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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI741 2004-05-25 15:19:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

NEW WRINKLE IN QUEST FOR DJIBOUTI NEC SITE

Tags:   AMGT ABLD PREL PGOV DJ 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000741 

SIPDIS

FOR OBO/REPM/AQD THOMAS GRUBB; ALSO FOR AF/EX AND AF/E

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/25/2014
TAGS: AMGT ABLD PREL PGOV DJ
SUBJECT: NEW WRINKLE IN QUEST FOR DJIBOUTI NEC SITE

REF: A. STATE 86390

B. DJIBOUTI 531

C. STATE 69365

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



1. (C) Mohammed M. Ali Yamani, owner of Maya Trading and Real
Estate Development Company in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,
approached Ambassador and Management Officer May 17 regarding
the USG offer to the Government of Djibouti to purchase a
parcel of land in the Haramous section of Djibouti ville for
a new Embassy compound (NEC) (See reftels). In a meeting at
the Embassy, Yamani stated that he is the sole owner of the
parcel in question and that the parcel is part of a villa
development project he is planning for the area. Yamani
refuted our understanding that the Government of Djibouti
owned the parcel and produced a contract and a Djibouti
presidential decree which, when translated, appeared to
corroborate his assertion. Yamani also offered the property
(40,321 square meters) that is the subject of our interest,
plus an adjoining 7121 square meters we understood was owned
by another buyer, all for the amount of "between USD 250 and
USD 300" per square meter. (Note: Yamani stated that the
7121 square meter piece is NOT repeat NOT owned by anyone
else. His suggested price is significantly higher than the
amount we offered the Government of Djibouti for the parcel.
End note.)



2. (U) Ambassador subsequently sought clarification of
Yamani's assertions in separate meetings with Minister of
Presidential Affairs Osman Ahmed Moussa, and Minister of
Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mahmoud Ali
Youssef. Moussa, who was signatory to the Yamani contract,
stated that the contract does not convey ownership to Yamani
and that he would provide further clarification of this in
the next couple of days. He did not do so. Youssef, on the
other hand, noted that he would be accompanying President
Ismail Omar Guelleh the following day to Tunis to attend the
Arab League Summit, would raise the matter enroute, and would
respond when he returned three days later. Youssef followed
through on his pledge and in a brief to Ambassador, declared
that Yamani does not own the parcel. He said Yamani has not
paid for any part of the site he intends to develop and that
the Government of Djibouti would pass a presidential decree
the very next day reserving to the USG the 40,321 square
meters site. In addition, Youssef stated that President
Guelleh told him the U.S. should not negotiate anything with
Yamani.



3. (U) Ambassador responded that this statement of ownership
alone would not appear to clear the matter. Yamani has
stated a claim and he may very well challenge the new decree
judicially. Youssef reassured that Yamani had no say in the
matter, and that if he attempted to challenge the
presidential decree, he could well lose all of his
development project. Ambassador impressed upon Youssef the
importance of the Government of Djibouti clarifying this
matter with Yamani, who is based in Jeddah. We hope it will
follow through.



4. (C) Ambassador also told Youssef that Yamani wanted to
sell to the USG a total of 47,442 square meters, which
includes a section of the parcel that we understood had been
reserved by another buyer. She told Youssef that Yamani
indicated the section is available. Youssef responded that
the decree could be amended before it is printed in the
official gazette on May 26 to reserve the full rectangular
parcel (47,442 square meters vice 40,321 square meters) for
the USG. Ambassador will seek clarification first if
reservation of the full parcel will obligate the USG to buy
the full parcel. If it does not, we will ask the Government
of Djibouti to reserve the full parcel (per Ragsdale/OBO
telcon). (Note: If OBO decides it wishes subsequently to
take the full rectangular parcel, there would obviously need
to be a slight adjustment upward in its original USD 1.8
million offer to purchase. The advantage of the complete
parcel is that it would give the USG full control of the NEC
site from all sides. End note.)



5. (C) OBO may wish to begin thinking now about what it will
do or should do with the existing embassy site. Abdurahman
Boreh, a prominent businessman in Djibouti with close ties to
President Guelleh, told Ambassador on two separate occasions
that the Government of Djibouti will want "to possess" the
existing Embassy site once the U.S. vacates. He stated that
the Government of Djibouti will not approve closure of two
roads -- one at the current site and one at the new site --
should the U.S. wish to retain the current site. While the
current site does not meet our security requirements and is
small, it is in a prime location, is developed with several
sound structures, and will likely have a number of interested
buyers -- including other Governments and organizations with
representation here. Perhaps a land swap with the Government
of Djibouti might be of interest. In any case, this issue
may be possible leverage as we enter into negotiations with
the owner -- once determined -- of the proposed NEC site.


6. (U) Embassy will seek clarification from its attorney,
Alain Martinet, on implications of the decree and related
issues.
RAGSDALE