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2005-10-11 06:28:00
Embassy Paris
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 006938 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/30/2015

REF: A. PARIS 6434 B. PARIS 6887

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Josiah B. Rosenblatt. Reas

ons 1.4b,d

PDAS-Equivalent Barbier and DAS-Equivalent Le Gal October 6
to discuss areas of converging interest in Africa. Barbier
struck a positive note of appreciation for ongoing
cooperation and consultations. France shared U.S. views on
Sudan, including Darfur, and wished to be helpful. Barbier
said there was great interest in the notional U.S. suggestion
for a Darfur conference aiming to build rebel cohesion.
AMIS, she thought, would need to transition into a UN
operation by summer 2006, but on terms acceptable to the
African Union. She said European partners had informed Paris
of U.S. plans for an 10/12 D.C. meeting on planning for the
future of AMIS, apparently restricted to the Troika-plus.
She said France would like to attend, if invited. Barbier
also sketched French plans for the military reorganization of
African bases and its relationship to French-EU capacity
building through RECAMP.


-- Please provide guidance on the French request to
participate in the 10/12 meeting in D.C. on planning for the
future of AMIS.

-- Please provide guidance to share with the Quai d'Orsay on
thinking for a notional Darfur conference in the near term.


3. (U) EUR PDAS Volker and AF PDAS-Equivalent Elisabeth
Barbier met October 6 to discuss areas of converging
interests in Africa. AF DAS-equivalent for East Africa
Helene Le Gal and Sudan/Ethiopia/Eritrea Desk Officer Jeremie
Robert also participated on the French side, as well as
Political Minister Counselor Rosenblatt, Africa Watcher and
visiting EUR/WE France Desk Officer Susan Ball. AF
A/S-equivalent Bruno Joubert was absent on travel, but
Barbier expressed appreciation on his behalf for recent
Washington meetings, as well as for continuing cooperation
and consultations, noting in particular the digital video
conferences on DRC and Mauritania.


Sudan / Darfur


4. (C) On Sudan, Barbier emphasized Joubert's Washington
exchanges were especially valuable and indicated a broad
convergence of views. France, like the U.S., was very
concerned by Darfur, particularly because of the impact on
Chad, which she described as "very unhappy." France, Barbier
claimed, had been in the vanguard of those sounding the
alarm, long before ministerial visits to the region became
routine, even "a la mode." The fallout of John Garang's
death could have been worse, she remarked; the North-South
process, though slowed, remained on track, even if SPLM

representation in the Government of National Unity was less
significant than hoped. However, Salva Kir, Garang's
successor as First Vice President, was not taking much
interest in resolving Darfur, she regretted.

5. (C) Barbier emphasized Joubert's interest in follow-up on
a U.S. suggestion for a conference on Darfur aiming to create
more cohesion among rebel factions. France would be
supportive, she said, however the U.S. wanted to proceed and
whatever venue the U.S. should elect, including Chad. The
Abuja Peace Process was stalling; the SLM -- especially Mini
Minawi -- was a "big spoiler." France, like the U.S., had
sought to apply pressure to the SLM, both directly and
indirectly through Chad, but without tangible results (Ref).
It may be time to threaten sanctions under Resolution 1591
against individuals impeding the peace process. Stern public
discourse was needed by all, she said, given the worsening
situation on the ground. Le Gal lamented the failure at the
Abuja talks even to reinforce and reiterate the ceasefire, a
lapse that could directly impact on AMIS forces. Security
matters should take priority, she said, over deliberations on
wealth and power sharing.

6. (C) Barbier said France lacked specific information on
the cross-border attacks into Chad. Such attacks were not
infrequent, she added; their attribution to "Janjaweed" was
imprecise. Chad's diplomatic retaliation against Sudan was a
significant reaction. Barbier speculated on "one way of
reading" the incident involving Chad's historically rocky --
even if recently outwardly calm -- relationship with Libya.
She wondered if Khartoum had been unsettled by Chad's recent
reconciliation with the JEM, which has close links to Libya,
and whether the cross-border attack was meant as a reminder
that N'djamena must not neglect its Eastern neighbor. (Note:
Le Gal called attention in a previous meeting with Africa
Watcher to Deby's September meetings with Qadhafi. Ref B.)

7. (C) Barbier said there were limits to the effectiveness
of AMIS, because AU forces lack the means to "cover enough of
Darfur." More AU troops meant ever more donor money and she
discounted the likelihood of AMIS ever growing to 12,000. AU
Chairperson Konare and Commissioner Djinnit were talking
opening, she said, of possibly blue-hatting AMIS. However,
the AU hasn't yet decided, according to Konare, a point that
Barbier underscored as a salient reminder that the AU would
protect its prerogatives. In the event of blue-hatting,
"AMIS has to be seen as an African success," not as "a
retreat." Le Gal, who deemed June 2006 a likely target for
the transition to a UN operation, noted that $200 million
would still be necessary to cover interim costs. She
understood the U.S. might provide $100 million and she
expected the EU would furnish the remainder.


Joint Petroleum Interests in Sudan?


8. (SBU) Barbier suggested a further convergence in French
and U.S. interests in the region, namely ensuring that Sudan
abides by its earlier internal agreements on petroleum
exploration and development. She drew attention to the
partnership between the Marathon Oil Company and Total in


African Capacity Building


9. (C) At PDAS Volker's request, Barbier elaborated on
reports of a possible French military reorganization in
Africa and the relation to the French RECAMP program for
capacity building in Africa. Cautioning no official decision
had yet been taken, Barbier confirmed that France planned to
reorient its military presence around core bases in Djibouti,
Senegal and Gabon, each of which would provide military
capacity training and logistical support to regional African
organizations. The rank for the commander in Dakar Senegal
and Libreville, Gabon would rise from Colonel to Brigadier
General, she said. She noted that France had been trying to
extend RECAMP's reach beyond West Africa, and had even begun
training programs in English. Such capacity training
conformed to international goals articulated during the U.S.
G-8 presidency.

10. (C) Noting U.S. initiatives through GPOI and ACOTA, PDAS
Volker asked where Barbier saw possibilities of
complementarity, for instance through NATO. Barbier
commented that Africa required such a degree of assistance
that many different solutions should be tried; establishing
training centers in Africa seemed the most cost-effective
approach. The core French bases would be training platforms,
Barbier said, "focal points" for coordination with notional
African Union standby forces. (Note: AF "Crisis Management"
Director Franois-Xavier Leger told Africa Watcher October 5
that the French bases would include RECAMP training cells,
that senior African Union and regional military officials
would be seconded to the bases, as would EU officers. RECAMP
would take on an increasingly EU signature, Leger suggested.
He added that the reason for promoting the base commanders
to brigadier general was simply to ensure parity of rank with
senior Africans.) The Abidjan base in Cote d'Ivoire was a
different category, she said, and its life-cycle was tied now
to Operation Licorne and UNOCI. The military base on the
French territory of Reunion would, however, play a supporting
role in the reorganization and serve to coordinate with SADC.


Cote d'Ivoire


11. (C) On Cote d'Ivoire, Barbier offered no specific plan
of action. France was watching ongoing African Union
deliberations carefully. Concerted international pressure
would be imperative to facilitate a transition to "free, fair
and proper" elections, possibly within 6-8 months. France
would look for U.S. help, she said, in formulating
appropriate UNSC action. Barbier noted that Senegal and
Ghana -- specifically Ghana President Kufuor who visited
France 10/3-10/6 -- were each calling for a stronger UN
force, a proposal she recognized would likely not be
well-received by the U.S. She mentioned that French troops
assigned to Operation Licorne in support of UNOCI would
remain in Cote d'Ivoire so long as the UN retained its
mandate and there is AU support.


Other African Asides


12. (C) While maintaining that cooperation between the U.S.
and France in Africa was positive overall, Barbier
volunteered there was disagreement on how to proceed on
Zimbabwe, stressing however that France was not pro-Mugabe,
just not convinced that direct confrontation would open "a
way out of this big black hole." On Liberia, Barbier
deferred explicitly to the U.S. lead. However, there was a
disconnect, she suggested, with certain parties in the U.S.
Congress on how to pursue former Liberian President Charles
Taylor in Nigeria. France certainly agreed on the need for
justice, she stressed. However, President Obasanjo should
have a say on the timing. On DRC and Mauritania, Barbier
expressed appreciation for past consultations by digital
video conferences. Barbier concluded the meeting with a plea
for attention to the Central African Republic, a "forgotten
crisis" which she described as "our pet project." She
suggested the U.S. could exert helpful influence on
international financial institutions.
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