09ASTANA435, KAZAKHSTAN: DFM ZHIGALOV SAYS KAZAKHSTAN WOULD

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA435 2009-03-12 07:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO7309
OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHNP RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #0435/01 0710728
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 120728Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4874
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1341
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0720
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0407
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1423
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2532
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2202
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0902
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0815

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ASTANA 000435 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, EUR/RPM, EUR/RUS, DRL/IRF, EEB 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2029 
TAGS: PREL PINR ETRD KNNP KIRF OSCE NATO AF RS KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN:  DFM ZHIGALOV SAYS KAZAKHSTAN WOULD 
WELCOME POTUS VISIT, EXPRESSES CONCERNS ABOUT WTO TALKS 
 
REF: A. ASTANA 0319 
     B. ASTANA 0412 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland, 1.4 (b,d) 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  New Deputy Foreign Minister Konstantin 
Zhigalov told the Ambassador on March 11 that Kazakhstan 
would very much welcome a POTUS visit.  He said Kazakhstan 
attaches great importance to hosting the Euro-Atlantic 
Partnership Council's Security Forum in June.  Zhigalov 
explained that the Kazakhstanis hope to finalize a NATO 
transit agreement for Afghanistan before the Forum, and 
expressed concerns about the Taliban reconciliation process. 
He promised Kazakhstan would be an honest broker as OSCE 
chairman.  Zhigalov complained about the pace of Kazakhstan's 
WTO accession negotiations, arguing that some countries do 
not understand Kazakhstan's concerns.  He reiterated the 
MFA's strong support for the ratification of the the 
Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) agreement.  END SUMMARY. 
 
LOOKING FORWARD TO A POTUS VISIT 
 
2. (C) During a March 11 introductory meeting, new Deputy 
Foreign Minister Konstantin Zhigalov told the Ambassador that 
Kazakhstan very much appreciated the early phone call in 
November from then President-elect Obama to President 
Nazarbayev.  "This was a very good signal," he explained, 
Zhigalov said Kazakhstan looks forward to hosting a POTUS 
visit, which would be a "great impetus" for the bilateral 
relationship. 
 
3. (C) The Ambassador handed Zhigalov a copy of the 
Secretary's response to Foreign Minister Tazhin's invitation 
for her to attend the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council's 
Security Forum, which is being hosted by Kazakhstan June 
24-25.  He noted that her reply confirmed that the U.S. 
government would participate.  Zhigalov, who until February 
was head of Kazakhstan's mission to NATO and the EU (as well 
as ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg), stressed that the 
Security Forum is very important for Kazakhstan.  The first 
Security Forum was held in Sweden and the second in 
Macedonia, he explained, and thus this is the first time the 
event will be held in a CIS country.   Kazakhstan is a 
logical host, he continued, since it is the only Central 
Asian country with a NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan 
(IPAP). 
 
CONCERNS ABOUT AFGHANISTAN 
 
4. (C) Zhigalov said Kazakhstan hopes to finalize an 
agreement with NATO on NATO transit of supplies to 
Afghanistan before the Security Forum.  He explained that in 
addition to sending several officers to ISAF headquarters, 
Kazakhstan is still considering deploying a medical unit to 
Afghanistan.  Zhigalov said he had taken note of Vice 
President Biden's March 10 remarks on the Taliban at the 
North Atlantic Council.  "I think Afghan President Karzai has 
a different view on this issue," he explained, "I suggest you 
meet with the new Afghan Ambassador to Kazakhstan, whose 
credentials I just accepted."  (NOTE:  Foreign Minister 
Tazhin has previously expressed concern that Karzai might 
take Taliban reconciliation too far, including inviting the 
Taliban's core leadership to join an Afghan coalition 
government.  See ref A.  END NOTE.) 
 
"HONEST BROKER" AS OSCE CHAIRMAN 
 
5. (C) Zhigalov noted that Tazhin hopes to visit the United 
States in May, though the exact dates have not yet been set. 
This visit, he stressed, will be important for the bilateral 
relationship and will be an opportunity to discuss 
Kazakhstan's agenda for its 2010 OSCE chairmanship, which 
 
ASTANA 00000435  002 OF 003 
 
 
will include a focus on Afghanistan.   Zhigalov reassured the 
Ambassador about the chairmanship, saying, "To be frank, 
there's been much speculation because of our special 
relationship with Russia.  But Kazakhstan will play the role 
of an honest broker as chairman.  We learned a lot from our 
participation in the OSCE quintet."  Zhigalov argued that 
Kazakhstan will bring some advantages to the table, 
explaining, "We know the mentality of the eastern countries 
better than some of our OSCE counterparts." 
 
6. (C) The Ambassador asked about Kazakhstan's position on &#x000
A;Russia's proposal to begin discussion of a new European 
security pact, adding that the United States is seeking more 
concrete information about the proposal.  Zhigalov responded 
that Kazakhstan also needs more information.  He noted Tazhin 
was actually about to depart for Moscow for bilateral 
meetings, after which he will go to Brussels for an EU Troika 
gathering which Zhigalov will also attend. 
 
7. (C) Acknowledging Kazakhstan's special relationship with 
Russia, which the United States does not dispute, the 
Ambassador suggested Kazakhstan could perhaps play a positive 
role as Washington and Moscow work to redevelop their 
relationship.  Zhigalov responded that Astana very much wants 
to see a better U.S.-Russia relationship because it would 
benefit all.  However, Kazakhstan in a "go between" role 
would not be optimal, he said, because Astana would not 
relish being "the meat in the sandwich" -- i.e., would not 
care to be squeezed between Moscow and Washington. 
 
CONGRESS OF RELIGIONS ALSO IMPORTANT 
 
8. (C) Zhigalov said that shortly after the Euro-Atlantic 
Partnership Council's Security Forum, Astana would be hosting 
the third Congress of World and Traditional Religions. 
(NOTE: The Congress is an initiative of President Nazarbayev 
that was launched in 2003.  It meets on a triennial basis. 
END NOTE.)  "This will also be a very important event for 
us," Zhigalov argued, "Tolerance is going to be one of our 
OSCE pillars.  Please give this event your attention."  The 
Ambassador said the United States applauds Kazakhstan's 
history of tolerance, but does have some concern about the 
treatment of some minority religions.  Zhigalov responded 
sardonically, "Sometimes the best is the enemy of the good." 
 
COMPLAINTS ABOUT WTO ACCESSION PROCESS 
 
9. (C) The Ambassador explained to Zhigalov that Prime 
Minister Masimov had asked for a message -- in the form of a 
phone call -- from a senior U.S. official reaffirming the 
U.S. commitment to Kazakhstan's WTO accession.  SCA A/S 
Boucher is ready to make that call, but Masimov has 
apparently been too busy the past two weeks to take it. 
Zhigalov said he was aware of the Ambassador's discussion 
with Masimov and indicated the phone call is a good idea. 
 
10. (C) Zhigalov then explained that in Brussels, he had been 
involved in Kazakhstan's WTO accession talks with the EU, and 
had had an "intensive dialogue" on the issue with former EC 
Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelsohn, with Kazakhstan awaiting 
a response from Mandelsohn's successor, Catherine Ashton. 
Zhigalov complained that those talks had "reached their 
limit" and said Kazakhstan's accession is now more about a 
"political decision" than about expert talks.  "This was my 
cup of tea," he told the Ambassador, "and it's clear some 
countries don't understand our concerns.  We are asking for a 
better understanding.  Look at China and its huge labor 
force.  It may not be a problem for Europe, but if we were to 
give China free access to our labor marker, it would be a big 
problem for us."  Zhigalov continued, "I'm occasionally asked 
about the customs union with 'some other countries'" -- 
meaning the proposed Russia-Belarus- Kazakhstan customs union 
 
ASTANA 00000435  003 OF 003 
 
 
-- "but the fact is that those countries know what they want, 
and they deliver very quickly." 
 
SUPPORT FOR CTR AGREEMENT RATIFICATION 
 
11. (C) The Ambassador noted that the Cooperative Threat 
Reduction (CTR) agreement is currently under consideration in 
the Mazhilis -- the lower house of parliament -- and said we 
hope it is ratified very quickly.  Zhigalov responded that 
the MFA cannot put direct pressure on parliament, but said 
the MFA is watching the process closely and strongly supports 
ratification.  The Ambassador noted Senate Chairman Tokayev 
had given him his personal word on March 5 that agreement 
would be ratified (ref B).  Zhigalov smiled, "Tokayev is not 
like (former Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey) Gromyko.  If he 
said yes, he meant it." 
 
12. (C) COMMENT:  Zhigalov is one of the very few ethnic 
Russians in the MFA's top leadership.  The fact that he is 
married to an ethnic Kazakh may have given him a leg up.  The 
49-year-old Zhigalov, who speaks excellent English, was very 
well prepared for the Ambassador's meeting.  He did not shy 
away from doing some name dropping, especially noting senior 
U.S. diplomats with whom he is on good terms.  The Ambassador 
had met Zhigalov the night before at an EU dinner in honor of 
visiting Special Representative for Central Asia Pierre 
Morel, and so has now observed Zhigalov in both a diplomatic 
social setting and a more formal office discussion.  Zhigalov 
appears to be highly intelligent, cosmopolitan, and a bit 
sardonic -- in short, a true professional and an excellent 
intellectual sparring partner.  END COMMENT. 
HOAGLAND

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