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Cablegate: Assistant Saudi Oil Minister Requests U.S. Views

VZCZCXYZ0003
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRH #0029 0051256
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 051256Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2235
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0820
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHHH/OPEC COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS RIYADH 000029

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR E, S/CIEA GOLDWYN, EEB/ESC/IEC DAS HENGEL, NEA/ARP
DOE FOR PDAS JONATHAN ELKIND, DAS AL HEGBURG, AND GEORGE
PERSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EPET ENRG PREL ECON FR IEF SA
SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SAUDI OIL MINISTER REQUESTS U.S. VIEWS
ON ENERGY FORUM EXPERT GROUP PRIOR TO JANUARY 10 MEETING IN
PARIS

REF: A. HART-BAGWELL JANUARY 4 EMAILS/TELCON
B. 09 RIYADH 1642
C. 09 RIYADH 1557
D. 09 RIYADH 1450
E. 09 RIYADH 1407
F. 09 RIYADH 1397
G. 09 STATE 103636

1. (U) This is an action request. Please see paragraph five.

2. (SBU) Ambassador met Assistant Minister for Petroleum
Affairs Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman January 4 at the Prince's
request. Prince Abdulaziz gave Ambassador a copy of the
report of the International Energy Forum (IEF) Expert Group
(ref A), the work of which was noted in the Leaders Statement
of the G-20 Pittsburgh summit. The Prince said he was
focused on the upcoming January 10 IEF High Level Steering
Group (HLSG) meeting in Paris that we understand USG reps
also plan to attend. Prince Abdulaziz said he hoped for a
successful meeting there, and he requested Embassy assistance
to work with EEB and DOE to ensure he would not be
"blindsided" by U.S. or other views put forward at the HLSG
meeting.

3. (SBU) Additionally, Prince Abdulaziz requested U.S.
support for IEF reform which in his view boils down to
regularizing funding mechanisms and establishing clearer
membership guidelines. The Prince said he concurs with the
Expert Group recommendation to establish a new minimum legal
framework for the IEF, but he signaled repeatedly to the
Ambassador that he looks forward to working with the USG to
find a solution acceptable to the United States and Saudi
Arabia to preserve the informal nature of IEF deliberations.

4. (SBU) Comment: As of DOE DepSec Poneman's December 6-8
visit to Saudi Arabia, and from what we have heard of
subsequent discussions in Washington on this issue, we
understand the USG position remains not to support the Expert
Group recommendation to establish a minimum legal framework
for the IEF but that we could accept reforms that result in
regularizing funding streams and establishing clearer
membership guidelines for the IEF. Both of these steps would
increase the organization's effectiveness. We have heard
Washington officials say they also conceivably could support
the U.S. taking a more active role in the IEF, perhaps
joining the organization's executive board. As we have
reported previously, with the IEF secretariat headquarters
located in Riyadh, U.S. Mission Saudi Arabia is aware of some
of the organization's historical weaknesses, but we also see
opportunities to help reshape the IEF into an organization
that much more strongly supports U.S. energy policy goals and
promotes President Obama's outreach efforts to the Muslim
World. The result would be an organization that is much more
valuable to the United States than it has been in previous
years.

5. (SBU) Action request: Embassy requests Department
guidance as soon as possible about the U.S. position on the
expert group report and that we can share with Prince
Abdulaziz and ideally the IEF Secretary General prior to the
January 10 HLSG meeting.
SMITH

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