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Cablegate: Hmg Stresses U.S.-Uk Coordination On Afghanistan

VZCZCXRO9446
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHLO #2569/01 3201713
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161713Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3988
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 002569

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/15/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR MOPS AF PK NATO UK
SUBJECT: HMG STRESSES U.S.-UK COORDINATION ON AFGHANISTAN
STRATEGY

REF: 11/16/09 LONDON DAILY REPORT (NOTAL) Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Richard LeBaron for reasons 1.4 b and d

1. (C/NF) Summary. Karen Pierce (Protect), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Director for South Asia and Afghanistan, told the Political Minister Counselor November 16 that HMG is eagerly awaiting President Obama's decision on the way forward in Afghanistan and would appreciate as much insight as possible on when the President would announce his decision. HMG would welcome continued discussions with the U.S. about creating and empowering the most effective "structures" to work with the Afghan government, she stated. HMG seeks Washington's views on a conference in London in early January aimed at reaffirming the international consensus on Afghanistan. The UK supports close coordination and frequent consultation regarding the way forward in Afghanistan among the "Quad" (U.S, UK, France, and Germany), Pierce said. End Summary.

Allied Unity ------------

2. (C/NF) The UK favors close coordination and frequent consultation regarding the way forward in Afghanistan among the "Quad" nations, Karen Pierce (Protect), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Director for South Asia and Afghanistan, said during a November 16 discussion with the Political Minister Counselor. Pierce asserted that "taut" and "focused" discussions among U.S., UK, French and German officials would help maintain allied unity. HMG would welcome a "Quad" meeting after President Obama has announced his decision on the way forward in Afghanistan. Pierce stressed the importance of allied unity, asserting that NATO should concentrate on delivering a persuasive public message on the next phase of allied strategy. She commented that "we did not prepare the public well for Operation Panther's Claw," which she characterized as a major operation that should have been more clearly explained to the public before it was undertaken.

Linking the U.S. and UK Messages --------------------------------

3. (C/NF) Pierce observed that HMG is eagerly awaiting President Obama's decision and would appreciate as much insight as possible on when the President would announce his decision. "We need information on when the decision is coming," she underscored. The direction of allied strategy is "in a hiatus at the moment," pending the announcement of the President's decision, Pierce stated. "Once we have an announcement on our military strategy, we need to focus on a political strategy," as there remain a broad range of issues to consider, such as addressing corruption, she continued. Pierce expressed concern that "systems that are in place for keeping the Afghan government on track are not very robust." HMG would welcome continued discussions with the U.S. about creating and empowering the most effective "structures" to work with the Afghan government, she said. For example, Pierce continued, "We need to discuss civilian leadership (since) it is still not clear who the most senior civilian official (representing the international community) is in Afghanistan."

4. (C/NF) Pierce underscored the importance of linking up U.S.-UK strategies, so that "our public messages will be the same." She expressed concern that there could be a "potential gap between UK and U.S. metrics" used to measure success in Afghanistan. "We need one set of public metrics," she stressed. When asked by the Political Minister Counselor if there were areas where the U.S. and UK did not agree, she replied that it was crucial to synchronize the content of U.S. and UK public messaging. FS Miliband plans to attend President Karzai's November 19 inauguration, she said.

5. (C/NF) Thomas Burn (Protect), who covers external Pakistan political issues in the FCO, said the U.S. could play a positive role in persuading the incoming Spanish EU Presidency to "focus on Afghanistan." Pierce concurred, observing that Spain "needs to continue to support an EU-Pakistan summit." She noted that there is "much opposition" in the EU to a "formalized EU-Pakistan process," with many member states preferring an ad hoc approach.

An International Conference ---------------------------

6. (C/NF) Pierce stated that PM Brown has offered London as a venue for a conference in early January aimed at reaffirming the international consensus on Afghanistan. The LONDON 00002569 002 OF 002 conference could focus on issues such as governance and institution building, she said. HMG would welcome Washington's views on such a conference, she said.

Convincing the British Public -----------------------------

7. (C/NF) Pierce stated that Prime Minister Brown, Foreign Secretary Miliband, and Defence Secretary Ainsworth will continue their efforts to convince the British public of the strategic necessity of the UK's continued engagement in Afghanistan. All three will deliver speeches on Afghanistan the week of November 16, she stated (Ref). Brown and his top advisors want Afghanistan to "stop being a political issue." Burn observed that PM Brown has been under intense media pressure for his direction of the UK's war effort in Afghanistan. To at least some extent, the unpopularity of the war effort "is bound up in the issue of the PM's own position" in the UK, Burn opined. Pierce agreed, adding that the Conservative Party policy on Afghanistan "looks like government policy."

Comment -------

8. (C/NF) HMG sources have underscored that PM Brown is personally committed to and is overseeing the UK's engagement in Afghanistan. This is certainly reflected in his persistent effort to convince the public that Britain's combat mission is both necessary and winnable. This effort occurs against a backdrop of rising casualties and flagging public support. Total British KIA now stands at 233 ) and each fatality receives prominent media coverage. According to a ComRes/Independent poll taken November 11-12, 71 percent of respondents support "a phased withdrawal of British forces from Afghanistan, the aim being the end of combat operations within a year or so." HMG's emphasis on U.S.-UK and overall allied coordination reflects, in part, concern that any perceived differences among allies on the way forward in Afghanistan will be exploited both by PM Brown's political foes and by the increasingly vocal opposition to continued British military engagement there. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX
Susman

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