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 001617
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/22/2014 TAGS: DJ ODIP PREL SA SO SU YM SUBJECT: GUELLEH UNLIKELY TO TRAVEL TO SUDAN; DJIBOUTI PREDICTS THAW IN REGIONAL RELATIONS
REF: A. KHARTOUM 1717
B. STATE 271223
C. SANAA 3144
Classified By: Ambassador Marguerita Ragsdale. For reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador Ragsdale delivered reftel (B) demarche on December 22 to Minister of Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf. Youssouf told the Ambassador that the meeting in Khartoum on December 28 is a regularly scheduled one among the self-proclaimed "axis" of Sudan, Yemen and Ethiopia. He said it is highly unlikely Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh would attend (pending confirmation) and that to his knowledge no trip is currently planned to Khartoum by President Guelleh. Youssouf also said that Djibouti expects that at the axis meeting, Yemeni President Saleh will push for greater cooperation with Eritrea, which could likely cause the collapse of the axis before the end of the year. The Ambassador delivered the talking points on Sudan and Darfur for Youssouf's reference. END SUMMARY
2. (U) The Ambassador and the POL/PD officer met with Minister of Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf to address the rumor that President Guelleh would be traveling to Sudan on December 26 and to deliver talking points on the U.S. position on Sudan and Darfur provided in reftel (B).
3. (U) The Ambassador explained that the U.S. is concerned that recent events in Darfur will negatively impact north-south peace negotiations, and that Secretary Powell recently expressed strong displeasure with the Government of Sudan's failure to abide by commitments to end the violence. She asked that President Guelleh convey a strong message to Sudan about the importance of living up to its promises.
4. (U) Youssouf indicated that the Djiboutian government is also acutely concerned about the Darfur situation, but that to his knowledge President Guelleh has no/no plans to travel to Sudan at the end of December. He promised to provide confirmation to the Ambassador, however, no later than Thursday, December 23.
5. (C) Youssouf said that there is a meeting in Sudan at the end of the month for the Ethiopian, Sudanese and Yemeni heads of state. It is a regularly scheduled one among this self-proclaimed axis. He said Djibouti had been approached to join the axis several times in the past, especially by the Yemenis, and has each time declined because of what Djibouti perceives as the group's anti-Eritrean political agenda. Youssouf said Djibouti told the axis that a regional medium, IGAD, already existed, and that meetings promoting regional welfare should include all Horn of Africa states, including Eritrea, which had not been invited to any of the axis meetings.
6. (C) Youssouf added that reports following the recent meeting of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to Yemen, and indications gleaned from the Yemeni president's recent declarations, leads him to believe that Yemeni President Saleh will use the December meeting to mediate in the Sudan-Eritrea and Ethiopia-Eritrea disputes and will carry a "very positive, very peaceful message" to Khartoum. This will be a clear change in position for Yemen, which spearheaded the formation of the axis, Youssouf said.
7.(C) Youssouf said that tensions remain high between Eritrea and Ethiopia. He noted that the recent visit of a U.S. delegation to Eritrea, and not Ethiopia, raised questions from Ethiopia. Tensions are also high between Eritrea and Sudan, Youssouf said, and added that if Saleh promotes rapprochement it may cause the collapse of the axis. If Saleh cannot convince his counterparts to de-escalate tensions with Eritrea, Youssouf predicts Yemen will withdraw from the coalition. He added that disputes between Eritrea and other countries are poisoning regional relations and pose a "very intricate problem" in the region.
8.(C) Youssouf said that if South African President Mbeki travels to Sudan at the end of December it will likely be to address Darfur and to stress the African Union's most recent and strongly-worded position on the Darfur crisis.