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Viewing cable 08LONDON2770, COMMONWEALTH: NEW SYG LOOKING TO STEP UP ENGAGEMENT WITH USG REF: A. COLOMBO 982 B. LONDON 2304 Classified By: Ambassador Robert Tuttle, reasons 1.4 (b/d).

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08LONDON2770 2008-11-03 11:11 2011-02-04 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy London
VZCZCXRO1597
PP RUEHMR RUEHPB
DE RUEHLO #2770/01 3081142
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031142Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0295
INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0806
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 1183
RUEHSV/AMEMBASSY SUVA PRIORITY 0021
RUEHBH/AMEMBASSY NASSAU PRIORITY 0189
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0243
RUEHWN/AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PRIORITY 0180
RUEHBE/AMEMBASSY BELMOPAN PRIORITY 0006
RUEHOR/AMEMBASSY GABORONE PRIORITY 0091
RUEHBD/AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN PRIORITY 0043
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE PRIORITY 0130
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA PRIORITY 0487
RUEHJL/AMEMBASSY BANJUL PRIORITY 0057
RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA PRIORITY 0421
RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN PRIORITY 0060
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0818
RUEHKG/AMEMBASSY KINGSTON PRIORITY 0240
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0414
RUEHMR/AMEMBASSY MASERU PRIORITY 0040
RUEHLG/AMEMBASSY LILONGWE PRIORITY 0034
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR PRIORITY 0190
RUEHVT/AMEMBASSY VALLETTA PRIORITY 0150
RUEHPL/AMEMBASSY PORT LOUIS PRIORITY 0127
RUEHTO/AMEMBASSY MAPUTO PRIORITY 0060
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0258
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA PRIORITY 0593
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 0900
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY PRIORITY 0025
RUEHWLC/AMEMBASSY APIA PRIORITY 0004
RUEHFN/AMEMBASSY FREETOWN PRIORITY 0183
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE PRIORITY 0264
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 0648
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 0158
RUEHMB/AMEMBASSY MBABANE PRIORITY 0039
RUEHSP/AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN PRIORITY 0078
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA PRIORITY 0172
RUEHDR/AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM PRIORITY 0145
RUEHLS/AMEMBASSY LUSAKA PRIORITY 0106
RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI PRIORITY 0077
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1297
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LONDON 002770 
 
SIPDIS 
NOFORN 
 
STATE FOR EUR/WE, INR/B, G (JOAQUIN FERRAO), AND DRL/MLGA 
(LAURA JORDAN) 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/30/2018 
TAGS: PREL KDEM EAID PINR UK
SUBJECT: COMMONWEALTH: NEW SYG LOOKING TO STEP UP ENGAGEMENT WITH USG  REF: A. COLOMBO 982      B. LONDON 2304  Classified By: Ambassador Robert Tuttle, reasons 1.4 (b/d).  

1. (C) "The Commonwealth is a strategic partner for most of what the USG wants," new Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma told the Ambassador in an October 29 courtesy call.  Sharma said the USG "should not confuse the Commonwealth's low-key approach as ineffective," pointing out that he would like to step up the organization's engagement with the U.S.  Briefly outlining his priorities, Sharma said he wants to work on reform of international institutions, increasing governance stability in individual states, lowering the temperature of "culture conflict in the world," and forging new links in development and technology.  

2. (C) Highlighting where the Commonwealth can add value, Sharma said the Commonwealth can play a vital role in making the reform of international institutions a more inclusive process because of the diverse nature of its member states. Sharma also termed the Commonwealth a vehicle of quiet change which shares the U.S.'s democratic values.  Citing an example, he said the Commonwealth had been working for the past three years to help bring about the first democratic presidential elections in the Maldives (reftel A). Commonwealth officials often cite Pakistan's temporary suspension and the organization's hard-line on Zimbabwe as evidence of its influence.  

Comment -------  

3. (C) While the Commonwealth's influence is limited, it does share our values on governance and development, and the organization does hold some cache amongst its members, especially because of the preferential visa regimes and trade terms accorded to members.  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, while it only has two people working on the portfolio, has told us HMG would welcome greater U.S.- Commonwealth engagement, especially with regard to Sharma's drive to make the organization more relevant and to play a leading role on reforming international institutions.  They also suggested the Commonwealth is a good forum for "soft  LONDON 00002770  002 OF 003   access" to the G-77, where traditional UN voting blocks do not apply.  Embassy London will continue to explore ways that the USG may derive benefit from more strategic engagement with the Commonwealth, possibly through partnering on initiatives like the Community of Democracies and election observer missions.  

Bio Note: Kamalesh Sharma -------------------------  

4. (C/NF) Intelligent and engaging, Kamalesh Sharma has a vision for the Commonwealth and wants to make the organization relevant to the current international climate by pairing technology with development and by low-key engagement on good governance and transparent trade.  Sharma understand how the USG operates and wants to step up the Commonwealth's engagement with the U.S.  

5. (U) An Indian diplomat, Sharma became Commonwealth Secretary General on April 1, 2008, following the appointment made by the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November 2007 in Kampala, Uganda.  He was previously India's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (2004 - 2007), where he was very involved in Commonwealth affairs, including representing India at Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group meetings on several occasions and leading India's delegation to the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers meeting in Malta in November 2005.  

6. (U) From 2002 - 2004, Sharma served as the UN Special Representative to East Timor.  From 1997 - 2002, he was India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.  A career Indian diplomat, he has held an ambassadorial rank five times.  

7. (U) Sharma was educated at Modern School and St. Stephen's College in Delhi and at King's College, Cambridge University in the UK.  He was a fellow at Harvard University.  Sharma is married with two adult children.  His interests include literature, cosmology, cricket, Indian and Western classical music, and jazz.  Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXXLONDON 00002770  003 OF 003    TUTTLE