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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05DJIBOUTI512 2005-05-27 09:45:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

DJIBOUTI'S NEW FOREIGN MINISTER ON RECENT GUELLEH

Tags:   PREL PGOV EAID ECON DJ 
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 000512 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF ASSISTANT SECRETARY CONSTANCE NEWMAN AND AF
DAS DON YAMAMOTO
STATE ALSO PASS USAID
LONDON/PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/26/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID ECON DJ
SUBJECT: DJIBOUTI'S NEW FOREIGN MINISTER ON RECENT GUELLEH
VISIT TO WASHINGTON

REF: STATE 092721

Classified By: Ambassador Marguerita D. Ragsdale.
Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).



1. (C) Summary: Djibouti's new Minister of Foreign Affairs
is pleased with the outcome of the May 13 stopover visit to
Washington of President Guelleh (see reftel) and reviewed
with Ambassador key aspects of Guelleh's meetings with
Secretary Rice, NSC Africa Director Courville, USAID

SIPDIS
Administrator Natsios and IRI representatives. The visit had
been seen by Youssuf as an opportunity for Guelleh to
re-affirm close strategic ties of Djibouti with the U.S., to
seek development assistance for Djibouti and to encourage
investment in energy production and water access. The
much-respected new Foreign Minister, an Afar who had been
acting Foreign Minister since the illness of his predecessor
in March, is expected to bring energy, innovation and
dynamism to Djibouti's foreign policy arm in the months
ahead. End summary.



2. (C) Ambassador discussed the recent visit of President
Guelleh to Washington (see reftel) with newly-appointed
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mahmoud Ali Youssuf, during her
May 26 meeting with Youssuf. Youssuf, who had accompanied
Guelleh during the U.S. visit, conveyed to Ambassador his and
Guelleh's pleasure over the outcome of the Washington visit.
He said it had been important to have the blessing of the
United States in the aftermath of presidential elections and
to re-confirm the closeness of U.S.-Djiboutian ties. He said
he believed President Guelleh had succeeded well in
explaining the views of Djibouti to the United States and
that all in the Djiboutian delegation thought the President
and Secretary Rice had established a warm rapport. Youssuf
expressed hope that the Secretary had seen Guelleh as a
president who can make a difference in the Horn of Africa,
despite the many tensions there such as between Ethiopia and
Eritrea and in Sudan.



3. (C) Youssuf summarized content of the Secretary
Rice-Guelleh meeting along the same lines as reftel. He said
internally, Guelleh had stressed that democracy is moving
ahead and had promised the Secretary to make the system work
in Djibouti. He said the president had conveyed the
intention to organize regional elections in the next two to
three years and would also make significant strides towards a
legislative system of proportional representation. He also
said Guelleh had pledged to serve out his second term and no
more. Ambassador emphasized the importance of this
commitment to reform saying that the last election had
revealed systemic realities that in many ways were serving to
undermine the progress of democracy in Djibouti even where
there is no malevolent intent in this regard on the part of
the government.



4. (C) Youssuf said Guelleh had made only one request in his
meetings in Washington with Secretary Rice and with USAID
Director Natsios. That request was for development
assistance (DA). He said the president had used the word
"frustration" to describe his concerns in this regard and
that the Secretary had pledged to look into the matter.
USAID Administrator Natsios, Youssuf said, had pointed out in
their meeting that DA "is subject to congressional monitoring
and was more difficult to use without approval of Congress."
With Economic Support Funds (ESF), Youssuf stated, Natsios
had said ESF could be used more in keeping with "government
preferences." Youssuf continued that Guelleh had pointed out
to Natsios that ESF was not a guaranteed form of assistance
and that this reality was of primary concern to Djibouti for
planning purposes.



5. (C) Also in the meeting with Natsios, Youssuf stated that
issues of energy and water had been raised. Guelleh had told
Natsios, according to Youssuf, that Djibouti would like to
look into dedicating additional funds next year to
development of the country's energy potential. Djibouti
wants investment in geothermal and wind energy, especially in
the outlying areas where demand for energy is far less than
in the capital and where a source such as wind energy might
make an immediate and constructive difference.



6. (C) With NSC Director Courville, Youssuf praised the
content and quality of the meeting. He said the delegation
had discussed with her how Djibouti could attract investments
that might enable it to develop further its limited natural
resources. Youssuf indicated that there might, for example,
be an opportunity for Djibouti to link with the U.S. retailer
"Target" to market bath salt crystals whose raw materials
would come from Djibouti.



7. (C) Youssuf also spoke of his satisfaction with the
outcome of the delegation's meeting with the International
Republican Institute (IRI) which had led preliminary
observations of Djibouti's presidential election in the week
preceding the national vote. He said IRI told the delegation
that participation of all components of the political society
was essential in order to lay the foundation for developing a
democratic country. IRI had indicated its belief, he
continued, that there was great hope for democracy in
Djibouti and had stressed the importance of the role of a
viable opposition. Ambassador affirmed the position of IRI
and said it was also her intent, as we work with the
Government of Djibouti to assist in further
democracy-building, to meet as well with opposition members
to help them focus on what is expected and required of an
opposition in a democratic society. She said she was not
sure that was well understood by current opposition leaders
more focused on opposing actions, on general principle, than
in setting the stage for discussions about opposing ideas.
Ambassador also said there might be room for IRI to assist as
well in this regard.



8. (C) Ambassador expressed pleasure overall that the visit
had gone well and that the President had decided to make the
journey. Youssuf thanked the Ambassador for her personal
efforts in trying to make it happen. Speaking
confidentially, he said he thought the idea had initially met

SIPDIS
some resistance from Ambassador Olhaye in Washington, "who
had had his own agenda" and who preferred to wait to set up a
higher level visit, perhaps later in the year. Youssuf said
he had convinced Guelleh that it is important to go now
because of the critical nature of the base lease negotiations
underway in Washington, the start of his new mandate for a
second six years in office, and because there could be no
guarantee of getting on President Bush's calendar before the
end of the year.



9. (C) Strategically speaking, Youssuf added that Djibouti is
increasingly realizing that its approach to diplomatic
relations with the United States has to be on many levels.
Relations with members of Congress, for example, and with
other agencies will become increasingly important as the
relationship with the U.S. deepens. He said one of the
advantages of having Olhaye in Washington is his expertise in
this regard.



10. (C) Comment: We expect significant energy and change at
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs now that the youthful Mahmoud
Ali Youssuf has assumed fully the mantle of Minister of
Foreign Affairs. He is the diplomat's diplomat, fully fluent
in three world languages -- Arabic, English, and French --
and has won the hearts and respect of the entire diverse
diplomatic corps in Djibouti as well as Djiboutians. We will
likely see greater dynamism and boldness in a Youssuf tenure,
and the first inkling of this was his deftness in pulling off
the Guelleh visit to Washington as a follow-on stopover from
a Brazil trip. It gave Guelleh the legitimacy he sought
after winning his second mandate in a one-candidate race.
The visit can be seen also as having laid the groundwork for
a stopover in France immediately after, where Guelleh was
received by President Chirac, despite continuing difficulties
relating to the sensitive Borrel case now pending before a
French court. End comment.
RAGSDALE