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Cablegate: Colombo Plan November Session Readout: Usa Takes

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RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1324
RUEHNA/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001060

SIPDIS

STATE FOR IO/MPR/EA, IO/GS, AND INL/C

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: APER AORC ECON KUNR UN CE
SUBJECT: COLOMBO PLAN NOVEMBER SESSION READOUT: USA TAKES
PRESIDENCY

REF: COLOMBO 631

COLOMBO 00001060 001.2 OF 002


1. SUMMARY: At the 266th session of the Colombo Plan Council
held November 19, the United States took over the one-year
rotating Presidency held most recently by Thailand. The
minutes from the 265th session were adopted and council
members focused on the upcoming 42nd Consultative Committee
Meeting (CCM) which India will host February 10-11, 2010.
The Colombo Plan Staff College (CPSC) presented its 2007/8
and 2008/9 annual reports to the Council. END SUMMARY.

2. In comparison with recent meetings, the 266th session ran
smoothly with very few interventions (reftel). Minutes from
the previous session were adopted without discussion and
included an amendment, previously circulated, from the
Philippines. The draft agenda for February's CCM in India
did raise a number of questions. Colombo Plan Secretary
General Patricia Yoon-Moi Chia responded to a question from
the Philippine representative regarding the role of the
Council President at the CCM. Chia noted that the host
country will nominate a Chairman and Secretary General from
India to run the CCM and indicated that the Council President
will not have an unduly burdensome role to play. Bangladesh
questioned the role of observers, to which Chia responded
that at the last CCM, UNICEF, UNESCO, and UNDP gave an
overview of their regional cooperation programs. Observer
countries, however, do not traditionally make statements.

3. Director General Shyamal Majumdar from the CPSC then gave
a brief presentation on the annual reports for the college.
He emphasized growth -- 64 programs benefitting 2468 trainees
in the past year -- a 118 percent increase. The CPSC is also
developing a number of online courses and partnering with UN
agencies to broaden the number of people reachable throughout
the Colombo Plan region. He also requested that the CPSC be
included as an agenda item at the CCM. Following the DG's
presentation the annual reports were accepted and submitted.

4. Thereafter, Thai Ambassador and outgoing Council President
Kanasuta called the election for the presidency. As
expected, High Commissioner Gilani of Pakistan nominated U.S.
Ambassador Butenis. Kanasuta made some brief comments of
thanks before turning the chair over to Ambassador Butenis.
The Ambassador noted the cooperative regional development
aspects of the Colombo Plan and urged the Secretariat to
examine opportunities to provide additional assistance to the
Maldives. The Ambassador then listed the countries who will
participate in the new Standing Committee on Administrative
and Financial Matters for FY 2009/10. Those include the
U.S., Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
Australia is also expected to participate, but its
representative is awaiting final instructions from Canberra.

5. Before concluding the meeting, the Japanese representative
questioned the cost of the newly occupied Colombo Plan
building (located at 31 Wirerama Road, Colombo 7). The
SecGen explained that the approved budget for the office
space was 600,000 Sri Lanka Rupees (SLR) a month. The lease
agreement is for 500,000 SLR a month, and the government of
Sri Lanka has agreed to pay for 50 percent of this cost, so
the Colombo Plan is actually paying less for rent now than in
the old office space. The rent will not go up for five years.

6. The Minutes of the 265th session and the draft agenda for

COLOMBO 00001060 002.2 OF 002


the CCM have been forwarded via email to Greg Stanton and
Thom Browne in INL, and Tony Hendon and Lisa Spratt in IO.
The 267th session of the Colombo Plan Council is scheduled
for January 20, 2010.

7. BACKGROUND: The Colombo Plan is a regional cooperation
organization established in 1951. Member countries include
Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma,
Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Laos,
Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan,
Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka,
Thailand, the U.S.A. and Vietnam. The four permanent
programs focus on public administration and environment,
private sector development, long-term fellowship
opportunities, and the drug advisory program. The Colombo
Plan promotes economic and social development, technical
cooperation, information sharing and capacity building, and
technology transfer among the member countries. Please
contact EconOff Ken Kero-Mentz with any questions.
FOWLER

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