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Viewing cable 06MADRID621, AMBASSADOR SHIRIN TAHIR-KHELI'S VISIT TO SPAIN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MADRID621 2006-03-14 09:09 2011-02-02 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Madrid
VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #0621/01 0730937
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 140937Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9126
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0310
RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA 1394
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0156
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0795
C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 000621

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SECRETARY RICE AND UNDER SECRETARY FOR
POLITICAL AFFAIRS R. NICHOLAS BURNS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2016
TAGS: PREL KUNR UN SP
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR SHIRIN TAHIR-KHELI'S VISIT TO SPAIN


Classified By: Political Counselor Kathleen Fitzpatrick for reasons 1.4
(b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary. During her two-day visit to Madrid,
Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Advisor to the
Secretary on UN Reform, met with Spanish National Security

SIPDIS
Advisor Carles Casajuana, MFA Director General for
International Organizations Arturo Laclaustra, and MFA
Director General for Foreign Policy Rafael Dezcallar. She
also had a successful press roundtable and two think tank
events. GOS interlocutors said they agreed in principle with
the USG's demanded changes to the Human Rights Council (HRC)
draft, but did not think they were achievable, given the
number of countries that would propose amendments to water
down the text should it be reopened for negotiation. The
Spanish said the EU sees US participation in the Council as
crucial, and is looking for ways to bring the US on board,
including a declaration saying that no EU country would ever
vote for a country under UN sanctions in an election to the
new HRC.

2. (C) The Spanish expressed appreciation for US leadership
on management reform, where Spanish and US priorities are in
sync. In answer to a question, Ambassador Tahir-Kheli
explained the US position that Security Council reform is not
a US priority, and that she hoped the rest of the reform
agenda could be negotiated before the difficult negotiations
on the UNSC are undertaken. While the Spanish confirmed their
intention to vote for Guatemala in elections to the UN
Security Council, they still indicated that they will not
promote the Guatemalan candidacy over that of Venezuela. End
Summary.

-------------
NSA Casajuana
-------------

3. (U) Ambassador Tahir-Kheli laid out the US approach to
United Nations reform, explaining the long and deep
involvement the USG has had in the process, beginning in
November of 2004. She put forward US hopes for mandate review
and elimination of outdated mandates, and for management
accountability, transparency and oversight. She also
explained the importance to the US of having a credible Human
Rights Council to replace the discredited Commission. She
said the US required two changes to the current draft
resolution for the HRC which would give the Council the
membership credibility necessary for the US to vote for it: a
2/3 election threshold and a membership exclusion for
countries under UN sanctions for Human Rights or terrorism
abuses.

4. (U) Casajuana said that Spain appreciates US activism in
the UN reform process, particularly on management issues. He
said Spain also hopes that the mandate review will lead to
the elimination of unnecessary mandates and shifting of funds
to more worthwhile causes, but he said he expected that
national pride would play a role in keeping alive some
mandates whose usefulness might be questionable.

5. (C) He said he thought US objections to the Human Rights
Council draft resolution were entirely reasonable, and if it
were possible to amend the text without other countries
coming in with their own amendments, it would be ideal. As
things stand, though, he said, this will not be feasible. He
asked that the US reconsider its position on the HRC, saying
that Spain and the EU would like to help the US overcome its
objections to the text as it stands. It would be unthinkable
to have a Council without US participation, he said, but
opening the text to amendment now would likely result in
something even weaker than the discredited Commission.

6. (C) Ambassador Tahir-Kheli stressed that the US was not
asking for a line-by-line revision of the draft text, simply
that the two conditions laid out be taken on board. The
rationale behind the U.S. request for change was that
exclusion of known human rights violators was indeed needed
for more credible membership and better functioning of the
premier UN human rights body.

----------------------
DG Laclaustra and Team
----------------------

7. (U) MFA Director General for International Organizations
Arturo Laclaustra began by introducing his Deputy for Human

Rights, Fernando Fernandez-Arias, who had just returned from
an EU meeting in Brussels to discuss the Human Rights Council
draft. Fernandez-Arias reiterated the Spanish position that
the HRC draft resolution was the best that member states
could hope for and that opening the text for revision could
result in a weaker Council. Nonetheless, he said, the EU
member states felt it essential that the US be part of the
Council from the beginning, and they were looking for ways to
bring the US on board.

8. (U) Fernandez-Arias said he and his EU colleagues had come
up with a proposed declaration, to be signed by all EU member
states and to be valid in perpetuity, stating that none of
the signatories would vote for a country under UN sanctions
for a HRC seat. Ambassador Tahir-Kheli explained the
importance the US places in the two proposed changes to the
text and emphasized that the USG was not asking for a
line-by-line revision of the draft text. Nonetheless, she
said she would convey this idea to colleagues in Washington,
asking if this idea had been publicized by the EU yet. She
expressed hope the Spanish and the EU would find a way to
address US concerns.

9. (U) On the UN Democracy Fund, Laclaustra said his Ministry
had asked for an appropriation for the Fund and expected to
make a contribution by the summer.

10, (C) The Spanish restated their desire that there be no
new permanent seats on the UN Security Council. Ambassador
Tahir-Kheli said that although UNSC reform is not the highest
of US priorities, the US has for a number of years supported
a seat for Japan, and has put forth the elegant formula of
"two or so" addition permanent members. The important element
for the US, she said, was that the Security Council not grow
so large as to be ineffective.

11. (C) Laclaustra asked if the Ambassador had any thoughts
on the election of the next UN Secretary General (SYG).
Ambassador Tahir-Kheli said that the US had put forward
criteria which a successful candidate should meet. She said
the US was not tied to the regional formula, which would
mandate an Asian SYG this time. She told Laclaustra that the
US has no favorite candidate yet.

12. (U) PolCouns also asked the Spanish about their intention
to vote for Guatemala over Venezuela in the upcoming UNSC
elections. She asked if they planned to do outreach to rally
votes for Guatemala, particularly in their region of
influence, Latin America. Laclaustra said that Guatemala had
not asked for assistance from Spain, and that in any event,
the Spanish had no desire to be seen as favoring one
Ibero-American ally over another. While their vote will be
for Guatemala, they have no intention of campaigning for the
Guatemalans.

13. (U) Rafael Dezcallar's chief of staff Felix Costales also
attended the meeting, where he mentioned the Alliance of
Civilizations initiative, thanked the Ambassador for US
support as expressed in Secretary Rice's letter to Foreign
Minister Moratinos, and stressed how important Spain feels
the Alliance is, particularly in light of the recent cartoon
controversy. He mentioned that during the latest High Level
Group meeting in Doha, all of the priorities for the region
the Secretary mentioned in her letter were discussed, and
several project possibilities came up. He said he felt
certain that the High Level Group's recommendations, when
they are released later this year, will include some concrete
projects the US will be able to contribute to.

---------
Dezcallar
---------

14. (C) Beginning with the topic of the hour, Ambassador
Tahir-Kheli opened her discussion with MFA Director General
for Political Affairs Rafael Dezcallar by reiterating the US
objections to the HRC draft text, and explaining that the US
was working hard to find a way forward. Dezcallar echoed his
GOS colleagues by saying that Spain sees US participation in
the Council as critical. He reminded the Ambassador that
several years ago, when Spain was running for a Human Rights
Commission seat (and Dezcallar was DG for International
Organizations), the Spanish withdrew from the election when
it looked like the US would lose its seat. Spain has always
viewed American involvement in the Commission as important,
and believes the US needs to be part of the new Council from
the beginning.

15. (C) Nonetheless, he said he had just returned from
Pakistan, where the Pakistanis said they would propose
numerous amendments to the draft text should it be reopened.
Cuba and others certainly would take advantage of the
opportunity to water down the resolution, if given the
chance, he added. He said he hoped the US would consider
alternative ways of ensuring appropriate membership in the
Council and avoid trying to change the text.

16. (C) Ambassador Tahir-Kheli explained that Secretary Rice
had conveyed her view that the credibility of the new Human
Rights Council would be reflected in its membership. There
need to be certain thresholds for improved membership, she
said, and they need to be in the resolution text, to ensure
the integrity of the Council.
Dezcallar said he understood the US point of view, but hoped
we could work to find a solution outside the text.

17. (C) Dezcallar mentioned the Comprehensive Convention on
International Terrorism (CCIT), saying that he and Minister
Moratinos had discussed the issue with the Pakistanis the day
before. He said he believed the Pakistanis could be a
moderating force on the countries of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference, and said that the Spanish and Pakistani
Ambassadors in New York were going to be in contact about the
CCIT. He added that it would be good if Ambassador Bolton
could work with the Pakistani Ambassador as well. Ambassador
Tahir-Kheli said she would pass the message

18. (C) At the request of Embassy Madrid, and since Dezcallar
had just returned from Pakistan, where he had been with
Foreign Minister Moratinos, the Ambassador took the
opportunity to mention Moratinos's stopover in Damascus,
where he met with the Syrian Foreign Minister at the airport.
Ambassador Tahir-Kheli said that though she was not a Middle
East expert, she was somewhat puzzled by the stop, given the
amount of trouble Syria seems to be causing in various
places, and wondered why it had happened. PolCouns added that
the US, EU and UN all have a common policy on Syria, and that
the US is very concerned that this united front be
maintained.

19. (C) Dezcallar said that Spain was very worried about
Syria as well, but felt that "certain things can be done with
Syria." He said that Minster Moratinos was convinced that
severing contact with the Syrians will cause them to
radicalize and will drive them into the hands of Iran. He
added that Moratinos, because of his close ties to the Syrian
Foreign Minister and the important links between the Spanish
royal family and the Assad family, has more room for maneuver
than many Western leaders. The Ambassador and PolCouns both
reiterated the need to respect the common US/UN/EU policy.
AGUIRRE