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Cablegate: European Dcm's On Libya Issues

VZCZCXRO3740
RR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTRO #0058/01 0210811
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 210811Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5717
INFO RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 0067
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0257
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1208
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0196
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0670
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0875
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0046
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 6269

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000058

SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/MAG, EUR/CE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 1/21/2020 TAGS: PREL PINR PGOV CVIS XG SZ LY

SUBJECT: EUROPEAN DCM'S ON LIBYA ISSUES CLASSIFIED BY: Gene A. Cretz, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy Tripoli. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(S) Summary: In a January 19 meeting with UK, Italian, and French counterparts, the xxxxxxxxxxxx told A/DCM that the UK believes that cancer-ridden Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi has less than four weeks to live. The UK has reportedly asked the GOL to keep al-Megrahi's funeral "low key," but is not optimistic that it will be. The Italian and French DCM's discussed a brewing visa crisis that the Schengen states are facing with the Libyans - in an effort to get two Swiss businessmen out of Libya, the Swiss are now blocking all Schengen visas for Libyan government officials, Qadhafi family members, and prominent businesspeople. As a result, most European embassies in Tripoli are issuing bilateral visas for Libyans whose Schengen applications have been blocked. The GOL is not satisfied with such bilateral visas, and has threatened Schengen states with "reciprocity" (presumably the blockage of Libyan visas for their nationals) if the situation is not resolved. On possible coming changes within the GOL, the UK feels that Qadhafi son Saif al-Islam (reportedly now in London for a 2 week trip) is unlikely to accept the "General Coordinator" position at the upcoming General People's Congress, while the French are convinced that he will. UNGA President Ali Abdussalam Treki is in London January 19-20 for meetings with FCO regarding UN reform, and to meet with Quartet Representative and former PM Tony Blair, presumably to discuss peace process issues. End summary.

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UK BELIEVES MEGRAHI DEATH IMMINENT

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2.(S) xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that the UK Embassy had been told by "a source very close to al-Megrahi's family," that the Lockerbie bomber is in the "final stages" and has "no more than 3-4 weeks to live." This information was provided to the UK Embassy 10 days ago, implying that by now, al-Megrahi has 2-3 weeks left. [Note: This information is speculative, and does not come from a medical professional. End note]. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, the UK Embassy has asked GOL to keep the funeral low-key, but is not optimistic that it will be. The UK is particularly concerned about the "high likelihood" of TV cameras filming footage of the funeral to play on Libyan TV, which would then "near inevitably" be picked up by international news outlets.

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SWISS UPDATE AND SCHENGEN WOES

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3.(C) According to the Italian and French DCM's, the Swiss are currently blocking all Schengen visas for Libyan diplomats, military officials, Qadhafi family members, and prominent Libyan businesspeople. To date, "dozens of key visas" have been blocked. Other Europeans are issuing bilateral visas to those Libyans refused Schengens, but the Libyans are not satisfied with that, and have threatened "reciprocal measures" if the other Europeans don't start issuing Schengen visas without Swiss approval (something that is regulatorily impossible for the other Europeans to do). The DCM's said that it is unclear what the threatened reciprocal measures will be, but that the GOL convoked several European diplomats to the MFA last week to inform them of Libyan upset over the situation. While the Europeans are feeling "increasingly inconvenienced" by Swiss blockage of Schengens, all are sympathetic, and none have protested Swiss actions. The Swiss reportedly circulated a diplomatic note in Brussels to all Schengen members a few weeks ago, explaining that they are blocking the visas of all Libyans "connected" to the arrests of the 2 Swiss citizens in Libya. Representatives of all members of the Schengen group may meet in Brussels sometime over the next few weeks to discuss the issue.

4.(C) The French and UK DCM's confirmed reports that the Germans are working on negotiating between the Libyans and Swiss to resolve the crisis between the two countries, but noted that the senior German officials involved do not want to come to Tripoli for further meetings unless they are "guaranteed of success," which they have not yet been assured of.

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COMING GOL CHANGES?

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5.(S) Based on conversations with "well-informed Libyans," the TRIPOLI 00000058 002 OF 002 UK xxxxxxxxxxxx feels it is "unlikely" that Saif al-Islam Qadhafi will accept the General Coordinator job at the upcoming General People's Congress (due to be held in February, although the exact date has not yet been announced). The French have heard exactly the opposite from their sources - Saif will definitely take the job - while the Italians noted that Saif's behaviour and intense apparently leisure travel schedule in recent weeks "has not exactly been that of someone about to assume control of a government." The UK has been told by an "excellent source in MFA" that Mohamed Abulqasim Al Zawi, current Libyan Ambassador to Morocco and the former Libyan Ambassador to the UK (who re-opened the Libyan Embassy in London in 1999), will be appointed the new Secretary of the General People's Congress. All of the DCM's had heard reports that Libyan PM-equivalent Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi may be replaced by current National Oil Company chairman Shukri Ghanim, but none were sure of the reliability of such information.

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LIBYANS ON THE MOVE

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6.(C) According to the UK DCM, Saif al-Islam is currently in London, and just bought a house in Hampstead. He's likely to be there "for another 2 weeks." UNGA President Treki is in London January 19-20, for meetings with FCO regarding UN reform. He is likely to also meet with Quartet Representative Tony Blair, presumably to discuss peace process issues. According to the Italians, FM Kusa will likely go to Rome next week for a few days of meetings. CRETZ

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