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Cablegate: Visit of Deputy Secretary Negroponte to Mali,

VZCZCXYZ1489
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBP #1363/01 3321103
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281103Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAMAKO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8451
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0040
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0005
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0012
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0001
RUEHSB/AMEMBASSY HARARE 0029
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0004
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 0009
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0017
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0008
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0007
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0007
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0003
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0140
RUEHUM/AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR 0005

UNCLAS BAMAKO 001363

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EFIN ECON ML
SUBJECT: VISIT OF DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE TO MALI,
COMMUNITY OF DEMOCRACIES MINISTERIAL

REF: A. BAMAKO 1339
B. BAMAKO 1336

1. Summary: The Deputy Secretary's November 14-15 visit to
Mali as head of the U.S. delegation to the Community of
Democracies (CD) Ministerial reaffirmed our strong bilateral
ties and sent a clear message of support for Mali's CD
Presidency. During the CD Meeting, the Deputy met with
representatives from NGOs from non-democratic countries,
participated in the launch of a working group bringing
together democracies in the Asia-Pacific region, and engaged
with delegates from other democratic states. On the
bilateral side, he met with President Toure and FM Ouane
(septel) and reached out to Mali's own civil society The
Deputy's press conference with a variety of Malian and
international correspondents highlighted the strength of
U.S.-Malian relations and clarified U.S. military engagement
in the North of the country. End summary

--------------------------------------------
U.S. - Strong Support for Mali's CD Presidency
--------------------------------------------

2. The Deputy Secretary's visit, beginning with his arrival
via Timbuktu, received prominent and positive press coverage
(reftel A). His acknowledgment of Mali's long tradition of
religious tolerance and Islamic scholarship during his calls
on Muslim leaders in the brief stop in Timbuktu further
reaffirmed the positive message carried by the U.S.
delegation. The Deputy's presence and his role as opening
ceremony speaker, along with Ambassador Danilovich's
participation in the CD opening, communicated strong U.S.
support for the Community of Democracies and our appreciation
to Mali for its chairmanship during the last year.

--------------------------------------------- -----------------
CD - Meeting with NGO Representatives from Undemocratic States
--------------------------------------------- -----------------

3. The Deputy Secretary's meeting with representatives of
NGO's from non-democratic countries (defined as CD observer
countries or countries not invited) on the margins of the
Ministerial provided them an opportunity to voice specific
concerns:

--Joel Brito, International Group for Social Corporate
Responsibility (Cuba): Noted that President Bush's recent
speech on Cuba was well-received among the opposition.

--Saad Eddin Ibrahim, Activist, American University of Cairo
(Egypt): Wished to elevate the fate of imprisoned
journalists and the importance of a free press. Noted that
democracy had been good for Africa, but said there were still
cases of special concern, including Egypt. They added that
Ethiopia was no longer following a democratic agenda, and
they urged the United States to help put Ethiopia back on the
right track.

--Reza Eslami-Somea, Professor, University of Shahid
Behesthti (Iran): NGO representatives noted the need for
further academic and cultural exchanges, but complained that
these exchanges were frequently frustrated by the
difficulties in obtaining U.S. visas.

--Oyo Obe, Civil Liberties Organization and Chair of the
World Movement for Democracy (Nigeria): Emphasized the
importance of involving civil society in the democratization
process.

--Yuri Dzhibladze, Center for the Development of Democracy
and Human Rights (Russia): Expressed their interests in
promoting greater communication between NGO's, noting that
the government controlled nearly all the mass media but that
the internet provided a way to publish and make available to
the public much more material.

--Mohsen Marzouk, Kawakibi, Center for Democratic Transition

(Tunisia): Urged a stronger diplomatic and Embassy role in
supporting democracy, and encouraged NGO's to be more active
in promoting their effectiveness and results. Stated need
for regional and local strategy. Said they had plenty of
money, "maybe too much," but did not know how to best spend
it.

--Carlos Ponce, Justice Consortium and Milos Alcalay, former
Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN (Venezuela): Would like to
see a regional NGO support network. Asked for greater
involvement and support from regional organizations such as
the OAS. The NGO representatives argued that these regional
organizations were needed to actively counter Venezuelan
President Chavez' funding of anti-democratic programs in
Nicaragua and Bolivia,

--Vo Van Ai, Que Me: Action for Democracy on Vietnam
(Vietnam): Raised their concern over plight of political
prisoners. Saw the economy opening and rise in number of
democratic activists.

--John Makumbe, University of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe): Asked
what additional resources might be made available to them
(Embassy note: they were provided information on draft
legislation, the "Democracy Development Act," that if passed
may provide financial aid to pro-demacracy advocates who are
victimized by the state due to their political activities.)

---------------------------------------
CD - Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership
---------------------------------------

4. The Deputy Secretary also hosted a working breakfast to
discuss the creation of an Asia-Pacific Democracy
Partnership, to bring established democracies from the region
together to create a framework for supporting neighboring
emerging democracies. The Canadian, Mongolian, South Korean,
and the Philippines representatives whole-heartedly supported
the initiative, while several others suggested a slower
approach. Also in attendance were representatives of
Australia, India, Indonesia, and Japan. The group agreed to
meet again in early 2008, in Asia, at a date yet to be
determined. In the meantime, the USG will produce a new
non-paper on the proposed APDP structure and priorities, and
engage in further bilateral discussions to pave the way for
the larger group meeting.

--------------------------------
Bilateral - Mali's Civil Society
--------------------------------

5. Representatives of Malian civil society told the Deputy
Secretary of their concerns about forms of slavery still

SIPDIS
practiced in Mali, and the opposition of Imams and Muslim
groups to President Toure's proposal to amend Mali's Family
Code and abolish the death penalty (reftel B). Malian
women's groups expressed reservations at challenging the
Imams in their contention that the death penalty was in
keeping with Koranic principles. Representatives of the
women's groups and religious leaders were both unhappy that
the President had announced the proposals without consulting
civil society.

----------------
Press Conference
----------------

6. During a brief press conference on the eve of his
departure, the Deputy Secretary told the Malian press corps
that, as one of Mali's oldest allies, the U.S. is committed
to reinforcing Mali's democratic tradition. He noted that
Mali benefits from a broad range of U.S. assistance programs,
including USAID, the MCC, the President's Malaria Initiative,
and Military humanitarian assistance. Malian journalists
were particularly interested in U.S. military assistance to
Mali and rumors of a U.S. military base in northern Mali.
The Deputy Secretary dispelled these rumors, stating that the

U.S. has no intention of installing a military base in the
north. He said members of the U.S. military present in
northern Mali were there only to provide counter-terrorism
training to the Malian military. In response to questions
regarding AFRICOM, the Deputy Secretary said the U.S.
continued to consult with African countries about the
location of AFRICOM headquarters, which is currently located
in Germany. Following the press conference, some Malian
newspapers speculated that Mali figures high on the list of
potential AFRICOM sites.

7. The Deputy Secretary's staff has cleared this message.
McCulley

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