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Cablegate: Bahrain Prepares to Send Its Ambassador To

VZCZCXRO5297
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHMK #0591 2481409
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041409Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8099
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 000591

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2028
TAGS: PREL BA IZ
SUBJECT: BAHRAIN PREPARES TO SEND ITS AMBASSADOR TO
BAGHDAD, INVITE PM MALIKI TO MANAMA

REF: A. MANAMA 00585
B. MANAMA 00541

Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1.(C) Summary: Bahrain's Ambassador to Iraq, Saleh al Maliki, is preparing to depart for Baghdad shortly. According to Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, al Maliki will carry with him a formal invitation for Iraq's Prime Minister to make an official visit to Bahrain. At 34, Ambassador Maliki is one of Bahrain's youngest and was chosen because he volunteered to serve in Iraq after most of Bahrain's most senior diplomats had refused. End summary.

2. (C) Ambassador met with Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al Khalifa on September 2 to review Iraq and other issues (Ref A). Sheikh Khalid remarked that King Hamad had the day before signed the royal decree appointing career diplomat Saleh al Maliki as Bahrain's Ambassador to Iraq. Ambassador welcomed this development and asked about the new Ambassador. The Foreign Minister recounted that he had approached all of Bahrain's senior career diplomats about going to Baghdad, following King Hamad's pledge to President Bush in January that Bahrain would return its Ambassador to Iraq. Each came up with some excuse for avoiding service and months went by without any progress. In early July, the Foreign Minister said, he received a letter from "this young guy Al Maliki," who was working in the Ministry's International Organizations Department. Al Maliki wrote that he believed the mission to Iraq was important, felt it his duty to serve his country and volunteered for the job. At about the same time, the King called Sheikh Khalid and fulminated that more than six months after saying Bahrain would send an Ambassador, nothing had happened. Sheikh Khalid explained to His Majesty the difficulties he had encountered, and mentioned young Saleh's letter. King Hamad then and there decided that al Maliki was the right man for the job.

3. (C) At this point, Saleh al Maliki joined the meeting. Soft-spoken but clearly enjoying the attention, he had just completed a series of interviews with local press. Ambassador congratulated him on his appointment and praised him for his sense of duty. Ambassador suggested that presenting the Government of Iraq with a formal invitation for an official visit to Bahrain would go down well as one of Saleh's first acts. The Foreign Minister agreed and said that, further to our discussions with King Hamad during CG Petraeus's recent visit (Ref B), Ambassador al Maliki would bring with him to Baghdad such an invitation for Prime Minister al Maliki. Among his other priorities, the Foreign Minister noted, would be opening an office in Najaf to provide assistance to Bahraini pilgrims visiting the holy sites. Saleh said that he was eager to get to Baghdad as soon as possible and the Foreign Minister noted that he would leave immediately after an audience with the King, scheduled for the week of September 14.

4. (C) Biodata: Saleh al Maliki, a Sunni, is 34 years old. He has a Qatari wife and two daughters, who live in Qatar. He joined the Foreign Ministry in 1997, soon after completing a degree in Political Science from Kuwait University. He worked for two years on the UN desk, before joining Bahrain's Mission in New York from 2000-2005. He returned to Manama in 2005 and has worked in the International Organizations Department until now. ********************************************* ******** Visit Embassy Manama's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX********************************************* ******** ERELI

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