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04DJIBOUTI441 2004-03-25 12:11:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Djibouti
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					UNCLAS DJIBOUTI 000441 


E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) German President Johannes Rau cancelled his
trip to Djibouti, scheduled for Wednesday, March 24th,
at the last minute due to "considerable and concrete
personal risk to the President," according to German
security services. Rau's trip to Djibouti was the
third stop in a three-country African tour, also
including Nigeria and Tanzania. Post, and most of
the Djiboutian government, learned of the cancellation
on Wednesday, the 24th, from Washington and French
news sources. Djiboutians Communications Minister,
Rifki Abdoulkader Bamakhrama, responded to the
cancellation. "There is no plot against any president
from any country...There is no risk signaled by our
security service." German Ambassador, Dr. Helga
Graefin Strachwitz, based in Addis Ababa, had visited
Embassy Djibouti for a courtesy call to Ambassador
Ragsdale, Tuesday, March 23rd, during which she had
confirmed the intention of President Rau to visit

2. (U) The purpose of Rau's visit was to meet with
German troops stationed in Djibouti as part of the
Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA)
operation, as a farewell gesture before he steps down
this year. Rau was also to meet with Djiboutian
President Ismail Omar Guelleh to discuss issues of
military cooperation, the regional situation, and
anti-terrorism prevention. This visit was to be
the first by a German head of state to Djibouti.

3. (U) Djiboutian news sources reported Wednesday
evening that President Rau spoke to President
Guelleh on the phone, conveying his apologies for
having to cancel the visit. The news sources did
not expound on what, if any, other topics of
conversation were covered. The Thursday edition of
La Nation, the government run newspaper, printed a
heated response to the cancellation with the title
"Djibouti exprime son etonnement" - Djibouti
Expresses Its Shock. This half-page article ran
above-the-fold on the front page of the paper. The
article was nearly editorial in nature, with added
punctuation to express sarcasm and disbelief, as well
as, vehement language to express the reaction of the
Djiboutian government, delivered through the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs (MFA). According to the article,
an MFA official expressed Djibouti's "shock and great
surprise" at the cancellation, which was done
"unilaterally and without consultation with the
Djiboutian government." Later in the article, the
author used the words "And God knows how many heads
of state and other important persons have passed
through Djibouti, without fearing for their life and
their person." The article later states that the
telephone conversation between Guelleh and Rau
included mutual sentiments re-affirming their
commitment to "reinforce Djiboutian-German bilateral
relations and coordinate their efforts to instill
peace and stability in this region of the world."
The author of the La Nation piece smoothed things
over by adding at the end "and that's how nothing
can come to shake the good will between two friendly
countries." The comment may be tongue and cheek, but
indicate a Djiboutian willingness to forget the incident.