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Cablegate: Dubai Process: Slow and Steady Cooperation Between

VZCZCXRO9770
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #0020/01 0031314
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031314Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4441
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000020

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT PASS USTR

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: ETRD ELTN PREL EAID AF
SUBJECT: DUBAI PROCESS: SLOW AND STEADY COOPERATION BETWEEN
AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN

REF: Kabul 3814

1. (SBU) Summary: The sixth round of the Canadian-led Dubai Process
meeting 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 UNODC's pilot program
on border liaison offices, IOM's 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 APTTA negotiations, which
were held the two days prior to the Dubai meetings, crept into the
discussions, but the Canadian chair was able to bring the delegates
back on track. Ultimately, 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 U.K. 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 representatives 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 both 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. Contacts at the MOF
expect the decree will be made in January 2010. Embassy Kabul's BMTF
representative also quickly updated the group on progress on the
Afghan National Customs Academy. Although this is a strictly
Afghan-only institution, it sparked discussion about joint training
ventures between the Pakistani and Afghan Customs agencies.

7. (SBU) The Pakistani delegation 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 customs agreements
provided by the World Bank.

AFGHAN CUSTOMS SEEKING STREAMLINING OF PROCEDURES

KABUL 00000020 002 OF 002


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, high-level 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 focus on
stemming corruption in the Customs authority by developing an
anti-corruption strategy, a work plan for its implementation, along
with assistance for monitoring and reporting.

MOVING PEOPLE WITH BIOMETRICS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

10. (SBU) Under the Dubai Process, 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 Pakistan 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 IOM's 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 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) Frequently the meetings were sidetracked by arguments
between both sides over the name for the territorial division
between Afghanistan and Pakistan, i.e. the "Durand Line" or
"border," respectively. Since the Afghans don't recognize this as a
"border" they insist on using the term, "legal crossing point,"
while the Pakistanis insist on using the term, "border crossing
points." This issue is one of the sticking points in the
Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) negotiations,
the last round of which occurred the two days immediately preceding
the Dubai Process negotiations. There is some overlap between the
countries' negotiating teams and some language used in the technical
level Dubai Process had migrated to the APTTA discussions, much to
the dismay of the GOP. Both delegations also raised repeatedly the
APTTA "re-export" study which will look at cross border trade which
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, at the working level and apolitical,
according to our Canadian interlocutor. With this round immediately
following the APTTA negotiating round, some of the APTTA politics
crept into discussion, forcing the Canadians to tamp down heightened
sensitivities. She said however, the Canadians accompanying the
process were divided on whether there was slow and steady progress
at this round or simply status quo but with relationship building.
End Comment.

RICCIARDONE

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