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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06THEHAGUE2282 2006-10-20 11:11 2011-01-22 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy The Hague
DE RUEHTC #2282/01 2931153
O 201153Z OCT 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 THE HAGUE 002282 




E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/20/2016 

Classified By: Ambassador Roland Arnall, reasons 1.4 (b,d) 


1. (C) Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot's upcoming visit to 
Washington DC comes just one month before national elections. 
It therefore provides an excellent opportunity to move some 
difficult issues forward in a way that helps ensure that the 
next Dutch government, whatever its configuration, comes into 
office on a positive note with regard to the bilateral 
relationship. Although we have had, and will continue to 
have, differences with the Dutch on a variety of issues, they 
remain one of our staunchest allies in continental Europe, 
willing to put their credibility, resources, and even troops 
on the line again and again to support transatlantic 
objectives. Bot's support was critical in the Dutch 
decisions to deploy troops to Afghanistan, to participate in 
UNIFIL, and to provide significant assistance to Darfur. He 
has also been an outspoken advocate of tougher measures to 
restrain North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions, and is a 
strong supporter of our goals for the 2006 NATO summit. 

2. (C) The current government's close ties to the U.S. have 
not been without cost to the coalition government or to Bot 
personally. Parliamentary and public concerns about 
Guantanamo/Detainee issues, in particular, have put Bot in 
the uncomfortable position of having to defend the bilateral 
relationship in Parliament while carrying out explicit 
parliamentary instructions to criticize U.S. policies at 
every opportunity. John Bellinger's successful visit here 
October 10-11 helped shift our bilateral discussions in a 
more positive direction, and Bot has expressed strong 
interest in continuing the dialogue; we need to move quickly 
to exploit this opening to support our broader efforts to 
influence Dutch and European opinion. 

3. (C) In addition to his meeting with you, Bot has meetings 
with Sen. Chuck Hagel, Deputy NSA Crouch, and Deputy 
Secretary of Defense England on Oct. 23. He will also give a 

press conference and attend a dinner hosted by the American 
Enterprise Institute on transatlantic relations. On Oct. 24, 
Bot will meet with Deputy NSA Eliott Abrams, deliver a speech 
at Georgetown University on Saving Democracy in a World of 
Change, and attend a lunch at the Dutch ambassador's 
residence on Afghanistan. While Afghanistan, 
Guantanamo/Detainee issues, and the upcoming Riga summit will 
be the main items on his agenda, Bot will also be interested 
in hearing about your recent visit to the Middle East. This 
cable contains brief summaries of the current state of play 
of these and several other issues -- North Korea/Iran, 
Venezuela, Sudan, the Human Rights Council, Joint Strike 
Fighter, and Law Enforcement cooperation -- as viewed from 
The Hague. 


4. (C) Bot's visit to Washington comes against the backdrop 
of the November 22 national elections, in which Bot's 
governing Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA) has recently 
pulled from behind to run neck-in-neck with the opposition 
Labor Party (PvdA). Regardless of which party gains the most 
seats in the next parliament, the next Dutch government -- 
like all previous Dutch governments -- will be a coalition, 
probably containing at least one of the current government's 
two center-right parties (CDA and VVD), either governing 
together or individually in partnership with the PvdA. For 
that reason alone, it is clear that many of the current 
government's policies will continue. In the heat of a hotly 
contested campaign, however, opposition candidates will 
continue to exploit perceived weaknesses in the 
Bot/Balkenende foreign policy for political gain, and Bot 
will feel compelled to respond -- sometimes in ways that 
appear unnecessarily critical of the U.S. While we enjoy 
excellent working relations with the Dutch on a wide range of 
issues around the world -- including, most obviously, in 
Afghanistan -- we should not underestimate the level of 
public frustration with U.S. policies or the current 
government's hyper-sensitivity to criticism from a volatile 
and divided electorate. 

5. (C) Bot could retain the Foreign Minister portfolio in any 
future coalition government in which CDA is a partner. 
Although Bot wants the job, however, he faces stiff 
competition, including from within his own party, as Maxim 

THE HAGUE 00002282 002 OF 004 

Verhagen, the CDA's leader in parliament, is also a prime 
contender. Bot is actively using visits such as this one to 
demonstrate his value to his party and the general 
electorate. By choosing not to stand for parliament 
personally, he may also hope to remain somewhat above 
politics in order to make himself more attractive to 
potential coalition partners. Even if it turns out to be a 
last hurrah, a successful visit to the U.S. at this moment 
is important to Bot personally, to the Balkenende government, 
and for the bilateral relationship in general. 


6. (C) Despite a contentious parliamentary debate last winter 
and low public support, the Dutch deployment to Uruzgan as 
part of NATO's ISAF III mission has not emerged as a 
difficult election issue for the current government -- at 
least not yet. In retrospect, the lengthy debate, in which 
the PvdA ultimately voted in favor of the deployment despite 
serious reservations, effectively neutralized most serious 
critics of the mission early and locked all the major parties 
into supportive positions. In an effort to destroy this 
consensus, opposition parties to the left of Labor, notably 
GreenLeft and the Socialist Party, have argued noisily that 
the GONL has failed in its promise to maintain a clear line 
between ISAF and OEF operations, and that the focus of the 
mission has shifted from reconstruction -- which the public 
largely supports -- to a far more controversial combat 
mission. So far, however, PvdA politicians have not taken 
the bait, and the GONL has effectively countered these 
charges by stressing that a secure environment is necessary 
for any effective reconstruction effort, and that Dutch 
military forces are fully prepared to deal with the 
challenges they face. 

7. (C) Meanwhile, the Dutch have performed well in the field, 
engaging and killing the enemy. That said, the Dutch 
continue to place a higher emphasis on hearts and minds 
reconstruction efforts than on the hunt for terrorists -- 
combat missions have been largely reactive instead of 
proactive. They are set to take over regional command in the 
south in November. The Dutch have not suffered any 
casualties as a result of enemy fire -- an F-16 crash and 
apparent suicide are the only casualties thus far. Some 
speculate a high casualty count might put Afghanistan back in 
play for the elections. FM Bot should be congratulated and 
encouraged for the Dutch deployment and performance in 
Uruzgan as they continue to punch above their weight. Bot 
most likely will raise increased security along the Pakistani 


8. (C) This is perhaps the most difficult issue in our 
bilateral relationship right now. All major parties, 
including the CDA, condemned the recent revelations of secret 
prisons and continue to demand that Guantanamo Bay be closed 
-- without offering credible alternatives. Bot has been at 
the center of this particular storm, repeatedly called to 
testify before Parliament to defend the bilateral 
relationship in the face of the widely-shared perception that 
the U.S. is not abiding by international law -- an especially 
sensitive issue for the Dutch, who are proud of The Hague's 
traditional role as the preeminent center of international 
law -- and ignoring the concerns of allies. Bot has received 
explicit instructions from Parliament to raise detainee 
issues bilaterally and in international fora including the EU 
GAERC and NATO NAC; he has done so with a vigor bordering on 
obsession. That said, a recent visit to The Hague by John 
Bellinger and other senior officials appears to have made 
modest inroads into Bot's thinking. and he now supports 
continuing a serious dialogue to find legally viable, long 
term solutions to the detainee issue, including revisiting 
portions of the Geneva Conventions. Since Bot expects to 
speak publicly about the issue during his visit, it would be 
useful to re-emphasize in your meeting with him that the 
Military Commissions Act provides every detainee in 
Guantanamo some means of judicial review and that the secret 
prisons remain subject to Congressional oversight and U.S. 

NATO/Riga Summit 

THE HAGUE 00002282 003 OF 004 

9. (C) The GONL for the most part agrees with our Riga Summit 
goals, including especially the need to demonstrate progress 
in Afghanistan. The Dutch have been supporters of our global 
partnership initiative, although they have previously 
expressed concern that building stronger ties with security 
providers might create first- and second-class partnerships 
at the expense of security consumers. The Dutch strongly 
support a single tool box from which all interested parties 
might seek to enhance ties with NATO. They are conscious of 
other Allied concerns -- notably France -- regarding the use 
of global terminology. They advise at Riga an understated 
and fact-oriented approach to NATO's role as a global player 
to garner French support for initiative. 

10. (C) The Dutch also are with us when it comes to the nuts 
and bolts for Riga -- it's the whither NATO question that 
causes consternation. They support various military 
capability enhancement initiatives, including the C-17 
consortium, the special operations center, and the Middle 
East training center, and eventually supported Intensified 
Dialogue (ID) for Georgia. That said, the Dutch are 
concerned about the direction of NATO and remain leery of 
enlargement plans. While the MFA working level has been 
supportive of Croatia's membership aspirations, Bot and 
Political Director Pieter de Gooijer believe the EU and NATO 
are expanding too quickly. They have called for an Allied 
existential discussion to determine NATO's path, both at Riga 
and at subsequent summits in 2008 and 2009. Following the 
President's recent announcement, Bot's visit provides an 
excellent opportunity to make a pitch for Croatian NATO 
membership at the 2008 summit. 

Lebanon/Middle East Peace Process 

11. (C) The Dutch are contributing a 150-person frigate as 
part of the maritime component of UNIFIL. But MFA Head of 
Middle Eastern Affairs Henriette van Lynden-Leijten told 
Ambassador Arnall October 17 the Dutch are taking a 
step-by-step approach to the Middle East, especially 
regarding Syria and Lebanon, to determine where the Dutch 
might have value added. This involves a review of possible 
options, including better cooperation with the Middle East 
Quartet, more meetings with moderate Arab states, and better 
definitions of end goals. She added, however, that Dutch 
influence over Syria has been clouded by a contentious 
custody case involving two Dutch-Syrian children currently 
encamped at the Dutch embassy in Damascus. Otherwise, van 
Lynden-Leijten said Bot has excellent relations in the Middle 
East, and will no doubt ask for a readout on the Secretary's 
recent trip to the region. Bot should be encouraged to take 
a greater role, especially with regard to influencing the EU. 

North Korea/Iran 

12. (C) The GONL -- and Bot in particular -- share our deep 
concern over nuclear developments in North Korea and Iran. 
Bot publicly labeled North Korea's nuclear test 
irresponsibly provocative and totally senseless, and 
called for Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks. He 
also said the use of force would be counterproductive, given 
the large population in nearby Seoul, and suggested China was 
crucial in getting North Korea to return to the table. While 
the Dutch continue to push for a diplomatic resolution, they 
worry about the message the international community is 
sending to Iran and its nuclear program. Although publicly 
supportive of the EU-3's efforts to engage Iran, in private 
he has frequently expressed frustration at being left out of 
the process. Recently, he called publicly for the UN 
Security Council to become directly involved given the 
apparent lack of progress on the EU track. The Dutch have 
offered on several occasions to play a more active role on 
the margins of the six-party talks and in dealing with Iran, 
suggesting that any and all diplomatic pressure would be 
helpful in persuading these states to abandon their current 
courses. Bot should be encouraged to continue to press EU 
members to engage on North Korea and Iran. 

Venezuela and Latin America 

13. (C) As Venezuela's neighbor -- the Netherlands Antilles 
and Aruba sit just off the Venezuelan coast -- the Dutch are 

THE HAGUE 00002282 004 OF 004 

understandably worried about Chavez' intentions, but also go 
to great lengths to avoid provoking him. For example, the 
Dutch were unwilling to lobby on behalf of Guatemala for the 
UN Security Council or otherwise draw attention to their 
intention to vote against Venezuela. They have significant 
interests in Venezuela, including a new Shell exploration 
concession and a major subcontract on new light frigates. 
While the Dutch posture toward Venezuela is less forward 
leaning than we would like - and while Bot has at times made 
statements we consider unhelpful - the Dutch have been 
leaders within the EU on other regional issues. Dutch 
participation in Colombian paramilitary reintegration, coca 
eradication efforts, Nicaraguan election monitoring, and 
other regional initiatives has been superb. On Cuba and 
other Latin American issues, they have been a useful 
counterbalance to traditional Spanish sway within the EU. 

Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) 

14. (C) The Dutch Parliament is expected on October 24 to 
approve the GONL's signing of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) 
Production, Sustainment, and Follow-on Development (PSFD) 
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). A solid majority in 
Parliament supports the GONL's continued participation in 
JSF, while the Dutch press views MOU signature as a foregone 
conclusion. The MOU signing ceremony hosted by Deputy 
Secretary of Defense England is planned for November 14 in 

the Pentagon. Dutch State Secretary of Defense van der Knaap 
and Foreign Trade Minister van Gennip are expected to 
represent the GONL. The Dutch and Italian governments are 
considering a joint signing ceremony, although this has not 
yet been confirmed. 


15. (C) Dutch financial contributions to Sudan relief, 
development and peacekeeping, exceed all but our own, on a 
per capita basis. We have worked extremely closely with the 
MFA and Development Minister Ardenne (Bot's close colleague) 
on Darfur and southern Sudan. The Dutch have been close 
allies on several other regional initiatives, including 
efforts to deal with the Lords' Resistance Army in Uganda, 
promote reconciliation and intelligence cooperation in the 
Great Lakes, train peacekeepers, and develop effective 
HIV/AIDS programs. Van Ardenne, rather than Bot, takes the 
lead on these issues. 

Human Rights Council 

16. (C) Bot would like the U.S. to run for the HRC in 2007. 
The Dutch worked very closely with our mission in Geneva this 
fall and were among our closest EU allies during the 
Israel/Lebanon debates - this despite severe criticism at 
home, both of Bot and Israel. He is committed to HRC reform, 
and frustrated by the course of events so far, but believes 
like-minded nations can best protect their interests and 
effect change by remaining involved. 

Law Enforcement Issues 

17. (SBU) Attorney General Gonzales will visit The Hague a 
few days after your meeting with Bot. Gonzales will open a 
bilateral conference on cyber crime that the Embassy is 
co-sponsoring with the Dutch Justice Ministry. The 
conference will spur our bilateral cooperation on high-tech 
crime, which is emerging as a priority for the law 
enforcement communities in both countries. Law enforcement 
cooperation is good and getting better. While bureaucratic 
and privacy restrictions continue to hamper some direct 
police-to-police cooperation, we have made significant 
advances in the last two years. In particular, Dutch efforts 
to stem the flow of ecstasy to the United States have 
resulted in dramatic declines in the volume of Dutch-linked 
ecstasy seized in the U.S. since 2000. Cooperation with DEA 
on narcotics, and the FBI on cyber crime and 
counter-terrorism investigations, is excellent.