April 08

08LONDON929 2008-04-01 09:09 2010-12-02 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy London

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EO 12958 DECL: 03/28/2018
TAGS PREL, PGOV, MARR, IZ, AF, IS, IR, PK, UK
SUBJECT: DAVID CAMERON TELLS JOHN MCCAIN TORIES WON’T BREAK
WITH HMG WHERE TROOPS ARE CONCERNED

Classified By: Ambassador Robert H. Tuttle for reasons 1.4 (b,d)

¶1. (C/NF) Summary: Conservative party leader David Cameron told Senator John McCain the Tories won’t break ranks with HMG on policies affecting British troops in battle. Cameron and Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague told McCain and Senators Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham that Prime Minister Gordon Brown had no political support to increase British troops in Iraq. McCain said Basrah was “quiet for all the wrong reasons.” (This conversation took place March 20 before the recent surge of violence in Southern Iraq.) McCain thanked Britain for its support. The Senators also discussed Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel with Conservative leaders. End Summary.

Participants
————

¶2. (U) Senators John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, accompanied by the Ambassador, Senate staff Richard Fontaine and Dan Serchuk, and Poloff Kirsten Schulz met March 20 in David Cameron’s House of Commons office. Cameron had assembled an eager group from his front bench including Hague, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, Shadow Defence Minister Liam Fox, as well as Chief of Staff Edward Llewellyn, former party leader Michael Howard, and Dame Pauline Neville-Jones. The room was packed and the atmosphere collegial.

McCain’s Assessment of Iraq
————————–

¶3. (C/NF) Senator McCain said the situation in Iraq had improved. He warned that Al Qaeda would put up a fight in Mosul and the Iranians were “not going to go quietly into the night.” Maliki, McCain told the group, was weak but getting better. In Anbar province, he added, there was a demand for elections. McCain praised General Petraeus and the quality of the military leadership and mentioned Petraeus’ upcoming congressional testimony. Cameron asked what the American troop numbers were likely to be. McCain said the U.S. would “stick at 180,000” and noted, “it’s not the number of troops, but the number of casualties” which is of import. Al-Qaeda, said McCain, had taken to using suicide bombers and now to deploying women bombers. He said one woman was asked why she had tried to become a suicide bomber. She replied, “because my husband told me to.”

Cameron Asks McCain for Appraisal of Basrah
——————————————-

¶4. (C/NF) Cameron asked McCain what he thought was happening in the south of Iraq. McCain said he was very worried. He said it was like “Chicago in the 20’s” and “could go at any time.” The Iranians were there and the Iraqis were likely to find “the going to be extremely difficult.” “Just because its quiet,” said McCain, “doesn’t mean it’s good. It is quiet for all the wrong reasons.”

Pledge on Troops
—————-

¶5. (C/NF) Cameron and Hague told the Senators that the Conservatives would never take a policy position that would undermine British policies where troops are involved. Hague noted the Conservatives largely share the Labour foreign policy agenda. Cameron said Prime Minister Brown did not have the political support to increase the British troop presence in Iraq, saying “that moment has passed.” Hague seconded Cameron’s assessment. Cameron asked McCain whether the British plans for a further draw-down should not go forward, given that HMG could not both maintain a presence in Iraq and build up its role in Afghanistan. In response, McCain thanked Cameron and for Britain’s contribution in Iraq and Afghanistan.
¶6. (C/NF) McCain said he understood the Prime Minister intended to withdraw British troops prior to the next election. Hague confirmed Brown politically could not do otherwise. “I understand that,” said McCain, “the British people have my gratitude for all that you have done.”

Israel
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¶7. (C/NF) McCain told Cameron that Israel’s Prime Minster Ehud Omert was “still paying the price for Lebanon.” Cameron asked whether Quartet Leader Tony Blair was optimistic. McCain said he admired Blair for his steadfastness, but what McCain had noticed in international relations was the tendency of statesmen to be optimistic once they become negotiators.

Iran
—-

¶8. (C/NF) McCain told Cameron he saw an increasing, and increasingly damaging role, for Iran in regional affairs. This included an increase in activity in Iraq and in arming Hezbollah. McCain said he advocated gathering Europe to “cut off all credit” to Iran. Not just Europe, but other like-minded nations such as Japan, should be encouraged to take collective action on such matters, he said. Hague responded that he and the Conservatives had been pushing for this for the last two years. Hague and Cameron alleged that the release of the National Intelligence Assessment had set back this effort.

Afghanistan and Pakistan
————————

¶9. (C/NF) Cameron told McCain that he and his party focused on Afghanistan as the key foreign police issue. This was due, not least, to the timeline for when the Conservatives might come into office (2010 or 2009 at the earliest) and the fact that British troops were meant to be out of Iraq by then. Cameron also raised Pakistan, noting that 60,000 individuals travel to Pakistan from the UK each year and that this has implications for the UK’s own significant domestic “terror threat.” Cameron said he was interested in exploring the idea of whether ISAF and Enduring Freedom operations could be combined, as well as whether an increase in military presence was required or an enhanced civilian presence was more important. McCain replied that Afghanistan is complicated by the uncertainty in Pakistan. “We all like Karzai,” he said, “but his is a very weak government.” Cameron said NATO troop capacity was “patchy” and there appeared to be perpetual problems with shortages of air transport support. McCain said he was worried about Pakistan. “If they don’t cooperate and help us, I don’t know what we are going to do,” he said. He added, “Waziristan hasn’t been ruled for 2,000 years.” On a positive note, McCain praised the fighting capacity of Afghans, whom he called “great fighters.” Cameron said each year he met with Karzai, and each year he had the sense Karzai’s sphere of influence was shrinking.

¶10. (U) CODEL McCain did not clear this cable.
Visit London’s Classified Website: http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/london/index. cfm Tuttle

08REYKJAVIK71 2008-04-23 19:07 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINR KPAL KWBG IS XF IC
SUBJECT: ABBAS STOPOVER IN ICELAND: SPECIAL ENVOY APPOINTED,
REYKJAVIK SUMMIT IDEA FLOATED

¶1. (SBU) Summary: In a short-notice visit, Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas overnighted in Iceland April 21-22, meeting
with Icelandic President Grimsson and Foreign Minister Gisladottir.
At the ceremonial lunch with Grimsson, Abbas lauded the
contributions of small states like Iceland in the Middle East Peace
Process, a theme he reiterated at a press conference after meeting
with Foreign Minister Gisladottir. For her part, Gisladottir named
Iceland’s first Special Envoy to the Palestinian Authority, as part
of the Government’s increased humanitarian and development
assistance efforts announced last year. Abbas cited the 1986
“Reykjavik Summit” as a specific example of how Iceland as a small
state could be involved in the peace process, which generated
considerable press interest and speculation. After a readout from
the Ministry’s Political Director, details of Iceland’s new policy
moves remain somewhat sketchy, but they are clearly in line with
this Government’s push to increase its presence on the international
stage. End Summary.

¶2. (U) On April 21, Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson’s
office announced that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
would arrive in Iceland that evening for a visit en route to his
Washington meetings with President Bush. Grimsson hosted Abbas for
lunch on April 22, after which Abbas met with Icelandic Foreign
Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir.

¶3. (SBU) The Grimsson-Abbas lunch was largely ceremonial in nature,
in keeping with Grimsson’s minimal policy role in the Icelandic
system. However, both leaders used the occasion as an opportunity
for declarations of mutual Icelandic-Palestinian support and desires
for peace in the Middle East.

¶4. (SBU) FM Gisladottir, in contrast, used her meeting with Abbas
as a platform to unveil several new policy initiatives, building
upon her trip to the region last fall and the MFA’s announcement at
the December Paris Donors’ Conference of a four-fold increase in aid
to the Palestinian people. Gisladottir notified Abbas (and
subsequently the media) that she has appointed Iceland’s first
special envoy, Thordur Aegir Oskarsson, to the Palestinian
Authority. In a readout meeting with Charge on April 23, MFA
Political Director Greta Gunnarsdottir noted that the special envoy,
a career diplomat who is now Iceland’s Ambassador to Japan, would
travel frequently to the region to oversee Iceland’s increased
assistance to the Palestinian Authority. He would work closely with
international organizations and NGOs already administering
humanitarian and development programs in the Palestinian area. The
envoy will be accredited to the Palestinian Authority and will not
liaise with the Israelis. She said, “There will be a distinct
division of labor” and that Icelandic-Israeli relations will
continue to be managed by Iceland’s Ambassador resident in
Copenhagen.

¶5. (SBU) Additionally, Abbas cited the 1986 “Reykjavik Summit” as a
specific example of how Iceland as a small state could be involved
in the peace process. Foreign Minister Gisladottir said Iceland
would, of course, support such an idea. The Political Director
emphasized, however, that Abbas’ remark was meant only as an
example, and not as an explicit suggestion. She added that the
media had reported the comment with liberty, and had perhaps made
more of it than was actually intended.

¶6. (U) Media Coverage: All media covered yesterday’s visit by
President Abbas in straight forward terms. Media widely reported FM
Gisladottir’s appointment of veteran diplomat Thordur Aegir
Oskarsson (presently Iceland’s Ambassador to Japan — see bio note
para. 7) as a special envoy to the Palestinian Authority. The
Foreign Minister said Oskarsson would visit the area frequently and
would effectively be Iceland’s ambassador to Palestine. The press
picked up on President Abbas’ comment that “Iceland can play a big
role in the peace process, as it did by hosting the Reykjavik
summit.” Foreign Minister Gisladottir responded that “we are going
to concentrate on that.” At a press conference, President Abbas
told the media that “the time when only super powers governed the
world was over.” He said, “Icelanders and Palestinians have their
fight for independence in common and the role of Iceland really
matters in the Middle East.” Comment: Post anticipates that
editorial comment on the visit and Iceland’s policy initiatives will
begin appearing in the print media on April 24. End comment.

¶7. (SBU) Bio Note: Thordur Aegir Oskarsson is currently Iceland’s
Ambassador to Japan and the Philippines, a post he has held since
¶2004. Oskarsson will take up his duties as Special Envoy to the
Palestinian Authority later this spring. He has a BA in Political
Science from the University of Iceland (1979) and an MA in
International Politics from the University of Wisconsin (1980), and
was a Ph.D. student at Wisconsin from 1980-83. Oskarsson returned
to Iceland in 1983, and worked as a researcher for a short-lived

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think tank on national security, an urban planner and a reporter for
a newspaper aligned with Iceland’s Progressive Party. He joined the
Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1988. In 1999 Oskarsson was
appointed Iceland’s OSCE PermRep in Vienna, and subsequently was
accredited to Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovinia, Slovakia, and Hungary as
well as the UN Agencies in Vienna. He is married with two
children.

KLOPFENSTEIN

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