Cablegate: Dubai Process: Slow and Steady Cooperation Between

DE RUEHBUL #3995/01 3470924




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: Kabul 3814

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1. (SBU) Summary: The sixth round of the Canadian-led Dubai Process
meeting November 24-25 brought together Afghan and Pakistani
technical level delegates to discuss cooperation on counter
narcotics, law enforcement, customs and movement of people.
Discussions focused mostly on updates and fine-tuning of existing
projects, although the two countries progressed on a cooperative
framework for quarterly meetings between civilian border
authorities. Major donor projects underway to support the Dubai
process include a pilot program by the United Nations Office of
Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on border liaison offices, the International
Organization of Migration (IOM) biometric program for pedestrians at
the Torkham Gate border crossing and USAID's Trade and Accession
Facilitation for Afghanistan program to support custom's capacity
building. Unresolved disputes from the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit
Trade Agreement (APTTA) negotiations, just prior to the Dubai
meetings, crept into the discussions, but the Canadian chair brought
delegates back on track. Dubai's success springs from its
conception as an informal, working level and apolitical discussion.
End Summary.

2. (U) The Canadian-led Dubai Process meeting took place in Kabul,
November 24-25, 2009, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with
meetings of four working groups: Counter Narcotics, Law Enforcement,
Customs and Movement of People. In addition to the Afghan and
Pakistan Delegations, representatives from the World Bank, the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the International
Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Assistance
Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the UK Embassy, and the U.S.
Embassies in Kabul and Islamabad participated. The next meeting of
the Dubai Process will take place with a high-level meeting in the
first quarter of 2010.

Counter Narcotics and Law Enforcement

3. (SBU) In the Counter Narcotics (CN) and Law Enforcement (LE)
working groups, UNODC reps from both sides of the border briefed on
their efforts to encourage cooperation between Afghanistan and
Pakistan and on the desire to establish a narcotics border liaison
office (BLO) at Torkham Gate. In addition, on counter narcotics,
UNODC will help the Afghans and Pakistanis develop information
exchange mechanisms, engage in joint exercises, and combat shipments
of precursors. On law enforcement, UNODC will help create real-time
information exchanges, set up joint training, and design procedures
for cooperation. UNODC is also looking at training and equipping
for precursor and drug smuggling detection. (Note: Embassy Kabul CN
and LE agencies and sections will meet with UNODC to ensure clarity
and coordination. End Note)

4. (SBU) Although the Afghans, with the help of the UNODC, had
prepared a draft MOU specifying cooperation in these two areas, the
Pakistanis proposed that the 2004 MOU signed by both Ministers of
Interior would be a sufficient framework for specific cooperation in
CN and LE. The Afghans agreed to review the 2004 MOU to see if, in
their opinion, it could serve as a framework.

5. (SBU) The two delegations also agreed to seek more frequent
interaction by local civil administration officials deployed in
border areas for information exchange and joint activities. The GOP
team mentioned its successful model with Iran under which civilian
border authorities meet on a quarterly basis to discuss problems and
successful resolutions of issues.

Customs: Strengthening Border Monitoring Through
Infrastructure, Training and Improved Coordination
--------------------------------------------- -----

6. (SBU) Embassy Kabul's Border Management Task Force (BMTF)
briefed the group on the status of property acquisition at the
Weesh-Chaman border crossing. After some confusion about the
location and amount of land needed to construct the customs site,
agreement was reached on the location and amount of land. Next
step: President Karzai must issue a decree transferring the land
from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Finance, which
is expected before the end of 2009. Embassy Kabul's BMTF
representative also quickly updated the group on progress on the
Afghan National Customs Academy. Although this is an Afghan-only
institution, it sparked discussion about joint training ventures
between the Pakistani and Afghan Customs agencies.

7. (SBU) The Pakistani delegation had previously presented the
Afghans with a draft bilateral customs agreement. However, both
delegations agreed to await the conclusion of the
Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) before moving
forward with the bilateral customs agreement. In the meantime they
will review the World Customs Organization's template for bilateral

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customs agreements provided by the World Bank.

Afghan Customs Seeking Streamlining of Procedures
and Anti-Corruption Capacity Building
--------------------------------------------- -----

8. (SBU) USAID explained its Trade and Accession Facilitation
Afghanistan (TAFA) program's three elements: trade policy
liberalization, trade facilitation and customs reform, and public
outreach on trade issues. Both delegations requested education
seminars for traders, brokers, and businessmen, including an
overview of Afghanistan-Pakistan procedures, laws and regulations,
and how-to's on compliance. The Pakistani delegation believed it
necessary to find ways to bridge the language barriers among the
Dari, Pashto, Urdu and English speaking stakeholders.

9. (SBU) In a separate conversation on the margins of the
conference, senior Afghan Customs officials requested that TAFA
technical advisors devise ways to streamline trade documentation,
such as electronic forms, creating a database and improving Custom's
staff processing skills. They strongly requested TAFA to focus on
stemming corruption in the Customs authority by developing an
anti-corruption strategy, a work plan for implementation, and
assistance for monitoring and reporting.

Moving People with Biometrics

10. (SBU) Under the Dubai Process, the IOM has been charged with
assessing biometrics capacity and needs on the Afghan side and
reviewing the current biometrics system in place in Pakistan. The
Afghan assessment is being finalized, and the IOM has begun the
review of Pakistani system. IOM emphasized the need for
compatibility between the two systems. The pilot biometrics
operation, still in the design phase, is slated to be conducted at
the Torkham Gate Border Crossing Point which has pedestrian traffic
of approximately 24,000 people daily. Under the IOM program, day
travelers would be provided with biometric ID cards. Afghanistan
would like the pilot project to also include commercial trucker
traffic as a test group. ID and Passport reader equipment would be
provided as part of the pilot project. Canada announced it would
fund two Afghan and two Pakistani Customs officials to attend an IOM
biometrics training seminar in Bangkok in January 2010. In
addition, Canada is considering funding participation of up to five
or six participants from each country.

APTTA and DUBAI Crossovers Inevitable but
not Always Productive

11. (SBU) The meetings were sidetracked frequently as both sides
argued over the name for the territorial division between
Afghanistan and Pakistan, i.e. the "Durand Line" or "border,"
respectively. Since the Afghans do not recognize this as a "border"
they insist on using the term, "legal crossing point," while the
Pakistanis insist on using the term, "border crossing point." This
issue is one of the sticking points in the Afghanistan-Pakistan
Transit Trade Agreement negotiations, the last round of which
occurred the two days prior to these Dubai Process negotiations.
There is some overlap between the countries' negotiating teams, and
language in the technical level Dubai Process had migrated to the
APTTA discussions, much to the dismay of the GOP. Both delegations
repeatedly raised the APTTA "re-export" study which will look at
cross border trade that evades appropriate customs duties in either
or both countries. The Canadian chair brought the delegations back
into line and remonstrated against trying to refight APTTA in the
Dubai Process.

12. (SBU) Comment: The Dubai Process has produced results thus far
because it is informal, working level, and apolitical, according to
our Canadian interlocutor. As this round followed the APTTA
negotiating round so closely, APTTA politics crept into the
discussion, forcing the Canadians to reduce heightened
sensitivities. She said, however, that the Canadians accompanying
the process were divided on whether there was slow and steady
progress at this round or status quo, but with relationship
building. End Comment.


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