuscripts that
document this extraordinary tradition. These efforts have helped
illuminate the important theme in Islam of promoting peace and
enlightenment.

In some small way, I hope I can emulate this tradition in my own
efforts to promote democracy and prosperity here, and to work with
Kenya to foster peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region.
But first I must learn from you and other members of Kenyan society
in order to understand the complexities and realities of this great
country. As I said in my statement before the Senate for my
confirmation as Ambassador to Kenya, it is important that democracy
in Kenya embrace the full diversity of this country, including rich
and poor, Muslims and Christians, and the array of ethnic groups.

I am looking forward to opportunities to talk with each of you as
part of what I hope will prove to be a constructive, frank, and
lasting dialogue. The people of the United States and Kenya, and
our respective governments, both benefit from this kind of dialogue.
By working to understand one another we are helping to strengthen
learning, communities, and organizations that go to the heart and
soul of what makes our countries great. I am pleased to be able to
inform you that the United States has invested millions of dollars
on the Coast to fight the scourage of HIV/AIDS, and to promote
development, good government, and education. I pledge to you that
the United States will continue its engagement on the Coast as part
of the growing U.S.-Kenyan partnership.

Ahsanteni NA Mungu AWABARIKI! (NOTE: Swahili for "thank you, and may
God bless you." END NOTE.)

HOOVER

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