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Cablegate: Letter Inviting Mfa to Meet in Washington On

VZCZCXYZ0006
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #7649 3202318
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O P 162308Z NOV 07
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 5965
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS STATE 157649

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EAIR RS
SUBJECT: LETTER INVITING MFA TO MEET IN WASHINGTON ON
STATE FLIGHTS

REF: A. PATTERSON-YANG-HAWTHORNE 11/16/2007 EMAIL
B. MOSCOW 4765 AND PREVIOUS

1. This is an Action Request -- see paragraph 2.

2. Action requested: Post is requested to deliver at the
earliest opportunity the letter below inviting the MFA North
America Director Igor Neverov to a meeting in Washington to
discuss the political impact of the current impasse on State
Flights. As discussed in Ref A, Post is requested to use its
best judgment as to the efficacy of offering the last week in
November as a possible timeframe for the talks, and to advise
the Department of its decision via email to EUR/RUS desk
officer Martha Patterson. End Action Request.

3. Background: As detailed in Ref B, the Russian Federation
refuses to suspend its demand for prepayment of air
navigation fees before granting diplomatic clearance for USG
state flights. Because the agency thus far leading the
Russian side in discussions of this issue, the Federal Air
Navigation Authority (FANA), is a technical one bent solely
upon receiving payment for its services, the U.S. has been
unable to impress upon the GOR the political impact of this
new policy. To breach this impasse, the USG proposes to meet
at the political level in Washington to discuss with MFA
officials possible ways forward.

4. Begin text of Invitation Letter:

Mr. Igor Svyatoslavovich Neverov
Director, North America Department
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Moscow, Russia

November 15, 2007

Dear Mr. Neverov

We write to express our concern with the recent change in
Russian Federation policy that now makes prepayment of air
navigation fees a condition of diplomatic clearance for U.S.
official state flights. As you are already aware, the United
States position on this is long-standing: based on
international custom and practice, the United States neither
pays nor charges overflight fees, navigation fees, or parking
and landing fees at government airports for state aircraft.
This new policy will effectively prohibit most official
visitation to the Russian Federation, including important
visits by delegations of the U.S. Congress and U.S.
officials, traveling by military or other state aircraft.

Our two governments have consulted on this issue for a number
of years, seeking a mutually acceptable resolution at the
technical level. During the most recent session in Moscow on
November 1-2, however, the latest draft agreement presented
by the Federal Air Navigation Authority (FANA) made clear the
Russian Federation,s intention to continue treating this
matter as a financial dispute, which the United States can
only resolve by agreeing to pay. The United States
Government considers this position unacceptable, and
therefore rejects both the November 1, 2007, draft agreement,
as well as this exclusively technical and financial approach
to the issue. Given the possible impact this impasse could
have on our bilateral relations, this must be now discussed
at an appropriately senior political level.

With this in mind, we invite you or another appropriate
official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Washington,
D.C. at a date most convenient to you in the last week of
November or the first week of December, 2007, to discuss the
political ramifications of the situation in which we now find
ourselves. We do not intend to discuss the technical aspects
of the state flights issue at this meeting, as we feel these
issues are best left in the hands of the technical experts.
Our purpose is to explore our common political interest in a
mutually acceptable resolution.

Sincerely,

Ambassador Jackson McDonald
Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and agreements

David J. Kramer
Deputy Assistant Secretary

End Text.
RICE

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