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Cablegate: Fm Aboul Gheit On Iraq

VZCZCXRO7377
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #2210 2901627
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161627Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0663
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 002210

SIPDIS

NEA FOR FO; NSC FOR PASCUAL

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV EPET IZ EG
SUBJECT: FM ABOUL GHEIT ON IRAQ

REF: A. CAIRO 2156
B. BAGHDAD 3239

Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey Reasons: 1.4 (B) and (D)
1.(C) FM Aboul Gheit discussed his visit to Iraq and preliminary plans to re-open the Egyptian embassy in Baghdad during an October 15 meeting with the Ambassador. Aboul Gheit said that his October 6 trip to Iraq was a success. In Sulaymaniyah (where he met with President Talabani), he said that he saw a secure, prosperous, clean society that had an open-minded and liberal approach to life. Aboul Gheit said that "all of Iraq should be like this," and that if this happens, "the battle in our Arab world will be won." He said that a sizeable Egyptian oil industry delegation will head to Iraq soon.

2.(C) Aboul Gheit said that the Egyptians had decided to locate the new Egyptian embassy near the American embassy due to security realities. He claimed that the Iraqis had offered the Egyptians "two beautiful villas with large plots of land" that would allow the Egyptians to have a presence "equal to that of the Americans." However, Aboul Gheit said that these properties are in need of refurbishment, and that the costs should be borne by the Iraqis, given that (according to Aboul Gheit) the GOI had refused to sell the properties to the Egyptians. He indicated that Egypt would pay rent, but expects a grace period.

3.(C) The Ambassador noted that the USG and Iraq are moving forward on status of forces (SOFA) talks. We anticipate a strong and negative Iranian response to the finalized agreement, regardless of the terms. Aboul Gheit said that Egypt would need to see the terms of the agreement. If the agreement met key Iraqi needs, such as a specific time table for withdrawl - even if in the future - and respect for Iraqi jurisdiction for criminal actions committed by U.S. personnel, he believed Egypt could be helpful. He asked when we expected the SOFA negotiations to conclude; the Ambassador said hopefully soon, and said that Arab states' support of the GOI will be critical once the SOFA agreement is finalized. SCOBEY

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