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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07BANJUL197 2007-04-17 15:28:00 SECRET Embassy Banjul
Cable title:  

THE GAMBIA: UPDATE ON TIES WITH IRAN, VENEZUELA

Tags:   PREL PGOV MASS GA IR VE KMCA 
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VZCZCXRO8177
RR RUEHLMC
DE RUEHJL #0197 1071528
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 171528Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANJUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7463
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0013
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE//POLAD/J2//
					  S E C R E T BANJUL 000197 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DAKAR PLS PASS RAO, ODC, AND DAO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/17/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV MASS GA IR VE KMCA
SUBJECT: THE GAMBIA: UPDATE ON TIES WITH IRAN, VENEZUELA

REF: A. BANJUL 81 ET AL

B. 06 BANJUL 439 (ALL NOTAL)

Classified By: AMBASSADOR JOSEPH STAFFORD, REASON 1.4 (B AND D)

GAMBIAN EMBASSY IN TEHRAN
--------------------------



1. (U) Following February reports that The Gambia and Iran
would soon exchange embassies (ref a), GOTG officials confirm
the official opening April 15 of The Gambian Embassy in the
Iranian capital. We are told that Gambian Foreign Minister
Bala Garba Jahumpa headed the GOTG's delegation at the event.
The Gambian Ambassador is former Foreign Minister and
Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Lamin Kaba Bajo. At the opening
ceremony, Iranian media quoted GOI Foreign Minister Mottaki
as saying Tehran would open its Embassy in Banjul "in the
near future."

EXPANDING GAMBIAN/IRANIAN TIES


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





2. (S) The Embassy's opening underscores the expanding
Gambian/Iranian relationship following Iranian President
Ahmadinejad's attendance at the GOTG-hosted African Union
Summit here in July 2006. Subsequently, in December/January,
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh exchanged visits with
Ahmadinejad, and the two sides signed various economic and
other cooperation agreements. As previously reported (ref
a), there is currently a small Iranian military training
mission here; we note reporting in other USG channels
indicating a recent Iranian arms shipment to The Gambia.
According to a knowledgeable source, Iranian commercial
activity, involving Lebanese-origin Shia residents, in
particular, has expanded considerably here in recent months.

TIES WITH VENEZUELA


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





3. (S) Like Ahmadinejad, Venezuelan President Chavez attended
the July 2006 AU Summit here at the Gambian leader's personal
invitation (ref b). Compared to the Iranian relationship,
though, the development of Gambian/Venezuelan ties has
proceeded at a more modest pace in past months. Following
the Summit, there was talk of a commitment by Chavez to
supply oil to The Gambia at concessionary prices, but, to
our knowledge, the Venezuelans have yet to provide any such
oil-related assistance. (COMMENT: Per ref a, the Iranians,
by contrast, have provided some oil-related aid, according to
reporting in other USG channels. END COMMENT) On April 12,
the Gambian National Assembly ratified a bilateral "framework
agreement on cooperation," whereby the two sides pledged to
strengthen cooperation in a wide array of areas, ranging from
energy to military affairs, but made no mention of specific
projects. The local media gave lavish coverage to
Dakar-based Venzuelan Ambassador Eddy Jose Cordova-Corega's
presentation of credentials, also on April 12.

COMMENT


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





4. (C) It is likely that the mercurial Gambian President
initially reached out to Iran and Venezuela as part of his
angry reaction to the USG's June 2006 suspension of The
Gambia's eligibility for the Millenium Challenge Account
program due to slippage in the GOTG's performance on various
eligibility criteria, particularly in the area of human
rights and governance. So far, as Jammeh has pursued links
with Ahmadinejad and Chavez, the GOTG has indicated its
desire to maintain cooperation with us in such key areas as
counterterrorism. Whatever Jammeh's intentions, though,his
overtures to Iran and Venezuela make clear that his
reliability as a partner on CT or other areas cannot simply
be taken for granted. END COMMENT.
STAFFORD