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04ABUJA1295 2004-07-27 05:42:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
Cable title:  

SECURITY COOPERATION WITH NIGERIA

Tags:   PREL PGOV PHUM MARR MASS NI 
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1. (C) Summary: I met with National Security Advisor Aliyu
Mohammed at OOB on July 26 to go over the points in reftel.
He was strongly supportive of the strategy, and said he would
urge President Obasanjo to make a speech incorporating the
essential elements included in reftel. He repeated his
request to visit USEUCOM (ref B), which this mission strongly
supports. End summary.



2. (C) Aliyu Mohammed focused on the meat of a proposed
presidential statement provided in reftel, noting that there
was nothing different from what the President has already
said in the past. Nevertheless, he asked me if it was
necessary for the president to make the statement, or whether
it could be delivered on his behalf. I said that to be
credible, the statement should be made by the president and
in a public forum. I said that such a statement might
provide the confidence that the Obasanjo government would
benefit from U.S. security cooperation, but that, obviously,
I could not guarantee a positive congressional response.
Aliyu Mohammed said that there are two upcoming military
graduation events, one in early August, one in early
September that would provide the appropriate venue for such a
speech.



3. (C) When I asked about next steps on Darfur, Aliyu
Mohammed responded by saying that Sheikh Sheriff Saleh, a
Sufi Imam based in Maiduguri, was seeking to mediate among
all of the Sudanese parties. This mediation, he continued,
was not sponsored by the Nigerian government, though it
certainly supports the effort in principle. The Sheikh is
known to embassy Abuja as a well-educated, moderate cleric
with a substantial following in the Lake Chad region,
including Chad and parts of Cameroon.



4. (C) Aliyu Mohammed reiterated his wish to visit USEUCOM
(ref B). He said that it is especially important now with
the ongoing press attention to alleged U.S. activity in the
Gulf of Guinea and the security issues in the Nigerian delta.



5. (C) Comment: Aliyu Mohammed wants the restoration of
military cooperation with the U.S., sees as workable the
proposed statement to be made by President Obasanjo. He has
promised to advocate for it with the president. This mission
strongly endorses an USEUCOM invitation to Aliyu Mohammed to
visit USEUCOM. Such an invitation would benefit U.S.
interests whether or not Obasanjo makes the speech we want
him to make and whether or not the security relationship is
restored. In my judgment, Aliyu Mohammed still has a career
ahead of him at the highest levels of Nigerian politics, and
he is instinctively pro-American. His cooperation on a wide
range of security issues is worth having. End comment.

CAMPBELL