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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04SANAA3144
2004-12-22 07:53:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Sanaa
Cable title:  

NEW CHAPTER IN YEMEN-ERITREA RELATIONS?

Tags:   PREL  ER  ET  YM  HOA 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SANAA 003144 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2014
TAGS: PREL ER ET YM HOA
SUBJECT: NEW CHAPTER IN YEMEN-ERITREA RELATIONS?

REF: SANAA 2942

Classified By: Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski for reasons 1.4 b and d.



1. (SBU) Summary. The December 8-10 visit to Sanaa by
Eritrean president Isayas Afewerki is being touted as marking
"a new page" in Yemen-Eritrea relations. Since a fishing
dispute over the Hunaish Islands erupted into armed conflict
in 1995, Yemen-Eritrea relations have been icy. Although the
dispute was resolved through international arbitration in
favor of Yemen in 1998, the ROYG has viewed Eritrean motives
in the Horn of Africa (HOA) with mistrust. During the visit,
the two Presidents signed a fisheries agreement, held
discussions on mutual security, and committed to signing
eight additional cooperative agreements in Asmara in January.
End Summary.



2. (U) At a December 10 joint press conference, President
Saleh claimed Afewerki's trip was unrelated to the
unconfirmed skirmish between the two countries in the waters
of the Hunaish Islands several weeks earlier (reftel). Saleh
told the press discussions with Afewerki focused on a new
joint fisheries initiative and eight new bilateral agreements
on investment, taxation, culture, trade and security.
According to local press reports, the two Presidents had a
closed-door meeting to discuss security and regional
stability.



3. (U) In an interview with Eritrean TV, Saleh offered his
services as go-between for Eritrea and Ethiopia saying, "I do
not call myself a mediator, but I am ready to help the two
sides." The next step in improving relations will be the
January &Sanaa Gathering" meeting in Khartoum to be attended
by Yemen, Ethiopia and Sudan. (Note: Saleh stated that the
Sanaa Gathering is not against Eritrea but an economic
meeting open to all. In statements following the last
gathering meeting in December of 2003, the Eritrea Government
said the gathering "aims to asphyxiate Eritrea." End Note.)



4. (C) Comment. Afewerki's visit was scheduled on the heels
of a November 21 incident during which the ROYG fired shots
at an alleged Eritrean vessel that entered Yemeni territorial
waters of the Hunaish Islands (reftel). Immediately
following the incident, Ambassador was called in by Vice
President Hadi who requested U.S. Forces in HOA share any
information they might have collected on the alledged
Eritrean vessel, as well as on a possible Eritrean Naval
buildup. The timing of the Eritrean President's visit to
Sanaa was likely no accident. It may signal recognition by
both sides that confidence-building measures are called for
to prevent future maritime incidents from escalating
unnecessarily. End Comment.
KRAJESKI