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Cablegate: Iran, Yemen and Afghanistan: A/S Shapiro's

O 100803Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1893
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S E C R E T RIYADH 001501
STATE POL/MIL AFFAIRS FOR A/S ANDREW SHAPIRO
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/28/2019
TAGS: IR MARR MASS MOPS SA YM
SUBJECT: IRAN, YEMEN AND AFGHANISTAN: A/S SHAPIRO’S
DISCUSSION WITH DR. PRINCE TURKI, SAUDI MINISTRY OF FOREIGN
AFFAIRS
Classified By: Ambassador James B. Smith for reasons 1.4 (b, d)
1. (S) Summary: Assistant Secretary for Political-Military
Affairs Andrew Shapiro met on October 24 with Dr. Prince
Turki bin Saud Al-Kabeer, Under Secretary for Multilateral
Affairs at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador
Smith also attended the meeting. Dr. Prince Turki described
Saudi concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and asserted that
Iran is providing money and weapons to
the Houthis in Yemen while Hezbollah and Hamas have provided
training. Yemeni President Saleh needs help from others in
order to prevent his country from becoming "another
Afghanistan." Regarding Afghanistan, Dr. Turki encouraged
the U.S to work with moderate Taliban elements as an approach
to weaken Taliban unity. End Summary.
Iran: Determined to be a nuclear power
------------------------------------
2. (C) A/S Shapiro noted that Iran has given mixed signals
whether it will comply with the P5 1 proposal to turn over
low-grade Iranian uranium to Russia for further processing.
Dr. Turki responded that Iran has always been elusive about
negotiating, while continuing to process uranium. "To me,
they are determined to be a nuclear power; their problem is
how to get there."
3. (S) Dr. Turki reported that Saudi Arabia has been trying
to persuade the Iranians to spend their resources on the
welfare of the Iranian people rather than on the development
of a nuclear weapon. While Saudi Arabia would like to see
the Gulf region remain free of weapons of mass
destruction, Iran is raising anxiety and "creating conditions
that others will have to follow."
4 (S) Another thing that we tell our American friends, Dr.
Turki emphasized, is that once you start talking to Iran,
Saudi Arabia must be part of the process. We should be
consulted in advance on proposals to Iran not just so that
our national interests are taken into account, but to avoid
creating an impression in Iran that Saudi Arabia is not an
important U.S. ally.
5 (C) A/S Shapiro pointed out that both the President and
Secretary Clinton are on record that a nuclear-armed Iran is
not acceptable. The current U.S. proposal is intended to
create time for diplomatic initiatives to work. A/S Shapiro
assured Dr. Turki that the U.S. is committed to
close consultations with Saudi Arabia, and suggested in this
regard a U.S.-Saudi dialogue on regional security issues led
by Under Secretary Tausher. Dr. Turki welcomed the proposal.
Yemen: Saleh needs urgent help
-------------------------------
6 (S) Dr. Turki expressed his government’s deep concern about
the deteriorating situation in Yemen. The Iranians, he said,
are providing the Houthi with money and weapons. The Saudis
have evidence of this: "A few years ago," he said, "the
Iranian Ambassador (to Yemen) was arrested while
holding money intended for the Houthi." As evidence of
Yemeni anger over Iranian meddling, he reported that a recent
visit by the Iranian Foreign Minister to Yemen was turned
off. Dr. Turki asserted that Iranian support of the Houthi
is evident from the weapons the Houthis possess, posing the
question, "How did they manage to bring down two Yemeni
aircraft?" He said his government believes that Hezbollah
and Hamas have also provided advice and training to the
Houthi.
7. (C) Dr. Turki said that Yemeni President Al-Saleh would
like to see a peaceful solution to the Houthi fighting, but
he may no longer have that choice. Saleh needs U.S.
assistance urgently, he stressed, "otherwise you will have
another Afghanistan." A/S Shapiro agreed with Dr. Turki’s
assessment of the urgency of the situation in Yemen, and
assured that the U.S. also wants to help strengthen the
Yemeni government.
Afghanistan: U.S. should seek out Taliban moderates
--------------------------------------------- ----
8. (C) A/S Shapiro noted the importance of cutting off
funding to the Taliban, and expressed appreciation for Saudi
Arabia’s efforts to this end, noting the importance of
continuing to cooperate in this area. Dr. Turki responded
with two recommendation. First, the U.S. should seek to
build relations with Taliban moderates. These moderate
elements could in turn convince their friends to come along,
pulling them away from more extreme members. Second, the
U.S. should seek to gain the confidence and support of the
Afghani people through humanitarian assistance; Saudi Arabia
would be glad to support this effort. A/S Shapiro also
welcomed Saudi Arabia,s recent contributions for Afghan
refugees, and asked Dr. Turki if he could take a look at the
World Bank Border Trust Fund to improve security along the
AfPak border.
SMITH

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