Cablegate: Foreign Minister, Codel Wasserman-Schultz Discuss

DE RUEHEG #0066/01 0121241
R 121241Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000066



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2030
REF: A. 09 CAIRO 2350 B. 09 CAIRO 2283 Classified By: DCM Matthew H. Tueller for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1.KEY POINTS -- (C) In a January 3 meeting with Codel Wasserman-Schultz, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit noted Egyptian efforts to re-start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. -- (C) Aboul Gheit said the international community needs to convince Iran that developing a nuclear capability is not in Tehran's interest. He called for the 2010 NPT Revcon to support a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. -- (C) Aboul Gheit cautioned that socio-economic development in Afghanistan would take time, and expressed concern over sectarian violence in Iraq. -- (C) He feared that Al-Qaeda is gaining ground in Africa, and said Egypt is sending moderate clerics to the region to counter the proliferation of extremist ideologies.

2.(U) On January 3, Codel Wasserman-Schultz (Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz D-FL, Rep. Anthony Weiner D-NY, Rep. Gerry Connelly D-VA, Rep. Adrian Smith R-NE, Rep. Robert Aderholt R-AL, Rep. James Matheson R-UT, Rep. Cynthia Lummis R-WY, and Rep. Christopher Murray D-CT) met with Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. The Foreign Minister was joined by Assistant Minister of North American Affairs Hisham Zumeidi, Deputy Assistant Minister for Human Rights Wael Aboulmagd, Deputy Assistant Minister for North American Affairs Amin Melleka, MFA Spokesman Hossam Zaki, Chairman of the Peoples' Assembly Foreign Relations Committee Mustafa El-Fikki and other MFA officials. ----------------- Middle East Peace -----------------

3.(C) The Foreign Minister said Israel's 10-month settlement suspension, as opposed to a full settlement moratorium, made it very difficult for the Palestinians to re-enter negotiations. He noted that Prime Minister Netanyahu's late December visit to Egypt focused on discussing ways to resolve the current impasse, and that the GOE would continue working to move the issue forward during Palestinian President Abbas' January 4 visit to Egypt, and the Foreign Minister's own trip to Washington January 7. The Minister believed there would be an opportunity for the Israelis and Palestinians to examine each other's positions before entering into negotiations. Aboul Gheit stressed the need to isolate Hamas as a minority by offering the Palestinians a peace settlement. ----- Iran -----

4.(C) Aboul Gheit described Iran as engaging in "activist, revolutionary behavior to change the region." To this end, he asserted , Iran is trying to acquire a nuclear capacity. The Minister doubted Iran is pursuing a nuclear device, but rather wants to attain the capacity to build a nuclear weapon within a six-month time period. According to Aboul Gheit, sanctions will play a role in combating Iran's nuclear ambitions, but will not be "decisive." "Iran needs to be convinced that its interest is not to pursue a nuclear capability," he commented.

5.(C) The Minister said that Egypt wants a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (MENWFZ), and supports the right of all Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) states to develop peaceful nuclear energy. Egypt wants to pressure Israel to join the NPT, he noted. Aboul Gheit asserted that Israeli NPT membership would help the international community apply leverage against Iran's nuclear program. He urged a collective international effort at the 2010 NPT Review Conference to make nuclear weapons a "taboo." He hoped that following the NPT RevCon, the international community could convene a subsequent conference to "make a stand" against nuclear weapons. -------------------- Afghanistan and Iraq --------------------

6.(C) The Minister described Afghanistan as a "major problem that will face the West and the U.S. for decades." In his CAIRO 00000066 002 OF 002 estimation, Afghanistan is significantly under-developed, and socio-economic progress will take time. He called for development strategies "without the use of force." He regretted the arming of Islamic radicals in the 1980's to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, blaming these extremists for fomenting violence in countries such as Algeria and Egypt in the 1990's. Aboul Gheit feared that Iraq could "explode" into sectarian violence as the U.S. draws down its forces. ------ Africa ------

7.(C) Aboul Gheit feared that Al-Qaeda is gaining ground in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and is benefitting from wealth gained from the drug trade in South America. He also assessed that Iran is increasing its presence and influence in Africa. In response, Egypt is sending preachers from Al-Azhar University to Africa to promote Islamic moderation. He offered to send Egyptian physicians and pharmacists to Africa to establish clinics, and asked for U.S. assistance-in-kind, such as buildings and equipment, to support such an effort. SCOBEY

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