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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI242,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI242 2009-03-19 06:06 2011-01-31 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
VZCZCXRO3452
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0242/01 0780648
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 190648Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4639
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 1032
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0718
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 0500
RUEHVT/AMEMBASSY VALLETTA PRIORITY 0399
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5166
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000242 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/MAG; LONDON AND PARIS FOR NEA WATCHERS; ENERGY FOR 
GINA ERICKSON; COMMERCE FOR NATE MASON; CAIRO FOR TREASURY 
LIAISON ALEX SEVERENS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  3/18/2019 TAGS: PREL ECON EFIN ETRD EPET ASEC CVIS LY

1. (C) Summary: In a recent meeting between Ambassador and Abouzeid Dorda, Chairman of the Libyan Housing and Infrastructure (HIB), Dorda discussed his role in encouraging American companies to work in Libya and his plans to privatize the HIB. He also offered his thoughts on the newly-reorganized government cabinet and ministries. As for U.S.-Libyan military relations, he urged the United States to move quickly in this area, noting the Russians and Europeans are already helping Libya with military matters, including sales of equipment. He reiterated his previous invitation to U.S. companies to help rebuild Libya's housing and infrastructure but pointed out that only 10 percent of HIB's projects remain available for contractors. End summary. LIBYA AND THE U.S. MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME

2. (C) On March 15, Ambassador paid a courtesy call on Abouzeid Dorda, Chairman of the Libyan Housing and Infrastructure (HIB). Dorda welcomed the Ambassador and said he was taking on an "historic responsibility" as the first U.S. Ambassador to Libya in over three decades. He said he imagined Americans did not have a positive image of Libya following thirty years of separation and sanctions. Dorda said he had tried to bring the two countries together even during difficult times. As Libya's UN PermRep (1997-2003), he had encouraged American companies and universities to come and work in Libya. He said he tried to "push" Libyan politicians towards the Americans but that this did not work. Instead, he turned to American businessmen who were interested in working in Libya in order to "pull" the politicians along towards rapprochement. Noting Libya and the UK renewed diplomatic relations in 1999, Dorda said that at least seven years of U.S.-Libyan cooperation were "lost for nothing." He urged the Ambassador to therefore "speed up" our cooperation to make up for the lost time.

3. (C) The Ambassador outlined progress in U.S.-Libyan relations (conclusion of the compensation claims agreement, visit of former Secretary Rice, swift presentation of the Ambassador's credentials, and last week's high-level AFRICOM visit). He previewed upcoming high-level Libyan official visits to the U.S. and congressional interest in coming to Libya. In short, he said the U.S. was doing exactly what Dorda suggested. On the commercial side, a whole range of companies would like to come to Libya, to which Dorda replied they would be welcome. He noted, however, that Libyans were not going to wait as "our people need houses, ports, and airports right now." RUSSIAN MILITARY "ALREADY HERE" AND NOT WAITING

4. (C) As for military cooperation and sales, Dorda stressed the United States faces competition from Russia and many European countries. He said these countries are already working in Libya and are "not going to wait." He said the Americans were welcome and Libya would issue visas. CABINET CHANGES AND GOVERNMENT REFORMS: IT'S THE "PEOPLE'S VISION"

5. (C) On the recent cabinet changes and government restructuring (ref B), Dorda pointed out "there is no cabinet in Libya; all decisions are the vision of the people." Any further government restructuring would depend on the economic situation and follow the trend in Libya towards privatization. Dorda assured the Ambassador that HIB -- which has billions of dollars at its disposal to invest in national infrastructure development -- would remain in tact with himself at the helm. (Dorda denied rumor that he was headed for Paris). IT'S LATE BUT U.S. COMPANIES SHOULD STILL PARTNER WITH HIB

6. (C) In terms of opportunities for U.S. companies, Dorda said HIB had signed 90 percent of its contracts with around 200 companies, with the American firm AECOM contracted to act as overall program manager (ref C). He said other sectors (electricity, transport, and telecommunications) had similar authority to sign their own contracts. He promised to provide the Embassy with a multi-sectoral plan of Libya's development needs so that the Embassy could brief U.S. companies interested in coming to Libya. Dorda said American construction firms were TRIPOLI 00000242 002.2 OF 002 welcome to come to Libya and discuss the remaining 10 percent of contracts with HIB. Alternatively, they could go to Houston and discuss the projects with AECOM. Dorda noted that Libya lacks the technology for micro-tunneling, which is necessary for many HIB projects in urban areas. According to Dorda, other needs in Libya include solar energy, desalination, and agriculture.

7. (C) Comment: Dorda embodies a remarkable combination of adherence to al-Qadhafi's rhetoric of the Jamahiriya (`state of the masses') with a pragmatic outreach to Western companies. The take-away message from this meeting with him is that although HIB's contracts have almost all been allocated, American construction firms are still welcome in Libya. In post's experience, however, most American construction firms are still reticent to engage in on-the-ground work that would entail importing heavy machinery and making significant investments in an unknown environment, especially given al-Qadhafi's recent nationalization rhetoric. Dorda emphasized that the U.S. companies needed to come here quickly, assess their prospects, and begin making the personal connections necessary to work and be successful in this target-rich commercial environment. End comment. CRETZ