wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI1542 2004-12-03 07:25:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

PRESIDENT GUELLEH ON CAMP LEMONIER ACCESS

Tags:   PGOV PREL MARR MASS EAIR DJ 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 001542 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF, AF/E AND PM; DOD FOR ISA AFRICA DAS THERESA
WHELAN; CJTF-HOA FOR MARCENT COMMANDER AND CJTF-HOA
COMMANDER GENERAL SAMUEL HELLAND

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR MASS EAIR DJ
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT GUELLEH ON CAMP LEMONIER ACCESS
NEGOTIATIONS

REF: DJIBOUTI 1498

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



1. (C) Ambassador met with President Ismail Omar Guelleh
December 2, at her request, to review progress in the U.S.
bilateral relationship and to solicit the President's
perspectives on regional developments. The meeting took
place at the Presidential Palace. Ambassador and Guelleh
were joined by Pol/Econ officer (notetaker for Embassy) and
Minister of the Presidency Osman Ahmed (notetaker for
Guelleh). During the discussions, Ambassador raised Camp
Lemonier access/lease negotiations currently underway in
Washington between the U.S. Department of Defense and
Djibouti's ambassador, Roble Olhaye.



2. (C) Speaking in English, Guelleh responded that talks were
proceeding slowly and that it had been difficult working with
interlocutors at the Department of Defense. He said he did
not understand why the Department of State and White House
were not engaged in the negotiating process. The Department
of Defense "lacks experience" and prefers to "impose demands"
rather than negotiate. He concluded that the Department of
Defense "had become so large" and "tentaculaire" (French,
meaning tentacular, sprawling) "that it now wants to act
fully independent of the State Department." Guelleh said he
had asked Olhaye to seek a meeting with White House staff and
State to make them aware of difficulties in negotiations, in
order that they can assist should problems arise.



3. (C) Ambassador asked Guelleh if Olhaye had briefed him on
the U.S. military's land requirements at Lemonier. She
explained that the U.S. military was interested in use of all
the territory extending from the existing Camp perimeter to
and including the nearby island. Guelleh nodded that he was
aware, and said "that's a lot of land." "We are ready to
give you all the land you want," he added, "but you have to
give us a place to go." Ambassador noted that Sultan Sulayem
and Abdurrahman Boreh had put forward a proposal to her and
General Helland, in a recent meeting (see reftel), that the
U.S. take over the existing Ambouli airport for military use
and construct a new international airport elsewhere in
exchange. She said the Sulayem/Boreh proposal initially had
no clarification of a role for France, although the two
subsequently suggested that France and the U.S. could share
use of Ambouli. She asked Guelleh if he was aware of the
proposal. He said he was aware of it and that he had also
briefed Olhaye. He asked the Ambassador what the U.S.
thought of the proposal.



4. (C) Ambassador replied that it was difficult for the U.S.
to respond. She said Sulayem and Boreh are not members of
the Government of Djibouti. If their proposal is a
Government proposal, then he (Guelleh) might ask Ambassador
Olhaye to raise it directly with Deputy Assistant Secretary
Whelan. Guelleh responded that he did not wish to put the
proposal on the table until he had some preliminary reaction
from the U.S. If the U.S. were interested, Dubai Ports
International (Sulayem's company) would be responsible for
building a new terminal building and for extending and
preparing the runway. The U.S. would be responsible for
taxiways, aircraft parking areas, and the air traffic control
tower. France would cover the rest of the airport
infrastructure. Ambassador asked Guelleh if he thought
France would/could finance construction of a new airport?
Guelleh responded that he "would talk to them" and also that
he was certain they would be willing to pay their share of
costs. (Comment: It was clear to Ambassador that Guelleh was
not prepared to raise it with the French until he had an
indication of U.S. interest in the overall plan. End comment)
Ambassador told Guelleh she would share his views with
Washington.



5. (C) Guelleh went on to say that he wanted a single
agreement to encompass all issues surrounding the U.S. lease
of Lemonier. Ambassador explained that it would not be
possible to combine the three into a single element, given
the need for new negotiating authority, possibly under
congressional mandate, were there to be a single agreement.
Such a move would only further delay matters. Guelleh
appeared to understand, saying that "if it is the desire of
our counterparts, we don't mind keeping those as three
different ones." Ambassador recounted the three for
information purposes, to which Guelleh responded that the
"Acquisitions and Cross Services Agreement (ACSA)" was "the
most important." He said the ACSA was "more profitable" for
Djibouti. However, he continued, it is not being implemented
"perhaps because of the laxity of Djibouti." Ambassador
stated that the ACSA remains in force but that she understood
Djibouti had not presented the necessary documentation to
enable that payments be made. Guelleh admitted that this was
a problem, saying "that is why I refer to our laxity." He
did not say if there were immediate plans to address the
issue.



6. (C) Comment: Guelleh is clearly ill-at-ease by what he
sees as "slow" and "difficult" negotiations in Washington.
Some of this concern may reflect the influence of Abdurrahman
Boreh, who made a similar point recently to Ambassador.
Guelleh and Boreh want to keep the U.S. military account in
Djibouti. There is no doubt on this score. The proposal that
the U.S. military join in an airport construction project in
exchange for more land and benefits at Lemonier -- which
Guelleh appears to support in principle -- is intriguing on
the surface. How it would/could work in practice is another
matter. Sulayem has estimated a total construction price tag
of USD 100 million. If accurate, the U.S. share would be
roughly a third -- not bad if the U.S. had a long-term lease
and no other cost requirements under a new lease agreement.
However, maintenance and preparation of Ambouli would need to
be factored into the equation as well as whether a mechanism
exists within Defense to accommodate such a scheme. For the
new airport, would there be a fixed charge to each partner?
Who would manage the project? How would cost overruns be
handled? Guelleh implies that details such as these could be
worked out IF the U.S. first expresses interest. Over to the
Defense negotiating team. End comment.
RAGSDALE