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04DJIBOUTI1541 2004-12-03 07:25:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 001541 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2014

REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).

1. (C) Ambassador met with President Ismail Omar Guelleh on
December 2, at her request. The purpose of the meeting was
to discuss the current state of U.S.-Djibouti bilateral
relations as well as developments in the region. Septels
cover discussions on Camp Lemonier lease negotiations and
regional developments. Pol/Econ (Embassy notetaker) joined
the Ambassador in the meeting at the Presidential Palace.
Osman Ahmed, Minister of the Presidency, sat in with Guelleh
on the Djiboutian side.

2. (C) Ambassador began by asking Guelleh for an assessment
of his September visit to the U.S. to participate in UNGA.
He replied that the trip had been "very, very good, very
pleasant, and very fruitful." His meetings with members of
the House and Senate were particularly interesting as they
were his first opportunity to see how affairs are handled in
respective departments and committees. The meetings were
also a chance for him to brief members of Congress on
Djibouti's activities and to see how they view the relations
proceeding. Guelleh said the congressmen were also
interested to hear Djibouti's views on relations between
their two countries. Guelleh expressed hope that he had
succeeded in conveying his message well. He had not met with
senior U.S. officials. He told Ambassador that during his
trip, he had not wanted "to disturb Administration
officials," who seemed "to have other issues on their mind"
during UNGA. He said, nonetheless, the trip was very useful
and he had been particularly impressed by retired congressman
Ronald Dellums of California and the meeting the two had had.

3. (C) To Ambassador's invitation to Guelleh to provide his
assessment of the current state of U.S-Djibouti bilateral
relations, Guelleh responded that he wanted a closer
relationship with the United States administration. This is
why, he said, Djibouti had hired a firm in the U.S. to assist
in this effort. He said Djibouti was committed to go forward
and join countries that are "closest to the hearts of the
Administration and to the President of the United States."
"As you know," he recounted, "Djibouti is a very poor
country." Yet the World Bank has determined that Djibouti is
not eligible for certain loans because of its high per capita
income among developing countries. "This is not good at
all," he said, because Djibouti has genuine needs. He said
he had told Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Constance
Newman during his visit to New York that he would like to see
Djibouti on the list of countries with bilateral development
assistance through USAID, in order to make the U.S.
commitment to Djibouti more permanent. Currently, and in
prior years, he said, Djibouti has benefited on a more
intermittent basis from Economic Support funds. That
assistance was cut off during the Clinton Administration. A
commitment of development assistance, Guelleh stated, would
provide greater continuity. Nevertheless, he said he was
pleased with U.S.-Djibouti cooperation through assistance in
the education and health domains.

4. (C) Ambassador noted that health and education were the
priorities for assistance that Djibouti set after Guelleh's
visit to the U.S. in January, 2003. She asked if he had
identified other areas of need for Djibouti. Guelleh
responded that desertification, water accessibility, the
environment, and private investment from U.S. firms were also
priorities. He commented that it was very important that
Djibouti attract more direct foreign investment. For
countries in Africa, that was the only way for development to
succeed. Ambassador mentioned the difficulty in encouraging
U.S. businesses to seek commercial opportunities in Djibouti
due to the country's small market size. Yet the potential
certainly exists, she said, in expanding to surrounding
markets in the region. Guelleh agreed, and said Singapore is
an example of what Djibouti would like to become. It is very
small but serves all of its neighboring areas. For example,
a dream for Djibouti, Guelleh said, is to connect its railway
to Durban, South Africa. According to Guelleh, South Africa
is a plausible market base and is very interested in the
prospect of developing this rail line. Djibouti would use
the new port at Doraleh, managed by "very efficient and
successful people" (note: Dubai Ports International. end
note) as a way to attract business from landlocked countries.
Guelleh commented that from Mombasa to Mozambique, there was
not an efficient port from which many landlocked countries
with rich resources might benefit.

5. (C) Ambassador noted additional U.S. assistance to
Djibouti through Foreign Military Financing (FMF). Guelleh
dismissed FMF's impact, saying he had "given up" on the FMF
program. The first request for material was in 2001, he told
Ambassador, and it was for heavy-duty trucks. "To this day,
not one truck has been delivered." Ambassador responded that
the FMF process does take time. She said she had sent
messages to Washington inquiring about the status of various
FMF requests for Djibouti, and believed she had made some
progress. Also, she said, General Abizaid promised General
Fathi during a recent visit that he would also explore the
matter of FMF delays. Guelleh shrugged his shoulders, and
responded that FMF, unfortunately, is a complicated system
issue for the U.S.

6. (C) Comment: Key Djiboutian ministers, and Ambassador
Olhaye, have long made a case for development assistance for
Djibouti. It is clear Guelleh wants a long-term U.S.
assistance relationship-- and a long-term USAID presence.
They believe this is possible under the current
Administration. There is, however, little faith in the
utility of FMF. Ambassador has addressed this in Washington.
A discussion of larger implications of aid issues in
Djibouti, the impact of Dubai, and the U.S.-Djibouti
relationship to follow septel. End comment.