176264 10/31/2008 15:57 08BUCHAREST852 Embassy Bucharest SECRET 08BUCHAREST463|08BUCHAREST576|08BUCHAREST804 VZCZCXRO0473 OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK DE RUEHBM #0852 3051557 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 311557Z OCT 08 ZDS FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8855 INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RHMFISS/USDAO BUCHAREST RO IMMEDIATE RHFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE S E C R E T BUCHAREST 000852
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - CLASSIFIED BY
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/31/2023 TAGS: KTIA, MARR, PGOV, PREL, SOFA, RO SUBJECT: ROMANIA: A NEW UNSCR IS ONLY VIABLE OPTION FOR STAYING IN IRAQ
REF: A. BUCHAREST 804 B. BUCHAREST 576 C. BUCHAREST 463
Classified By: Charge Jeri Guthrie-Corn; Reasons 1.4(b ) and (d).
1. (S) In an October 30 meeting, MFA Director General for Bilateral Relations Anca Mantulescu told POLMILOFF that there is no longer a window for Parliament to approve a SOFA with Iraq. She said, "I think your plan B for a UNSCR needs to become your plan A." She added that the demands for forming a government and naming the Legislative Committee members will not be completed in time for MPs to also review and discuss an Iraqi SOFA, regardless of an advance receipt of the U.S. SOFA template. Mantulescu underscored that the only viable option for Romania at this stage is an extension on UNSCR 1790, if Romania is to maintain its military forces in Iraq. She emphasized that Romania is committed to the mission, and that "this comes out of our experience living under a dictatorship; I personally feel that Romania must stick with the coalition and help the Iraqi government!" But she added that without something that allows Romania to abide by its own laws, it would have to withdraw.
2. (S) Members of the Romanian Joint Staff told Mission's Army Attache on October 31 that absent a SOFA or UNSCR extension, Romania was required by law to remove all troops from Iraq "no later than midnight on the night of 31 December." These officers also did not believe that a Romania SOFA had any chance of being adopted within the current calendar year. They further stated that their plan was to begin by November 15, coordinating the redeployment of Romanian forces with the U.S. unless they were to receive strong assurances that a legal mechanism could be found to keep their forces in place.
3. (SBU) These conversations followed comments made on October 25 by Defense Minister Melescanu who, in response to a reporter's question about the absence of a SOFA and Romania's options, said, "The Romanian army is not an occupying force in Iraq. It is there following the request of the Iraqi government and on the basis of an international mandate. If this mandate is not renewed, or if the Iraqi government can dispose of this support, Romanian troops will return home. In all likelihood, the U.S. will sign an agreement with the Iraqi government -- an agreement to which we can be associated -- if we are officially invited and our support is requested."
4. (S) Comment: As reported in Ref A, the window for Romania to have its own SOFA is virtually closed; the two week grace period has ended. MFA and MOD are clear that only an extension of the UNSCR would salvage Romania's efforts to keep its troops in Iraq. Even that prospect, however, is still dependent upon Romania receiving a formal invitation from Baghdad to stay. No letter of invitation has yet been received. Mission believes it would be prudent for Washington to raise more formally with coalition partners the prospects of an extension of UNSCR 1790, or perhaps a new UNSCR that would at least cover the needs of those coalition partners -- like Romania -- that are in critical need of a legal framework in order to complete the mission in Iraq. This could conceivably be a hybrid solution: continued and hopefully successful negotiation of the U.S. SOFA plus an extended or new UNSCR to allow negotiating time for the other coalition partners invited to remain. End Comment. GUTHRIE-CORN