US embassy cable - 02COLOMBO2323

During Mission visit, Maldivian MFA says it is carefully reviewing proposed ICC Article 98 agreement

Identifier: 02COLOMBO2323
Wikileaks: View 02COLOMBO2323 at
Origin: Embassy Colombo
Created: 2002-12-18 11:25:00
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Tags: PREL PGOV PTER ECON MV KICC UN Maldives Human Rights
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 002323 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  12-18-12 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, ECON, MV, KICC, UN, Maldives, Human Rights 
SUBJECT:  During Mission visit, Maldivian MFA says it is 
carefully reviewing proposed ICC Article 98 agreement 
Refs:  (A) Colombo 2180, and previous 
-      (B) State 250990 
-      (C) State 243173 
-      (D) Colombo 1926 (All Notal) 
(U) Classified by Lewis Amselem, Deputy Chief of Mission. 
Reasons 1.5 (b, d). 
1.  (S/NF) SUMMARY:  During a December 17 meeting in 
Male, Polchief urged the Maldivian government to sign an 
ICC Article 98 agreement with the U.S.  MFA Permanent 
Secretary Shaheed replied that the GoRM continued to 
review the proposal, which it viewed in a "favorable 
light."  Shaheed made a strong pitch for a meeting 
between Presidents Bush and Gayoom next year.  He 
appreciated the information about Guantanamo access and 
urged the U.S. to continue to support the Maldives' 
designation as a "developing country" at the UN.  In our 
estimation, after repeated USG efforts, the Maldivians 
seem to be inclining toward possibly concluding an 
Article 98 agreement, but their review of the issue will 
take time.  END SUMMARY. 
Proposed ICC Article 98 Agreement 
2.  (C) Polchief visited the Maldives, December 16-17. 
During a December 17 meeting in Male, he discussed 
several pressing bilateral issues with Dr. Ahmed 
Shaheed, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs.  (Note:  See Septel re the Maldivian 
domestic political situation, including the upcoming 
presidential selection process.)  The first issue raised 
in the meeting involved the U.S. proposal that the 
Maldives sign an International Criminal Court (ICC) 
Article 98 agreement.  As the Deputy Secretary, SA A/S 
Rocca, and Mission have done repeatedly (see Ref A), 
Polchief reiterated U.S. arguments urging the Maldives 
to sign such an agreement as soon as possible.  Polchief 
noted that Sri Lanka, a close friend of the Maldives, 
had signed such an agreement on November 22.  The 
Maldives would gain significant credit with the U.S. the 
sooner it joined with us on this vital issue. 
3.  (C) In response, Shaheed said the GoRM continued to 
carefully review the proposal, which it viewed in a 
"favorable light."  Additional Maldivian intra- 
governmental study was necessary, however.  This review 
would take at least several weeks.  One of the reasons 
the review would take time was the fact that President 
Gayoom had a busy travel schedule and would only be back 
in Male in mid-January.  Polchief asked whether any 
additional information re the U.S. proposal was needed. 
Shaheed replied that the GoRM had enough information at 
this point, and was just weighing whether the U.S. 
proposal "conformed with Maldivian law" and was in the 
country's "foreign policy interest."  (Note:  Ambassador 
Wills plans to visit the Maldives in the January 
timeframe and will take up the Article 98 issue with top 
GoRM officials then, if it has not yet been settled.) 
Request for Meeting with President Bush 
4.  (C) Shifting focus, Shaheed noted President Gayoom's 
strong interest in meeting with President Bush next year 
(see Ref D).  Shaheed remarked that no GoRM leader had 
ever had the privilege of meeting an American President 
since the country obtained independence from Britain in 
1965.  President Gayoom, who had been in office almost 
25 years, would deeply appreciate the honor of even a 
very short meeting.  The planned visit to the U.S. was a 
part of a larger visit to Western Europe, and the GoRM 
was confident that PM Blair and President Chirac would 
meet with Gayoom.  Shaheed added that President Gayoom 
was up for re-election next year and, as a politician, a 
meeting with President Bush was especially important to 
him at this time.  (Note:  Gayoom has been in power 
since 1978.  Per the Maldives' presidential selection 
system, a popular referendum on the nominee of the 
Parliament for the next five-year term in office is 
scheduled to take place in mid-2003.  Per Septel, Gayoom 
has not formally announced his candidacy, but he is 
widely expected to run again.)  Polchief replied that 
the U.S. is reviewing the Maldivian request, and will 
get back to the GoRM at a later date.  Polchief also 
provided Shaheed the original copy of the letter to 
President Gayoom from President Bush, which was 
contained in Ref C. 
Guantanamo Access 
5.  (S/NF) Per Ref B, Polchief reviewed with Shaheed the 
information the GoRM has to provide the USG re the one- 
to-three-person delegation it wants to send to 
Guantanamo.  (Note:  The GoRM has requested access to 
Ibrahim Fawzy, a prisoner held at Guantanamo who is a 
Maldivian national.)  Shaheed said the government will 
gather the information needed and provide it to the USG 
as soon as possible.  He expected that the officials on 
the proposed GoRM team would be from the National 
Security Service (NSS).  (Note:  DATT met with the Chief 
of the NSS last week and offered to escort to Guantanamo 
any NSS officials the GoRM chooses to send there, should 
the visit be approved.)  (Note:  In a separate meeting, 
a NSS representative told Polchief that Fawzy is from 
Baa Atoll located to the northwest of Male and had no 
record of previous extremist behavior.  Fawzy went to 
study in Pakistan some time back and the GoRM had lost 
track of him there.  Mission is also faxing to SA/INS an 
undated report that surfaced on the anti-GoRM website 
"Sandhaanu" re the Fawzy matter.) 
"Developing Country" Designation 
6.  (SBU) The final matter discussed at the meeting 
concerned the Maldivian government's desire that it 
continue to be designated a "LDC" (less developed 
country) for purposes of the UN.  Shaheed said the issue 
was due to be reviewed again in the UN Committee for 
Development Policy (CDP) in April 2003.  Shaheed said 
the GoRM would appreciate strong U.S. support on this 
issue, as it had received in the past.  Polchief replied 
that the U.S. wanted to be helpful, but was still 
reviewing the issue.  Any additional information the 
GoRM could provide re its position would be greatly 
appreciated.  Shaheed said the MFA would send Mission a 
detailed rationale of its stance soon.  (Note:  In a 
meeting with Polchief, UN Resident Coordinator Minh Pham 
related that he thought there was strong support at the 
UN for the Maldives' receiving another three-year 
extension in LDC status.  He thought that some 
countries' would demand that the GoRM develop an "exit 
strategy," however, given rising economic indicators.) 
7.  (C/NF) In our estimation, after repeated USG 
efforts, the Maldivians seem to be inclining toward 
possibly concluding an Article 98 agreement with the 
U.S.  Their review of the issue will take time, however: 
Gayoom is out of the country a great deal and things 
just move slowly in the Maldives.  As we have emphasized 
before, Mission recommends strongly a brief meeting for 
Gayoom with President Bush next year, if at all 
possible.  Relations between the U.S. and the Maldives, 
a moderate Islamic country, have drawn closer since 
September 11, 2001, and we think that even a brief 
meeting would bring ties to another plane altogether. 
Such a meeting would also help in terms of solidifying 
Maldivian agreement to blanket overflight and ship 
clearances, which might prove especially important 
should there be a confrontation with Iraq (the Maldives 
archipelago lies astride important Indian Ocean sea- 
lanes and is located due north of Diego Garcia).  We 
also recommend favorable consideration of the Maldives' 
request for continued "developing country" status at the 
UN, which is an issue of the highest import to the 
government.  END COMMENT. 
8.  (U) Minimize considered. 

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