Cablegate: Egypt and the Iaea General Conference
DE RUEHEG #1842 2671214
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241214Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3694
INFO RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 1954
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0309
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 0152
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 001842
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/24/2019
TAGS: PREL KNNP PARM EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT AND THE IAEA GENERAL CONFERENCE
REF: A. VIENNA 437 B. VIENNA 438 C. CAIRO 1743 D. CAIRO 1804 Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) Embassy Cairo commends the efforts of US Mission Vienna to engage Egypt and Israel on the Middle East Safeguards (MES) text at the IAEA GC meetings in Vienna, described in ref a and b, and the positive outcome achieved on that resolution. We believe it represents in part a new approach from the GoE in the wake of President Obama's Cairo speech and our developing Strategic Dialogue with Egypt to deal with a series of difficult and complex multilateral and regional issues in partnership with a U.S. President who has won the confidence and admiration of Egyptians across the spectrum from cab drivers to President Mubarak alike.
2. (C) That new sense of partnership is paying dividends in the Human Rights Council, where a carefully planned and negotiated U.S.-Egyptian joint approach is pushing forward a Freedom of Expression resolution that bridges old East-West divides. It has also been seen in Sudan, where in recent months the U.S. and Egypt have worked closely to coordinate efforts to address that complex set of problems. And it continues to be seen in our close coordination with Egypt on Senator Mitchell's efforts to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
3. (C) What has changed, in the Egyptian point of view, is a new willingness on the U.S. side to listen and engage directly on Egyptian positions and interests, taking these interests at face value, and treating them as partners rather than an audience. Further, Egypt has sensed itself boxed in regionally, between an intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a perception of growing Iranian power and ambition, and opaque and unpredictable Gulf monarchies flush with oil money. In this environment, Egypt's partnership with the United States takes on added importance.
4. (C) Egypt takes great pride in its role as a regional leader and among the non-aligned movement. Egyptian diplomats, along with Israel's, are the most active, well-prepared, and engaged in the region, even as Egypt's relative economic, political, and cultural power have declined. While Egypt remains an influential voice in regional groupings like the Arab League, it can rarely deliver the rest of the Arab countries on tough issues on its own, and must operate in a tricky consensus environment.
5. (C) Egyptian positions on Israeli nuclear issues have been entrenched for years and come laden with historical baggage that makes substantive movement difficult. The GoE believes its positions are principled, clear, and consistent. However, over the last weeks and months Egypt has shown a new willingness put those positions on the table and address them seriously with the U.S. if the U.S. shows a reciprocal readiness to bargain substantively on their content.
6. (C) In the case of the IAEA GC in Vienna, the GoE at senior levels made clear throughout that they were ready to engage us on the resolution text and seek common ground (ref c, d). U.S. Mission Vienna and Department properly seized on that willingness to negotiate a consensus MES text. The fact that Egypt did not then deliver an 11th hour check on the broadly supported Arab League INC resolution should not detract from what was accomplished. It leaves a solid foundation to build on heading into the NPT review next year, and the next IAEA GC as well.
7. (C) We believe the Egyptian dismay over the eventual U.S. abstention is largely feigned. They are pleased with the engagement and for the most part with the outcome. We agree with US Mission Vienna that engagement on shifting the Arab approach for the next GC should begin immediately (ref a). However, at this point the focus should be on the future and how to reach a constructive outcome rather than assigning blame for this year's INC. We also believe that we should seize on the outcome in Vienna to begin immediately to engage Egypt on an acceptable NPT review strategy, enlisting them to the extent possible as an ally in this effort. Scobey