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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI1350 2004-10-21 13:17:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

FRANCE'S MILITARY COMMANDER IN DJIBOUTI DESIRES

Tags:   PREL MASS MARR MOPS PTER MCAP FR DJ 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L DJIBOUTI 001350 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF, AF/E AND PM
PARIS LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHER; DOD FOR ISA AFRICA DAS
THERESA WHELAN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/21/2014
TAGS: PREL MASS MARR MOPS PTER MCAP FR DJ
SUBJECT: FRANCE'S MILITARY COMMANDER IN DJIBOUTI DESIRES
GREATER REGIONAL FOCUS FOR FRENCH FORCES

Classified By: AMBASSADOR MARGUERITA D. RAGSDALE.
REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) During the Ambassador's regular weekly meeting
October 21 with General Michel Arrault, Commander of French
Military Forces in Djibouti, General Arrault related his
desire to have his forces become more active in regional
security matters. He said the threat of terrorism in this
part of the world is certainly a factor in his thinking. The
General mentioned a trip undertaken by members of the French
armed forces stationed in Djibouti to Massawa, Eritrea during
the first week of October. While the General did not
elaborate on the activities of his forces during their visit,
he said there were difficulties in working with the Eritrean
government.



2. (C) Ambassador observed that the unresolved conflict over
border issues between Ethiopia and Eritrea may lead to
Ethiopian suspicions about French-Eritrean cooperation, given
the penchant for conspiratorial thinking among the two
states. Arrault agreed but did not comment on whether a
similar visit of his forces was planned in the near future
for Ethiopia. Meanwhile, post has learned that the 5th
Marine Overseas Regiment (Regiment Interarmee d'Outre-Mer) of
French Forces stationed in Djibouti is set to conduct
training in Ethiopia to prepare Ethiopian forces for
peacekeeping duty. We do not have dates for such training.
We note, however, that during the meeting with Ambassador,
General Arrault queried whether peacekeeping by African Union
forces anywhere in the Horn -- specifically in Darfur or in
Somalia -- could work without significant physical
involvement, and infusion of money, by external powers such
as the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Italy.



3. (C) Comment: Post views General Arrault's expressed
desire for greater regional involvement as a significant
shift in policy for French Forces Djibouti (FFDJ). Both
General Arrault and his predecessor, in prior conversations
with us, have been consistently negative toward the
possibility of greater FFDJ participation in regional
security matters. Instead, they have stressed that France's
sole mandate in Djibouti -- unlike our own -- is to uphold
the bilateral defense agreement existing between Djibouti and
France that guarantees France's defense of Djibouti against
external attack. Both he and his predecessor have routinely
explained that FFDJ requires the approval of Paris for
greater participation in Coalition activities such as those
conducted by the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa
(CJTF-HOA) and the Combined Task Force - 150 (CTF-150). We
do not know if this new stance reflects merely General
Arrault's desire and action or is at the direction of Paris.
End comment.
RAGSDALE