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Cablegate: Ambassador Briefs Estonian Mps On U.S. Foreign

Published: Fri 19 Oct 2007 02:02 PM
VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB
DE RUEHTL #0685 2921402
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191402Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0267
UNCLAS TALLINN 000685
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
FOR KATHERINE GEARY EUR/NB
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL AF IZ EN
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR BRIEFS ESTONIAN MPS ON U.S. FOREIGN
POLICY PRIORITIES
1. (SBU) Ambassador briefed Estonian Parliamentarians
October 16 on the U.S.-Estonia relationship. His
presentation, at the invitation of Foreign Affairs
Committee Chair Sven Mikser (Defense Minister from 2002-
2003), informed key members of parliament ahead of
Estonia's decision on whether to extend Estonia's
participation in ongoing military missions, including Iraq
and Afghanistan (both of which expire at the end of the
year). Following Ambassador's remarks, committee members
asked a wide range of questions, covering U.S. policy on
Missile Defense, Ukraine, Georgia, Turkey, Kosovo and
Russia, in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Estonian
MPs were also interested in the possible effect upcoming
U.S. elections will have on U.S. foreign policy.
2. (U) The briefing proved extremely timely when later the
same day the Prime Minister's foreign policy advisor
informed visiting EUR/NB Director Gilchrist and DCM that
the Government of Estonia (GOE) had recently finished the
draft mandate extensions and planned to submit them to
Parliament on October 18.
3. (U) The GOE subsequently approved the draft resolutions
on extending Estonian troops' participation in overseas
military missions. The resolutions must be approved by a
simple majority in the Parliament in order to take effect.
On October 18, Minister of Defense Jaak Aaviksoo commented
that the GOE is not planning to alter the numbers of
Estonian troops participating in the Iraq mission.
Aaviksoo also stated that the GOE shares the U.S. view that
the international military presence in Iraq needs to be
gradually transformed into a civilian mission and noted
that at this time the GOE does not plan to extend Estonia's
Iraq mission beyond 2008.
4. (SBU) Briefing attendees from the FAC included; Sven
Mikser, FAC Chair (Social Democrat), Enn Eesma, FAC Vice-
Chair (Center Party), Valdur Lahtvee (Green Party Faction
Leader), Silver Meikar (Reform Party), Toomas Varek (Center
Party) and Peeter Tulviste (Pro-Patria and Res Publica
Union Party). Three committee members were absent due to
travel and two members were absent due to illness.
5. (U) Accompanying the Ambassador at the briefing were the
EUR/NB Director, DCM, Political/Economic Section Chief,
Defense and Naval Attache, Poloff (note taker) and Pol
Assistant.
6. (U) COMMENT: The MPs clearly welcomed the chance to get
an up-close look at U.S. policy and were impressed by
Ambassador's presentation. While the Iraq mandate,
specifically, remains somewhat controversial in government
circles (and the media), we nonetheless believe its
extension by the Estonian Parliament will be achieved. The
Afghanistan mandate has broad political and popular
support. Post thanks Washington for assistance in
providing the necessary materials to make this briefing
successful. END COMMENT.
Phillips
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