09TBILISI1524, GEORGIA: AMBASSADOR FRIED DISCUSSES GEORGIAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TBILISI1524 2009-08-11 11:45 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO9514
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
DE RUEHSI #1524/01 2231145
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 111145Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2014
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001524 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/08/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: AMBASSADOR FRIED DISCUSSES GEORGIAN 
ACCEPTANCE OF GUANTANAMO DETAINEES 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Kent D. Logsdon for Reasons 1.4 (b) an 
d (d). 
 
1.  (S)  SUMMARY:  During his August 5-6 visit to Tbilisi, 
Special Envoy for Guantanamo Bay Ambassador Daniel Fried 
discussed with a wide-range of Senior Georgian officials the 
details of how Georgia planned to implement its offer to 
accept a number of detainees currently detained at Guantanamo 
Bay who have been approved for transfer to a third country. 
In each meeting, the Georgian government response was one of 
openness and availability to assist the U.S. in closing 
Guantanamo through the placement of specific detainees into 
Georgia.  Logistical details remain; however, it is clear 
that Georgia is prepared to accept at least some of the seven 
candidates presented to them during the Special Envoy,s 
visit and expects to complete its review process and reach 
agreement on transfer by the end of September.  While in 
Tbilisi, Ambassador Fried met with Minister of Foreign 
Affairs Grigol Vashadze, Secretary of the National Security 
Council Eka Tkeshelashvili, Minister of Internal Affairs Vano 
Merabishvili (whose ministry is in the lead on this issue), 
and Minister of Defense David Sikharulidze.  END SUMMARY 
 
Meeting with Foreign Minister Vashadze 
 
2.    (S)  In a broad discussion Special Envoy Ambassador 
Fried provided an overview of the current situation at 
Guantanamo Bay, U.S. government attempts to move, resettle, 
and repatriate current detainees for whom continued detention 
is deemed unnecessary,  and other countries, efforts to 
assist.  In particular, Ambassador Fried focused on the 
efforts of European Union nations to accept detainees. 
Ambassador Fried stressed that UNHCR had concurred with U.S. 
efforts to resettle some detainees and noted the availability 
of a dedicated letter from UNHCR to the Georgian government. 
In an effort to allay concerns that Georgia would be isolated 
in its willingness to accept detainees, Ambassador Fried 
described the willingness of some European nations such as 
Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Belgium and Switzerland (the 
latter two countries want their offers to remain private for 
now), and stressed throughout the meeting that Georgia would 
count itself among many European nations  should it choose to 
assist the United States in this matter.  Ambassador Fried 
stated that the detainees being considered for resettlement 
to Georgia were Tunisians and Libyans, and he noted in the 
interest of full disclosure, that at least one had expressed 
interest in traveling to Chechnya at some point in the past. 
 
3.    (S) Foreign Minister Vashadze emphasized Georgia's 
willingness to assist the U.S. in this area, and noted that 
the Georgian government was prepared to accept detainees 
whenever the logistical details could be worked out between 
MOIA and the State Department.  Specifically, he stated that 
Georgia would take &nearly everybody8 requested.  Vashadze 
strongly believed that openness with regard to the media was 
the best course of action, but deferred to the MOIA.  The 
Foreign Minister stated that there was broad international 
support for closing Guantanamo, and thus no reason not to be 
open and public about the situation. 
 
National Security Council Also Supportive 
 
4.    (S) In a lunch meeting with Secretary of the National 
Security Council Eka Tkeshelashvili, Ambassador Fried covered 
the same points as with the Foreign Minister, while also 
noting details of the background of the prospective detainees 
for Georgia and any potential security risks.  Tkeshelashvili 
was pleased to hear that the plan was not to place the 
Qwas pleased to hear that the plan was not to place the 
detainees in prison while in Georgia, and instead were 
recommended for release with necessary measures implemented 
by the internal security services.  She assured Ambassador 
Fried that Georgia was quite capable and willing to handle 
any detainees which are chosen for resettlement in Georgia. 
 
Meeting with Defense Minister Sikharulidze 
 
5.  (S) Ambassador Fried stressed to Defense Minister 
Sikharulidze the deep involvement of President Obama and Vice 
President Biden in the efforts to close Guantanamo.  He 
appreciated the offer of MoIA Minister Vano Merabashbili two 
months ago, in which he proposed Georgia as a possible 
country for resettlement.  Fried mentioned that seven 
detainee files were already at the MoIA and that he would 
cover the details with Minister Merabishvili.  He stated that 
the proposed detainees are "not saints," but were low level 
fighters of Tunisian and Libyan origin.  Fried further stated 
that if Georgia would prefer "a better group of detainees," 
they could consider the Uighurs, but that that could cause 
them trouble with China. 
 
Merabishvili Ready to Move Quickly -- No to the Uighurs 
 
 
TBILISI 00001524  002 OF 002 
 
 
6.  (S)  In a meeting with Merabishvili, Fried thanked the 
MOIA for its willingness to accept some detainees and 
reiterated points he had made to the other ministers. 
Merabishvili asked what U.S. expectations were for the 
d
etainees and Fried explained that the United States did not 
expect them to remain in custody.  Merabishvili said that it 
would be important to work closely with Minister of 
Corrections and Legal Assistance Dimitry Shashkin whose 
ministry is responsible for probation efforts.  Merabishvili 
was concerned that problems securing Georgia's borders -- 
particularly those with the separatist regions -- could 
present an opportunity for escape.  Fried told the Minister 
that the MOIA may wnt to initially implement strict 
guidelines on travel, as have other European countries 
prepared to accept detainees.  Fried recommended that the 
MOIA plan to interview detainees in Guantanamo (which the USG 
would arrange) and Merabishvili agreed that he would send a 
team in early September.  When asked about the need to 
provide a resettlement package for the detainees, Fried told 
the Minister that the United States has modest funding 
available to assist with the costs of resettling detainees. 
Merabishvili said that the Georgian government would be 
willing to provide an amount commensurate with state 
pensions, but it would be politically difficult to provide 
more to the detainees than to state pensioners. 
 
7.  (S)  Head of the MoIA Analytical Department Shota 
Utiashvili asked if the detainees would apply for asylum in 
Georgia.  Fried responded that the detainees would need a 
category for admittance under Georgian law.  Fried told the 
minister that Uighurs would be an easier project for the MOIA 
but noted potential problems from the Chinese.  Minister 
Merabishvili said that Georgia could not accept Uighurs -- 
China was too important to Georgia, particularly on issues 
related to Central Asia.  Fried told the minister that the 
United States is seeking residences for the detainees with 
security services that are mature enough to handle them in a 
civilized way -- and he noted that at least one of the 
proposed detainees for Georgia had expressed a desire to 
visit Chechnya in the past.  Fried said that we did not want 
to generate additional headaches for Georgia with Russia. 
When asked whether the detainees home countries would accept 
them -- Ambassador Fried said that the Libyans have expressed 
no interest in their citizens return.  Tunisia had expressed 
interest, but given their track record of poor treatment of 
previously-repatriated detainees, it is currently not an 
option for repatriation. 
 
8.  (S)  On a way forward, Merabishvili said that his team 
would develop a list of questions regarding the proposed 
detainees which would be delivered through liaison channels. 
After receiving a response, MoIA would send a team to 
Washington and to Guantanamo Bay in early September to 
continue evaluating the detainees under consideration.  The 
Minister expected to make final decisions by the end of 
September.  Fried again expressed appreciation for Georgia's 
efforts to resettle detainees and acknowledged the 
possibility that those resettled could find a way to leave 
Georgia, though Georgia has the existing infrastructure to 
keep a close watch on the returned detainees which the U.S. 
expected Georgia would employ.  Fried told Merabishvili he 
understood his position on the Uighurs. 
 
9. (U)  Ambassador Fried has cleared this cable. 
LOGSDON

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