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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ADDISABABA3401
2005-09-27 10:10:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Addis Ababa
Cable title:  

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA BORDER: NORWEGIAN THOUGHTS

Tags:   PREL  KPKO  NO  ER  ET  EE  BORDER 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L ADDIS ABABA 003401 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E, AF/RSA, EUR/NB. LONDON FOR AFRICA
WATCHER.

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/25/2015
TAGS: PREL KPKO NO ER ET EE BORDER
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA-ERITREA BORDER: NORWEGIAN THOUGHTS

REF: ADDIS ABABA 3316 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES A.I. VICKI HUDDLESTON. REASON: 1.4 (B)
AND (D)



1. (C) Summary: Oslo would support renewed, public USG
engagement to resolve the political stalemate between
Ethiopia and Eritrea over the border dispute, Norwegian
Ambassador and General Jan Erik Wilhelmsen told Charge
September 23. However, Norway would also advise the U.S. not
to repeat the mistakes of UNSYG Special Envoy Axworthy, but
instead begin any initiative with low-profile groundwork in
Eritrea. Norway is willing to put USG representatives in
contact with Norwegian officials who have gained Eritrean
President Isaias' trust. The GON would likely favor the
creation of a "Horn of Africa Resource Group" to support USG
efforts. End summary.



--------------------------



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USG INTERVENTION NEEDED, BUT HEED LESSONS LEARNED


--------------------------



--------------------------





2. (C) Visiting General J.E. Wilhelmsen, who met with Charge
to discuss regional issues and the African Union (septel),
said that he believes Norway would support a favorable USG
response to UNMEE UNSRSG Legwaila's call for increased U.S.
engagement to resolve the political deadlock over the border.
He commented that it is "ridiculous but true" that the UN is
powerless on this front, and urged the U.S. to accept the
UNSRSG's invitation to intervene.



3. (C) Norwegian Deputy Head of Mission Simon Rye said that
U.S. engagement would be useful, but advised the USG to first
"take a good look at what went wrong with the Axworthy
mission." According to Rye, Axworthy did not properly
understand political dynamics in the region and adopted a
"heavy-handed" approach. Asked by Charge to elaborate, Rye
said that it was a "huge mistake" for Axworthy to go to Addis
to meet with Ethiopian PM Meles first. Because Eritrea is
under the impression that Ethiopia attracts more positive
attention from the international community, Rye noted,
Eritrea always saw the Axworthy mission as an "Ethiopian
proposal."



--------------------------


COFFEE HOUSE APPROACH -- A LOW-PROFILE START


--------------------------





4. (C) Rye expressed the view that any Special Envoy should
first expend effort to establish good relations with several
key individuals in Asmara. He dubbed this the "coffee house
approach", and noted that Norwegian Special Representative
Colby had used the method with some success to gain the trust
of those close to Isaias. Rye said that it will be essential
to ensure that Eritrea accepts the USG Special Envoy before
going public with any nomination.



5. (C) Above all, Rye advised, a low-profile start will be
more likely to meet with success. He said that the U.S.
might begin by discussing "lessons learned" with UN officials
who set up Axworthy's mission. Rye indicated that Norway
would likely be interested in contributing to a "Horn of
Africa Resource Group" to help put any mission into proper
political and cultural context. "Norway has very good people
who would be willing to contribute", he stated. While noting
that a change of government is upcoming in Norway, Rye said
that the current Deputy PM has met Isaias several times and
enjoys open dialogue with the Eritrean President. Rye
commented that Axworthy ignored Norway's advice to consult
the Deputy PM and Colby before proceeding with his mission.
"There are no magic bullets", Rye said, but emphasized that a
low-profile start armed with such consultations could ensure
the Axworthy history does not repeat itself in the form of a
USG intervention.
HUDDLESTON