|09ADDISABABA2495||2009-10-20 09:13:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Addis Ababa|
1. (SBU) Summary: In their first official meeting, USAU
Ambassador Battle and AU Commission Deputy Chairperson
Erastus Mwencha affirmed the need to broaden and deepen the
U.S./AU partnership that began when the AU emerged seven
years ago. Specifically, the AU leadership is seeking a
strategic dialogue with the U.S. in Washington in the spring
of 2010. As he did in his visit to Washington last spring,
Mwencha again said the AU leadership would be interested in
having a meeting with the Secretary and POTUS while in
Washington, and he again issued an invitation for the
President to address a future AU Summit. End Summary.
2. (SBU) On October 16, USAU Ambassador Battle, accompanied
by A/DCM and AU Desk Officer, called on AU Deputy Chairperson
Mwencha. Although it was the first meeting in Mwencha's AU
headquarters office, they had met earlier in the day during
the closing session of a Media Training workshop for AU
Commission staff sponsored by USAU. Mwencha, a Kenyan who
came to the AU via COMESA where he served as its executive
secretary, wasted no time in expressing his appreciation for
the Obama Administration's focus on Africa. The President's
speech delivered from the national parliament in Accra, Ghana
was "still resonating" across the continent, Mwencha said.
"Africa does not need strong men; it needs strong
institutions," he said, repeating the words that have struck
an important chord. "That is the foundation of our future,"
3. (SBU) Mwencha went on to praise the new Administration for
introducing a "soft approach" to diplomacy, and, as so many
other AU officials and AU partner diplomats have done in
recent days, he congratulated the President for winning the
Nobel Peace Prize. "That shows the potential that there is,"
he said. POTUS has "changed the course of the international
4. (SBU) Mwencha, regarded by most as the AU Commission's
visionary and certainly the organization's leader on matters
of institutional reform, took several minutes to provide the
Ambassador with the AU's historical context and the
principles that guide the AU today. In the seven years since
the AU succeeded the OAU, the demand for AU resources has
"grown exponentially" but the AU's capacity to respond has
not kept up with the demand, Mwencha assessed.
5. (SBU) The AU Commission, which already has strategic
partnerships with the European Union and other international
partners, believes it is now time to engage in a strategic
dialogue with the USG. "The U.S. is such a strong partner
that our partnership should be deepened," he told the
Ambassador. (Note: This is a message that all of the AU
leadership has been bringing to our attention both in
Washington and at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa in recent
months. AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping would like to
formalize this dialogue when he travels to Washington in the
spring of 2010. End note.) Mwencha, in response to a
question from the Ambassador, said the AU would like to both
deepen and broaden the relationship. He previewed the spring
2010 visit to Washington by saying Chairperson Ping would
like to meet with the Secretary and also have a courtesy call
on POTUS. He also repeated the AU's desire to have POTUS
address a future AU Summit. The Ambassador promised to relay
this message to Washington.
6. (SBU) The Ambassador thanked Mwencha for his concise and
helpful briefing of the AU, and confirmed the U.S. desire to
solidify the bilateral dialogue. The Obama Administration is
keen to work with partners to solve problems, he said.
"Africa's future is up to Africans to decide. Our role is to
be partners with Africans," the Ambassador told Mwencha.
Africa is strategically significant, the Ambassador
continued, citing the need to achieve food self-sufficiency
on the continent. The Ambassador reviewed with Mwencha the
new Administration's systematic review of Africa policy. The
U.S. is also taking a look at what Africa will look like 100
years from now, including how a developed infrastructure will
better serve the economies on the continent.
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7. (SBU) Mwencha used this introductory meeting to thank the
U.S. for supporting AMISOM and the Somali Transitional
Federal Government. He assessed that neither AMISOM nor the
TFG are strong enough on the ground to counter the potential
spread of Al Qaida in the region.
8. (SBU) At a subsequent meeting with Mwencha, he emphasized
his interest in having a USAFRICOM team consult with the AU
on counternarcotics measures (see reftel).