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Viewing cable 08REYKJAVIK71, ABBAS STOPOVER IN ICELAND: SPECIAL ENVOY APPOINTED,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08REYKJAVIK71 2008-04-23 19:07 2011-01-13 05:05 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Reykjavik
VZCZCXRO6166
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHRK #0071/01 1141917
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 231917Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3633
INFO RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0013
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0003
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 REYKJAVIK 000071 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/NB, NEA[BRE2]/PA, NEA/IPA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PINR KPAL KWBG IS XF IC
SUBJECT: ABBAS STOPOVER IN ICELAND: SPECIAL ENVOY APPOINTED, 
REYKJAVIK SUMMIT IDEA FLOATED 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary:  In a short-notice visit, Palestinian Authority 
President Mahmoud Abbas overnighted in Iceland April 21-22, meeting 
with Icelandic President Grimsson and Foreign Minister Gisladottir. 
At the ceremonial lunch with Grimsson, Abbas lauded the 
contributions of small states like Iceland in the Middle East Peace 
Process, a theme he reiterated at a press conference after meeting 
with Foreign Minister Gisladottir.  For her part, Gisladottir named 
Iceland's first Special Envoy to the Palestinian Authority, as part 
of the Government's increased humanitarian and development 
assistance efforts announced last year.  Abbas cited the 1986 
"Reykjavik Summit" as a specific example of how Iceland as a small 
state could be involved in the peace process, which generated 
considerable press interest and speculation.  After a readout from 
the Ministry's Political Director, details of Iceland's new policy 
moves remain somewhat sketchy, but they are clearly in line with 
this Government's push to increase its presence on the international 
stage.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (U) On April 21, Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson's 
office announced that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 
would arrive in Iceland that evening for a visit en route to his 
Washington meetings with President Bush.  Grimsson hosted Abbas for 
lunch on April 22, after which Abbas met with Icelandic Foreign 
Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir. 
 
3.  (SBU) The Grimsson-Abbas lunch was largely ceremonial in nature, 
in keeping with Grimsson's minimal policy role in the Icelandic 
system.  However, both leaders used the occasion as an opportunity 
for declarations of mutual Icelandic-Palestinian support and desires 
for peace in the Middle East. 
 
4.  (SBU) FM Gisladottir, in contrast, used her meeting with Abbas 
as a platform to unveil several new policy initiatives, building 
upon her trip to the region last fall and the MFA's announcement at 
the December Paris Donors' Conference of a four-fold increase in aid 
to the Palestinian people.  Gisladottir notified Abbas (and 
subsequently the media) that she has appointed Iceland's first 
special envoy, Thordur Aegir Oskarsson, to the Palestinian 
Authority. In a readout meeting with Charge on April 23, MFA 
Political Director Greta Gunnarsdottir noted that the special envoy, 
a career diplomat who is now Iceland's Ambassador to Japan, would 
travel frequently to the region to oversee Iceland's increased 
assistance to the Palestinian Authority.  He would work closely with 
international organizations and NGOs already administering 
humanitarian and development programs in the Palestinian area.  The 
envoy will be accredited to the Palestinian Authority and will not 
liaise with the Israelis.  She said, "There will be a distinct 
division of labor" and that Icelandic-Israeli relations will 
continue to be managed by Iceland's Ambassador resident in 
Copenhagen. 
 
5.  (SBU) Additionally, Abbas cited the 1986 "Reykjavik Summit" as a 
specific example of how Iceland as a small state could be involved 
in the peace process.  Foreign Minister Gisladottir said Iceland 
would, of course, support such an idea.  The Political Director 
emphasized, however, that Abbas' remark was meant only as an 
example, and not as an explicit suggestion.  She added that the 
media had reported the comment with liberty, and had perhaps made 
more of it than was actually intended. 
 
6.  (U) Media Coverage:  All media covered yesterday's visit by 
President Abbas in straight forward terms.  Media widely reported FM 
Gisladottir's appointment of veteran diplomat Thordur Aegir 
Oskarsson (presently Iceland's Ambassador to Japan -- see bio note 
para. 7) as a special envoy to the Palestinian Authority.  The 
Foreign Minister said Oskarsson would visit the area frequently and 
would effectively be Iceland's ambassador to Palestine.  The press 
picked up on President Abbas' comment that "Iceland can play a big 
role in the peace process, as it did by hosting the Reykjavik 
summit."  Foreign Minister Gisladottir responded that "we are going 
to concentrate on that."  At a press conference, President Abbas 
told the media that "the time when only super powers governed the 
world was over."  He said, "Icelanders and Palestinians have their 
fight for independence in common and the role of Iceland really 
matters in the Middle East."  Comment:  Post anticipates that 
editorial comment on the visit and Iceland's policy initiatives will 
begin appearing in the print media on April 24.  End comment. 
 
7.  (SBU) Bio Note:  Thordur Aegir Oskarsson is currently Iceland's 
Ambassador to Japan and the Philippines, a post he has held since 
2004.  Oskarsson will take up his duties as Special Envoy to the 
Palestinian Authority later this spring.  He has a BA in Political 
Science from the University of Iceland (1979) and an MA in 
International Politics from the University of Wisconsin (1980), and 
was a Ph.D. student at Wisconsin from 1980-83.  Oskarsson returned 
to Iceland in 1983, and worked as a researcher for a short-lived 
 
REYKJAVIK 00000071  002 OF 002 
 
 
think tank on national security, an urban planner and a reporter for 
a newspaper aligned with Iceland's Progressive Party.  He joined the 
Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1988.  In 1999 Oskarsson was 
appointed Iceland's OSCE PermRep in Vienna, and subsequently was 
accredited to Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovinia, Slovakia, and Hungary as 
well as the UN Agencies in Vienna.  He is married with two 
children. 
 
KLOPFENSTEIN