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Cablegate: Foreign Minister Spanta Rules Out Including

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBUL #3176 2810707
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 080707Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2006
INFO RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7979
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 7411
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS KABUL 003176

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

SRAP FOR MARY BETH GOODMAN AND BOB DEUTSCH
DEPT PASS USTR DEANGELIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD PREL AF PK
SUBJECT: Foreign Minister Spanta Rules out Including
Re-export Study in AF-PAK Transit Trade Agreement

REF: (A) KABUL 3102 (B) KABUL 3036 (C) KABUL 3000

1. (SBU) Summary: Foreign Minister Spanta told
Ambassadors Ricciardone and Wayne October 7 that he ruled
out including the re-export study in the Afghanistan-
Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) which is
currently being negotiated. While committed to going
ahead with the APTTA, Spanta stated the re-export issue
should be addressed separately, perhaps led by the
Interior Ministry responsible for border controls, and
not the Commerce Ministry. Spanta was aware the Pakistan
side was pressing the re-export issue and that they might
request treating the Wagah border crossing similarly in
parallel with newly constituted re-export talks. In that
eventuality, U.S. officials will need to seek flexibility
from both sides to advance the process in the coming
weeks. End summary.

2. (SBU) During an October 7 meeting with Ambassadors
Ricciardone and Wayne, Foreign Minister Spanta said the
re-export study must be separate from the APTTA talks.
It will be difficult for Afghanistan to address the issue
of re-exports, Spanta stated, many of which are off-
loaded in Pakistan before reaching Afghanistan. Since
re-exports constitute a major part of the informal
economy of Pakistan and Afghanistan and involve border
and customs issues, he suggested that the Interior
Ministry, and not the Commerce Ministry, should take a
lead in conducting those talks. Acting MFA Americas
Director Andisha added that the re-export issue might be
pursued as part of the ongoing Dubai Process with
Pakistan in concert with the Canadian government. He
noted the next meeting is slated for Kabul later in
October and there is a draft customs MOU to be
considered.

3. (SBU) Foreign Minister Spanta reiterated that he
wants to see the APTTA wrapped up by the end of 2009 and
that he is open to a separate agreement on re-exports,
which he agrees is a legitimate issue to address with
Pakistan. He said he hopes that approach would allow
Pakistan to proceed with the APTTA talks. Spanta
indicated that the Pakistan side might request treating
the Wagah border crossing issue similarly, in parallel
with the re-export talks.

4. (SBU) Comment: U.S. officials will need to seek
flexibility from both sides in the coming weeks if the
APTTA is to remain on track for signing by the end of
2009. The draft APTTA text had included language on the
Wagah border crossing issue, albeit bracketed by the
Pakistan side, because the Pakistani negotiators wanted
the re-export study to move forward, as called for in a
textual footnote in the APTTA. Given the Foreign
Minister?s approach, it seems this approach must now be
revised, since the re-export study will be dealt with
separately, possibly with different ministries in charge
of such talks. Embassy will follow up with MFA official
Andisha and others on what they see as the way ahead. We
will need to consider how we can most effectively push
both sides to move ahead. End comment.

EIKENBERRY

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