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Cablegate: Un Department of Political Affairs Says Saudis

VZCZCXRO4996
OO RUEHROV
DE RUCNDT #0753 2331815
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201815Z AUG 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4844
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID IMMEDIATE 6319
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE 0152
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH IMMEDIATE 0006

UNCLAS USUN NEW YORK 000753

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL UNGA USUN KIRF KISL SP SA
SUBJECT: UN DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS SAYS SAUDIS
HAVE NOT FORMALLY REQUESTED UNGA SPECIAL SESSION ON RELIGION

REF: A. GLOVER/HODSON/SCHEDLBAUER E-MAILS
B. MADRID 799
C. STATE 74376
D. USUN 555

1. (SBU) UN Department of Political Affairs Asia and
Pacific Division Director Lisa Buttenheim told Poloff August
18 that Saudi Arabia has not formally requested an UNGA
Special Session on the political and religious components of
interfaith dialogue. Poloff delivered the points contained
in ref a and c to Buttenheim who had attended the World
Muslim League Inter-faith Conference, July 16-18, in Madrid.
She echoed the descriptions, contained in ref b, of the
conference, saying that it had been thrown together very
hastily but that the Saudis had pulled it off, likely because
of the fact that King Abdullah was behind it and that was why
participants had chosen to attend.

2. (SBU) Buttenheim voiced concerns about the Madrid
Conference's final document which she said was not agreed
upon by the participants even though it begins, "We, the
participants." She speculated that was why the Saudi
government had not yet sent the document to the
Secretary-General, as they had the final document of the June
Islamic Conference in Mecca. Buttenheim suggested that the
Saudis do not know what they want -- a special session or
just UN endorsement of a document. She stressed that a GA
resolution is required to call for an UNGA special session.
Neither she nor USUN is aware of any efforts by the Saudi
mission in New York to table such a resolution. Buttenheim
noted that a high-level meeting could be tagged on to an
existing agenda item in the UNGA but that would require
consultations with the President of the General Assembly
(PGA). She was not aware of any consultations by the Saudi
Mission with the PGA. Buttenheim stressed that logistically
there was no way such a high-level meeting could be held
before November, if even then.

3. (SBU) While Buttenheim noted that the Secretary-General
wants to be supportive of King Abdullah's initiative, he does
not want to own it. She suggested that maintaining King
Abdullah's initiative in the NGO sphere, through the Muslim
World League, might be the best course of action. While the
Muslim World League does have Consultative Status as a NGO in
ECOSOC, she mentioned that it is in danger of being suspended
for not submitting a required report, according to the
Committee on NGOs. If Saudi Arabia decides it does want to
formally proceed with its initiative at the UN, either
through the Muslim World League or as a member state, it
would have to justify to other member states, Buttenheim
raised, how its initiative differs from a number of
already-existing initiatives on similar subjects. For
instance, she noted that Saudi Arabia is not listed as a
Friend of the Alliance on Civilizations, while other Gulf
Cooperation Council states are part of that group.
Khalilzad

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