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Cablegate: Meeting of the Committee On Relations with The

VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUCNDT #0582/01 1981148
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171148Z JUL 07
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2276
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0313
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0358
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 1501
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0807
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0619
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0996
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1780
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHDC
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0191

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000582

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

IO/UNP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OFDP UN CVIS SY
SUBJECT: MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE ON RELATIONS WITH THE
HOST COUNTRY 9 JULY 2007

REF: A. STATE 94528
B. DAMASCUS 00650

1. Summary. On July 9, 2007 the Committee on Relations with
the Host Country convened its 233rd meeting to address, inter
alia, Host Country travel regulations, acceleration of
immigration and customs procedures, and entry visas issued by
the Host Country. Briefly mentioned were New York,s
congestion pricing plan and the recent U.S. Supreme Court
decision confirming that New York courts have jurisdiction in
cases involving New York,s attempt to tax foreign states,
real property containing the staff residences of UN Missions.
Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, the Russian Federation and
Venezuela took the floor to characterize both U.S.
delays/non-issuance of visas to foreign officials coming to
the UN and U.S.imposed travel restrictions on nationals from
certain UN Missions and the Secretariat as provocative,
unjust, discriminatory, in contravention of international
practice, and as violating the UN Headquarters Agreement, the
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and other relevant
international legal instruments to which the U.S. is a party.
The U.S. responded to each allegation based on the facts of
each example raised in regard to visa issuances and travel
restrictions, but did not engage substantively regarding
congestion pricing or real property taxation. End summary.

Host Country Travel Regulations


2. Cuba, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela expressed deep concern
that the Host Country has unjustly denied travel to their
government officials for UN meetings. They argued that such
restrictions are discriminatory, politically motivated, and
that these limitations violate the Vienna Convention and the
U.S. UN Headquarters Agreement. Such restrictions, they
argued, put these countries at a significant disadvantage in
fulfilling their diplomatic duties. USUN's MinCounselor
Graham assured the committee that the U.S. considers all
travel requests seriously and on an individual basis, noting
that the Host Country has an obligation to allow unimpeded
travel to and from the UN Headquarters District for official
United Nations meetings, which the U.S. has fulfilled and
will continue to do so.

Acceleration of Immigration and Customs Procedures


3. Syria, Russia, Venezuela and others expressed their
extreme, ongoing displeasure with officials at New York area
airports subjecting their diplomats and family members to
intrusive and excessive additional security screening upon
departure. The delegates acknowledged the need for security
measures, but questioned the randomness of the screening as
the same people continue to be selected for secondary
screening. Cuba and the Russian Federation asked that the
Host Country comply with UN Resolution 61/41 Paragraph 2 that
calls upon the Host Country to train its security and
immigration officers at airports regarding the privileges and
immunities extended to diplomats.

4. Describing a particularly egregious incident, the Syrian
Permanent Representative (PermRep) stated that his wife and
two twelve year old children went through normal security
procedure and were allowed to board the airplane with no
problems. Once on the plane, however, they were subjected to
physical inspections in front of passengers and crew without
apparent reason, unnecessarily frightening his family and
other travelers. Additionally, while most of their luggage
arrived after a 10 day delay (some of it is still missing),
it was returned in poor condition, with clothes appearing to
have been torn by a sharp instrument and stained with
chemicals, perhaps from tests conducted on them. Syria
believes the actions to be irresponsible and disrespectful,
but the PermRep noted that the American Embassy in Damascus
had apologized. USUN's MinCounselor Graham conveyed his
personal apology, indicated that the U.S. would investigate
the matter further, and asked the Syrian Arab Republic to
provide the details in writing, as until now, the United
States Mission was unaware of the damage done to the luggage
or its contents.


5. The United States also informed the Committee that if
diplomats accredited to the United Nations present, together
with their boarding pass, their diplomatic passport and their
blue-bordered, State Department issued ID card, to the
supervisor at secondary screening at the beginning of the
secondary screening process, they should be able to avoid the
problems they have encountered previously. MinCounselor
Graham noted that security screeners and relevant authorities
at New York area airports would soon be informed and briefed
on the procedure.

Entry Visas Issued by the Host Country


6. Sudan, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran, and Venezuela claimed to
have experienced unacceptable delays in their officials being
issued visas or being denied visas to come to the UN, noting
that, often, visas are not approved in time for the officials
to attend their intended meetings. The delegates sought to
remind the United States of its obligations under the
Headquarters Agreements, and as a result, asked the Host
Country to take appropriate measures to keep delays in visa
issuance from recurring. The United States stressed that it
has worked closely with missions experiencing such delays in
order to expedite the necessary visa issuances, and would do
so for any mission with similar concerns. However, the only
way the U.S. Mission can help is if it is alerted to delays
immediately, and not after the fact.

Congestion Pricing, Taxing UN Missions' Staff Residences,
UN Fire Code Violations, Parking Program Implementation Review

7. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Russia sought clarification on
how their missions will be affected by the "congestion tax"
plan put forward by NYC Mayor Bloomberg. They also asked for
the United States Mission's views. The U.S. noted that the
plan at present calls for congestion pricing rather than a
congestion tax, and that since it had not been approved by
the NY State Assembly, their discussion of the issue was
premature. The Chair requested that New York City officials
(also attending the meeting - NYC Commissioner for the United
Nations, Consular Corps, and Protocol) keep the Committee
informed of any further developments.

8. India, although not expecting a substantive reply at the
meeting, asked the Host Country to give its views regarding
the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding NYC's effort
to tax diplomatic property of UN Missions in New York City,
and expressed the hope that the Host Country would have a
role in aiding the missions.

9. The Chair briefed the Committee on a meeting of June 28,
2007 at which NYC Commissioner for the United Nations,
Consular Corps and Protocol, Majorie Tiven, and her deputy,
Brad Billet, spoke to the Committee's Bureau about safety and
security at the United Nations, specifically fire safety.
The Chair noted that the Secretariat has corrected many of
the outstanding fire code violations; however, the Capital
Master Plan will address some of those still remaining. The
City is especially concerned , prompting the Chair to work
with the Secretariat and New York City to resolve the matter.

10. The Chair noted that regarding the recently concluded
second review of the implementation of the New York
Diplomatic Parking Program, the Chair had requested modifying
proposals by a date certain, and having received none,
regarded the agenda item as concluded.
KHALILZAD

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