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Cablegate: Kuwaiti Soccer Club Braves Match in Iraq

VZCZCXRO9058
PP RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHKU #0953 2741246
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011246Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2050
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 1163
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3999
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS KUWAIT 000953

SIPDIS

NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SOCI IZ KU
SUBJECT: KUWAITI SOCCER CLUB BRAVES MATCH IN IRAQ

REF: A. KUWAIT 562
B. KUWAIT 948

1. (U) In an overture aimed at warming the bilateral
relationship, Kuwait's "Al Kuwait Kaifan" soccer club
traveled to Erbil, Iraq, for a September 30 tournament game,
the first time a Kuwaiti team has traveled to Iraq in two
decades. Accompanying the team were prominent Kuwaiti MPs
Marzouq Al-Ghanem and Walid Al-Tabtabaie, who delivered a
letter of friendship to KRG President Barzani from Kuwaiti
Parliament Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi (Note: Al-Ghanem is the
club chairman and Al-Tabtabaie is on the club board. End
note.) Al-Ghanem, who has used his prominence in parliament
to argue for strong ties with Iraq (Ref A), told the Iraqi
press that he felt sports cooperation was a key "cementing"
factor in the bilateral relationship (for Al-Ghanem bio
notes, see Ref B).

2. (U) Al Kuwait Kaifan is the first team worldwide to brave
Iraq-hosted matches since the Asian Football Confederation
deemed the country insufficiently safe to host international
play in 2003. Earlier in the tournament, the Lebanese and
Omani soccer clubs deferred travel to Iraq for their matches
with the Erbil team, obligating the Erbil players to host
their "home" games in Jordan.

3. (U) At the sold-out match, Iraqi fans held up a large
banner reading "We welcome Al-Kuwait sports club to the
Kurdistan region. We do not care if we win or lose -- the
ultimate aim is our friendship." The Kuwaiti team won 1-0.

********************************************* *********
For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit:
visit Kuwait's Classified Website at:

http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Kuwa it
********************************************* *********
JONES

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