|04DJIBOUTI446||2004-03-25 15:28:00||SECRET||Embassy Djibouti|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (C) Reftel conveys report of Djiboutian government
reaction to cancellation of the March 24 visit to Djibouti of
German President Rau. Embassy notes that the German
Ambassador to Ethiopia (who also has responsibility for
Djibouti), Helga Strachwitz, expressed considerable concern
to Ambassador over remarks to Reuters News Agency about the
canceled visit that were attributed to a CJTF-HOA
spokesperson. These remarks appeared in a Washington Post
article on March 24. The spokesperson, when queried about
the German statement of a threat, is quoted as saying "that's
news to us."
2. (C) The Reuters-originated story was carried in condensed
form in the media here, but the spokesman's remarks were
re-interpreted in French as indicating U.S. "surprise" over
the German claims of a specific threat against Rau.
Strachwitz told Ambassador March 25 that in her meeting with
Foreign Minister Ali Abdi Farah the morning of March 24, the
Foreign Minister was pleasant but chastised Germany for
having made the decision to cancel the visit on security
grounds and stated to her that "even the Americans were
surprised by your government's allegations."
3. (C) As customarily happens in situations such as these,
the Reuters' attribution was re-interpreted a second time in
"La Nation" newspaper on March 25. There, it implied that
the "U.S. counterterrorism group" said it was "not able to
take seriously" the threats against Rau. Strachwitz stated
to Ambassador that she believed the U.S. should issue an
immediate refutation of its public remarks on the Rau
threats, even moreso because the Djiboutian government was
using those remarks as a basis to lambast Germany for
cancelling the Rau visit. She told Ambassador that there had
indeed been a specific threat against her President, that the
threat emanated from Somalia and that individuals in
Somaliland being interrogated in connection with the recent
attack on the German organization, GTZ, had revealed details
of the travel plans, flight pattern, ground schedules,
spousal plans, meeting plans, etc. of the Rau visit --
information that would not normally have been in the purview
of the Somali individuals. It was on that basis, she said,
that the decision was made to cancel the Rau trip.
4. (C) Ambassador attempted to defuse the situation by
assuring the German Ambassador that the quotes attributed in
the local French press to the CJTF-HOA are not an accurate
rendition of the spokesperson's remarks and that the U.S.
Government has made no statement regarding the validity of
the German allegations. Ambassador also met with CJTF-HOA
Acting Commander, Colonel Jeff Mathis, who re-confirmed steps
taken to ensure full coordination with the Embassy on press
5. (S) Comment: The German Ambassador opined that there may
be a need for greater intelligence coordination so that there
is no daylight on threat information. Meanwhile, post will
make clear that much of the confusion has been fueled by
press inaccuracies. End comment.