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Viewing cable 09CAIRO1410, ARAB LEAGUE COS FOLLOW-UP ON US-ARAB COOPERATION;

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO1410 2009-07-22 10:10 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO3295
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #1410/01 2031012
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221012Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3243
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001410 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NEA/RA FOR MIKE ADLER 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/22/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL SCUL EG
SUBJECT: ARAB LEAGUE COS FOLLOW-UP ON US-ARAB COOPERATION; 
PRESIDENT'S JUNE 4 SPEECH 
 
REF:CAIRO 1258 Classified By: Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i. Matthew H. Tueller Reasons: 1.4 (B) and (D)
1.(C) Key points: - Arab League (AL) Chief of Staff Hisham Yousef gave Min-Cons a well-developed list of initial ideas for U.S.-Arab cooperation on economic, media and cultural issues on July 20. Some ideas were drawn from previous AL activities in the U.S. and others were keyed to the President's June 4 Cairo speech. - Reviewing the themes and ideas of President Obama's speech, Yousef suggested the AL would be a strong regional partner in some areas, with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) playing a similar role in others. - Yousef agreed to work with the Embassy on preliminary development of these ideas, but reiterated his desire to send a team of AL Secretariat experts to Washington, or receive a USG delegation, in the not-too-distant future. - Yousef's presentation was notable for its organization and demonstrates seriousness on the part of the AL Secretariat. We recognize that previous AL efforts in the economic/social sphere have bogged down once member states have become involved. Nevertheless, Yousef presented some good ideas that merit consideration (see action request in para 8).

2.(SBU) Arab League COS Yousef briefed Min-Cons July 20 on AL Secretariat initial ideas for enhancing U.S.-Arab ties in economic, media and cultural areas. Currently there is no mechanism for dialogue with the U.S. on these fronts, he said. Yousef noted his recent phone call with NEA Acting Assistant Secretary Feltman on the subject, and expressed a desire to get started quickly. He outlined various frameworks the AL uses with other countries and regions (e.g. Turkey, Latin America, the European Union (EU) and the African Union), recognizing that there is not a "one size fits all" approach. Yousef also said that the OIC should also be involved when appropriate.

3.(SBU) Social development: Yousef said education was critical, and an AL-sponsored regional approach for U.S. training of Arab teachers and students, as well as distance-learning courses, were possibilities. In addition, Yousef said the AL is working with the EU on accrediting and evaluating Arab universities; perhaps this is another area for U.S.-Arab educational cooperation.

4.(SBU) Media: Yousef said the "perception gap" on both sides was a problem to be addressed. There have been regional media conferences in the Gulf that could possibly be expanded to include American media, or alternatively a new forum could be established. Yousef suggested an exchange program for young journalists from Arab and American media outlets. Perhaps a U.S.-Arab prize for journalism could be established, he said. Yousef ventured that the AL and U.S. could cooperate on addressing "offensive" media coverage (something that visiting U/S Burns expressed skepticism over in a June 6 meeting with AL SYG Moussa).

5.(SBU) Cultural issues: Yousef said that the "Arabesque" cultural program at the Kennedy Center (earlier in the year) had been very successful and the AL Secretariat wanted to build upon it. The AL is currently consulting internally on developing an "alliance of civilizations" dialogue; member states would meet to discuss in late 2009. Development of Arab youth is an AL priority, Yousef said, citing the President's June 4 references to health care for children, illiteracy, microfinance and the idea of an entrepreneurship conference before the end of 2009. He said the AL Secretariat was very keen for further details on these ideas. Finally, Yousef suggested generally that the USG focus to some degree on implementation of assistance programs via a regional, rather than bilateral, approach.

6.(SBU) Min-Cons welcomed Yousef's ideas. He noted that the USG's Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) is regionally focused on some of these areas already. Yousef acknowledged this, and said he is open to USG feedback on his initial presentation.

7.(C) Comment: We recognize the AL's poor track record on economic and social projects, heightened by the fact that major initiatives require consensus of member states. This likely explains Yousef's plan to proceed with these discussions absent member-state participation (he was joined CAIRO 00001410 002 OF 002 only by AL Secretariat Chief of Economic Affairs Nada El-Agizy). Also, Yousef has not yet broached the issue of funding and no doubt the AL will expect the USG to bear a portion of the costs for any program or initiative. Nevertheless, Yousef appears to have some attractive ideas. At the least, we should encourage the AL Secretariat's positive attitude - Yousef made no mention at all of settlements or the Israeli-Arab conflict during our hour-long meeting.

8.(U) Action request: Please advise which of the areas enumerated by Yousef we should focus on in our next meeting, as well as any counter-proposals or ideas we can pass to him. Tueller