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Cablegate: Haiti Earthquake: Discussion with Unesco Director-General

VZCZCXYZ0014
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFR #0197 0501636
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191636Z FEB 10
FM USMISSION UNESCO PARIS FR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0000
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME
RUEHPU/AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE

UNCLAS UNESCO PARIS FR 000197

SIPDIS

STATE FOR HAITI TASK FORCE

ROME FOR USFODAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC KPKO HA PREL SCUL UNESCO
SUBJECT: HAITI EARTHQUAKE: DISCUSSION WITH UNESCO DIRECTOR-GENERAL

REF: (A) USUNESCO PARIS FR 000087, (B) USUNESCO PARIS FR 00187

1. Ambassador met UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova February 19
to review issues stemming from the Haiti earthquake. Bokova began
by discussing her plans to visit Haiti March 9-10. She said she
planned to visit cultural sites on March 9 (accompanied by the
Canadian Governor), spend the night hosted by President Preval, and
view educational institutions on March 10. The Director-General
said she was very sorry to learn that Education Secretary Duncan's
schedule would not permit him to accompany her on the second day of
her visit. She said he was still welcome if he changed his mind,
and that she hoped he would be able to accompany her on a later
visit.

2. Ambassador asked Bokova whether she was confident that MINUSTAH
is doing enough to protect cultural property in Haiti. Bokova
replied that UNSYG Ban Ki Moon had assured her that MINUSTAH is
trying to do so, and recalled that the Haitian Culture Minister who
visited UNESCO on February 15-16 had assured her that this is being
done. Reportedly, the Haitian police and private security are
involved, although the Culture Minister had admitted that Haitian
police capabilities are limited.

3. Ambassador reported that he had heard from several sources that
little is really being done. The Haitian speakers at UNESCO's
February 16 emergency meeting on Haitian cultural property (Ref B)
had said private security personnel were checking cultural sites
"every one to two hours." This didn't sound like much. Bokova
agreed that it did not. She said she had written UNSYG Ban Ki Moon
yesterday and had again requested cultural property be protected.
Ambassador in turn suggested that she call the UNSYG to reinforce
the point. Bokova then had her staff bring to her her letter to
Ban. She re-read it, considered a moment, and said I think you're
right I need to be stronger. I'll call Ban as soon as I can.

4. Comment: The extent to which cultural property in Haiti is
being protected is unclear in Paris. We have not been reassured,
however, by UNESCO's tendency to rely on formal written
communication with UN Headquarters in New York and UN Offices in
Port-au-Prince. In the middle of a chaotic and highly stressful
situation, we are not certain that the Director-General's polite
letters will receive the attention they deserve. It seems to us
good that the Director-General plans to reach out by telephone to
reinforce the point.

5. Port-au-Prince Minimize considered.

Killion

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