148691 4/5/2008 12:31 08BAGHDAD1040 Embassy Baghdad SECRET 08BAGHDAD824|08BAGHDAD952 VZCZCXRO4288 PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK DE RUEHGB #1040/01 0961231 ZNY SSSSS ZZH P 051231Z APR 08 FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6650 INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001040
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/05/2018 TAGS: PGOV, IZ SUBJECT: PRT-WASIT: MID-LEVEL SADRISTS REENGAGE OVER DETAINEE RELEASE PROGRAM
REF: A. BAGHDAD 824 B. BAGHDAD 952
Classified By: PRT Team Leader Wade Weems for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (U) This is a PRT Wasit reporting cable.
2. (S/NF) Summary. On 1 April, TL and IPAO met with three Wasit Sadr Trend district-level officials who complained that ISF and CF operations disproportionably targeted Sadrists, though they admitted the movement "has some bad people" who deserve arrest. The three visited FOB Delta to sign guarantor forms for detainees scheduled for release under the MND-C Guarantor Release Program. When pressed to supply information on criminal elements, whether non-compliant Sadrists or competing organizations such as Badr, one asked whether CF would "be able to detain them, even if it is a senior figure." As with past meetings with Sadr Trend officials, the visitors made it clear that the substance of the meeting would be communicated back to Najaf. End summary.
3. (S/NF) Adil Mohammed Salman, (Suwayrah city council member), Rafid Abd Al-Kadhum Jameel, (Aziziyah district council member), and Ala Sultan Khudhier (unspecified title in Aziziyah Office of the Martyr Sadr (OMS)), explained that their purposes for meeting were to (1) make personal introductions and (2) secure release of the detainees. Provincial Sadrist leaders have pushed for detainee releases and provided a list of requested individuals. PRT and 214 FB designated three detainees from Wasit for release as part of the MND-C detainee release program, pending signatures from OMS representatives on guarantor release agreements.
4. (S/NF) TL opened the meeting by emphasizing that the U.S. has no objections to Sadrist political aspirations, and emphasized the common ground between OMS and CF, including the need to provide better services for the destitute, to build a strong and independent Iraq, to reduce the level of violence, and to ensure fair political processes. Jameel expressed agreement with these principles and said that security must stabilize and "bad people need to be arrested." But he said that in order to reduce tensions, CF and ISF should "have arrest warrants, not steal, not use dogs, and show respect for our women." Jameel continued, "we understand that American soldiers don,t need the money so they don't steal," but, he underscored, "the Iraqi Army takes personal property and detains relatives of wanted individuals when the intended targets aren,t present." These tactics prevent focusing on the political issues, he said. TL noted that the Sadrists likely will win seats in the next provincial elections, but that violence in the streets and recent events will erode Sadrist political support, as it has in the past.
5. (S/NF) After signing the guarantor forms, Jameel noted the importance of the detainee releases as a great opportunity to build relations. He said that "detainees are treated very well by the Americans," laughingly saying that "most gain weight while in detention." But, he said, it is a serious hardship for the families who have to pay to visit them. He strongly agreed with the practice of having OMS officials review and sign for the released individuals, because OMS is in a unique position to confirm or disconfirm the suitability of candidates for release. "Some bad people in the movement must remain detained," Jameel said. TL agreed that this was an excellent step in building mutual confidence and reiterated that "the intent of the US is to build up an independent and strong Iraq, an Iraq that is strong politically, economically and is secure."
6. (S/NF) Jameel agreed that "there are violent actions committed by other groups but blamed on JAM." TL asked "why don,t you turn in the individuals responsible for damaging the reputation of your movement?" Jameel replied that "the reason is clear, the other side is the Government; it,s easy for other parties to use the government to pass information -- NOFORN SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/WE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2018 TAGS: MT, NATO, PREF, PREL, PGOV SUBJECT: MALTA'S NEW FM GRATEFUL FOR PROGRESS ON DTA, PFP, AND REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM
REF: A. STATE 30007
B. VALLETTA 56
Classified By: MCummings for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (SBU) Summary. March 25, Ambassador Bordonaro met with the Malta,s new Foreign Minister Tonio Borg. As this was the first time the Ambassador met with Borg since his appointment as Foreign Minister, she updated Borg on the progress achieved on key issues on our bilateral agenda, such as the Double Taxation Agreement and refugee resettlement program. Over the course of the discussion, the Ambassador also welcomed Malta,s decision to rejoin NATO,s Partnership for Peace, raised the talking points on Belarus (Reftel A), and encouraged Malta to recognize Kosovo,s independence (Borg said he was recommending recognition). End summary.
DOUBLE TAXATION AGREEMENT INITIALED
2. (SBU) In a meeting with the new FM Tonio Borg on March 25, the Ambassador informed Borg that a team from the US Department of Treasury was in Malta to complete negotiations on a US-Malta Bilateral Double Taxation Agreement (DTA). Since many of the technical details were hammered out in previous rounds the Ambassador was able to express confidence that the negotiations would produce an agreement to be initialed by March 27, which they did (reported septel). The one outstanding issue that had yet to be negotiated, which was raised by the Senate Foreign Relations staff, relates to the insurance excise tax; Treasury and Malta,s DTA negotiators agreed that this issue could be dealt with through an exchange of notes. The Ambassador notified Borg that the treaty once signed would have to be ratified by the US Senate. From Malta,s perspective the ratification process is simple: the Treaty will be published in the Government Gazette and if there are no objections within thirty days it will enter into effect.
MALTA JOINS NATO,S PFP IN TIME FOR BUCHAREST SUMMIT
3. (SBU) The Ambassador congratulated Borg on the decision Malta took to rejoin NATO,s Partnership for Peace (PfP). Borg thanked the Ambassador for her support, guidance and communication throughout the process. In the end, Malta simply needed to forward a letter to the NATO Secretary General formal rescinding Malta's 1996 letter of withdrawal. Borg understood that Malta,s individual program, originally negotiated in 1994 upon entry to PfP, would be reactivated as Malta still felt its best contribution would be through joint training programs.
4. (C) Aside from process, Borg indicated that the decision had been taken in such an expeditious manner in order to ensure Malta would be accepted as a member at the Bucharest summit. He voiced his concern that the criticism (by the media and the opposition) of the manner in which the decision to rejoin was taken would solidify Malta,s population against PfP if Malta was not invited to join at the Bucharest summit (this concern was obviated by Prime Minister Gonzi's subsequent trip to Bucharest, where he represented Malta as the newest member of PfP. The opposition Malta Labor Party has been vocal in its criticism of the government's decision to join PfP, which it claims is a violation of the neutrality clause in Malta,s constitution.
KOSOVO ) NO DECISION YET, BUT LEANING TOWARDS RECOGNITION
5. (C) Borg told the ambassador that his recommendation to the Prime Minister would be in favor of recognition of Kosovo. Borg indicated a decision on the matter would be taken soon. The one caveat he added was that he needed to review the statement made by his predecessor, former Foreign Minister Michael Frendo, on the matter to the Foreign Affairs Committee from several months ago (Reftel B). Before a decision is made public, it is likely Borg will first brief the opposition and the Foreign Affairs Committee (note: Parliament will reconvene in mid-May), as is traditional prior to significant policy changes (the fact that the government has been so heavily criticized in the press for taking a decision to rejoin PfP without prior consultation
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makes it unlikely the GoM will recognize Kosovo prior to briefing the committee in late May). Borg also mentioned that Malta was waiting for Greece to make a decision, seeming to indicate that would influence their decision.
TIP ) REPORTING PROGRESS AND CLARIFYING MISPERCEPTIONS
6. (SBU) The Ambassador told Borg that before the reporting period ended on March 31 it would be to Malta,s benefit to complete the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Police Force and the Ministry of Social Policy to formalize the process of screening all prostitutes and potential victims of trafficking by social workers. The same day the Ambassador conveyed this message to Minister Borg the MOU was signed and put into force.
7. (SBU) Borg had dealt with TIP in his previous role as Minister for Justice and Home Affairs and is very concerned about misperceptions regarding the nature of the problem of human trafficking in Malta. Borg expressed his concern to the Ambassador that last year's TIP report seemed to confuse the trafficking problem with the irregular migrants who have been rescued at sea en route to mainland Europe and then brought to Malta. He added that it was important to present an accurate picture of the situation; Borg also felt it was critical to point out that the Police and Ministry for Social Policy were willing to carry out the recommended measures in order to full address the problem.
REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT PROGRAM INCHES FORWARD
8. (SBU) Borg first expressed his gratitude to the USG for its "serious and concrete commitment" to assist Malta by resettling some of Malta's African refugees in the U.S. While grateful for the program, Borg was eager to see results; he inquired when the first group of refugees would be departing for the United States. The Ambassador informed Borg that although no departure date had been set, more than 80 individuals had been approved by DHS for resettlement and were undergoing medical and security clearances.
9. (SBU) The Ambassador raised concerns relayed to the Embassy by UNHCR about continuing the resettlement program in the absence of commensurate improvements by the GoM of the conditions in the camps. Borg agreed that the conditions could be improved, but insisted that the manner in which UNHCR approached the matter was not constructive. Borg agreed to attend a meeting hosted by the Ambassador with UNHCR and key GOM officials when Walter Irvine, the head of the UNHCR office in Rome, visits in late April. He welcomed the opportunity to improve relations with UNHCR, acknowledging that this would be in Malta's interest.
MALTA EXPRESSED FOR EU STATEMENT ON BELARUS
10. (C) Ambassador Bordonaro conveyed talking points contained in reftel demarche on the demands by the Government of Belarus that the US reduce staff at the Embassy in Minsk (Reftel A). Borg indicated his understanding was that this would be addressed in the GYMINCH and Malta would support a strong statement from the EU on this matter.
11. (C) In her dealings with Tonio Borg during his tenure as Minister for Justice and Home Affairs in the previous government, the Ambassador established an excellent working relationship with him. Borg, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister, has proven to be a reliable partner who can generally be counted on to move things forward, with the MOU between the Police Force and the Ministry for Social Policy on TIP being a good example. We believe that Borg will be more accessible that the previous FM, with whom we had difficulty scheduling regular meetings, and who was thus frequently out of the loop in bilateral USG-GoM developments. The relationship with Borg promises to be different in tone and tempo. BORDONARO