US embassy cable - 06OSLO72 (original version)

AMBASSADOR'S CALL ON DEVELOPMENT MINISTER SOLHEIM (original version)

Identifier: 06OSLO72
Wikileaks: View 06OSLO72 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Oslo
Created: 2006-01-23 12:52:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV PINR CE SU NO
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L  OSLO 000072 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
FOR D AND P 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/20/2016 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, CE, SU, NO 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S CALL ON DEVELOPMENT MINISTER SOLHEIM 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Benson K. Whitney, Reason 1.4 b and d. 
 
1.  (C)  Summary.  The Ambassador made his introductory call 
on International Development Minister Erik Solheim January 19 
and discussed Solheim's upcoming trip to Sri Lanka, the state 
of play in Sudan, and the Minister's development priorities. 
Solheim stressed that he is eager to cooperate with the 
United States, noting that there is only so much Norway can 
do to promote peace around the world.  Ultimately, U.S. 
pressure is usually needed to consolidate any process, 
Solheim commented.  Essentially, Solheim envisions Norway 
having a "complementary role" to U.S. efforts. Solheim spoke 
highly of Deputy Secretary Zoellick's in-depth knowledge of 
Sudan and praised the United States for achieving the 
Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  Solheim welcomed the 
Ambassador's suggestion that we not only continue the close 
cooperation on Sri Lanka and Sudan but also identify new 
areas where we can work together to advance peace and 
development, although he did not see an increased Norwegian 
role in the Caucasus. Solheim bluntly explained that Norway 
needs to be cautious in its approach to the Caucasus given 
that it is Russia's backyard.  End summary. 
 
Sri Lanka: Expectations for Solheim Trip "Too High" 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
2.  (C) Solheim, who is traveling to Colombo January 23-26 
(with a planned stop in New Delhi on his way back to Oslo), 
commented that expectations in the Sri Lankan press have 
gotten way out of hand -- as if his visit would "save" the 
country.  Solheim remarked that ironically, the same people 
who only two months ago were bad mouthing Norway and wanted 
to end the Norwegian mediation role were now counting on 
Solheim to get the peace process back on track.  The Minister 
outlined two basic objectives for his visit: 1) "stabilize 
the ceasefire" and 2) meet the President in his new capacity 
with a view to getting him to fully understand how he can 
advance talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam 
(LTTE).  Solheim explained that he wants to get a 
recommitment to the cease-fire, reduce violations, and move 
the country away from the brink of war.  He added, that while 
he knows the President well and thinks highly of him, 
Rajapaksa in his view is unfamiliar with the complexities of 
the ethnic issues and needs to learn how to best move the 
peace process forward.  Solheim intends to provide Rajapaksa 
the "LTTE perspective." On the question of getting the Sri 
Lankan Government and LTTE to the table, Solheim said that he 
hoped the parties would agree soon to a venue in Europe. 
While not ruling out Oslo, Solheim said that places like 
Sweden, Finland or Switzerland would be better.  Solheim 
noted that he looked forward to comparing notes and 
discussing how best to advance the peace process with U/S 
Burns when they meet in Colombo. 
 
Sudan: Norway Appreciates U.S. Role 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
3.  (C)  Solheim was effusive in his praise for Deputy 
Secretary Zoellick.  Not only was Solheim impressed with the 
 
SIPDIS 
Deputy's knowledge of Sudan but also that it was evident that 
he follows the issue day-to-day -- clearly reflecting the 
high priority the U.S. puts on Sudan.  Solheim commented that 
without the United States, there would not have been a CPA 
and that now the U.S. and Norway need to continue to coax 
both parties, Khartoum and the SPLM, to continue to make 
progress.  He remarked on the desperate state of the South, 
no roads, no infrastructure; noting that it was important 
that peace yield dividends.  With the loss of Dr. Garang, the 
SPLM needs to consolidate its power and that is where Norway 
will focus its efforts.  Solheim remains concerned about what 
he referred to as the "spoilers," i.e., paramilitary groups 
such as the Lord's Resistance Army, and the situation in 
Darfur.  Solheim added that the situation in Sudan remains 
"dangerous," stressing that it will require continued intense 
attention.  Solheim thanked us for supporting Tom Vraalsen 
for leader of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission, 
remarking that without the U.S. it would not have happened. 
Vraalsen is a good man, he added, and an expert on Sudan. 
 
4.  (C)  On Darfur, Solheim believes the humanitarian 
situation has improved but that security remains a difficult 
problem.  Solheim praised Deputy Secretary Zoellick for his 
efforts to force the various guerrilla groups to adopt 
serious positions in peace negotiations, noting that the 
situation will not improve until people feel safe to return 
to their homes. 
 
No Global Strategy 
- - - - - - - - - - 
 
5.  (C)  Responding to the Ambassador's question as to where 
Solheim saw Norway concentrating its development efforts 
under the new Stoltenberg government, Solheim readily 
acknowledged that he did not have a global strategy.  In 
fact, Solheim said Norway was prepared to help anywhere where 
parties in conflict would want Norwegian participation.  The 
Ambassador suggested that perhaps Norway could do more to 
advance democracy and stability in the Caucasus.  Solheim 
bluntly replied that Norway had to be careful about getting 
involved in the Caucasus for fear of upsetting the Russians. 
Solheim noted that as a neighbor to Russia, Norway needs to 
proceed carefully in the Russian sphere of influence and all 
but ruled out any significant engagement in the Caucasus. 
That said, the rest of the world is game and we should 
consider where we can do more together. 
 
Comment 
- - - - 
 
6.  (C)  It is a ironic that despite being a minister from 
the far-left Socialist Left Party, Solheim (after FM Stoere), 
is the cabinet member most interested in working with us. 
One big reason for this is that his experience working with 
us on Sri Lanka has been extremely positive; another is that 
he realizes that he can do more as a peace broker if he has 
the U.S. as a closer.  We believe Solheim can continue to be 
a good partner and that we should seize opportunities to 
engage him in areas where we think he can contribute, 
particularly given Norway's deep aid pockets.  It is clear 
that Solheim sees himself more as someone who will push peace 
initiatives than run development assistance programs. 
 
7.  (C)   We have been pushing Norway to do more in the 
Caucasus for some time but to no avail.  Solheim's  direct 
reply on concerns over alienating Russia is the first time we 
have been told the real reason.  Norwegian officials are 
always quick to point to their excellent ties to Russia but 
rarely come out and say that they want to be careful not to 
irritate the bear.  Privately, however, Norwegians 
acknowledge that they remain concerned over Russia and worry 
about some day returning to having an unfriendly neighbor -- 
hence the importance they place on NATO and their interest in 
making sure the United States becomes engaged on High North 
issues.  Norway's objective is to ensure that the U.S. is 
available and ready to help reign in any Russian 
aggressiveness/misbehavior in the Barents region. 
Visit Oslo's Classified website: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/oslo/index.cf m 
 
WHITNEY 
 
 
NNNN 

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