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Cablegate: Minister Al-Samani On Unamid, Bilateral Cooperation

VZCZCXRO9168
PP RUEHBZ RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1787/01 3220441
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180441Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9193
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001787

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, AF A/S FRAZER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KPKO SOCI AU UN US SU
SUBJECT: MINISTER AL-SAMANI ON UNAMID, BILATERAL COOPERATION

REFTEL: KHARTOUM 1782

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Meeting with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Wasila al-Samani on November 15, CDA Fernandez strongly cautioned
the minister that while his visit to Washington in September and
Foreign Minister Lam Akol's UNGA visit later that month had produced
some positive results, the bilateral relationship was still
difficult. Sudanese obstacles to UNAMID deployment, whether
bureaucratic hiccups or intentional obstructionism, were causing
significant concern in the international community, he said, and
would impact U.S.-Sudanese relations. Al-Samani raised VP Salva
Kiir's visit as a source of contention, but agreed that U.S. and
Sudan must continue to find areas of cooperation. End summary.

-------------------------
UNAMID DELAYS HURT SUDAN,
EXTEND THE NGO MORATORIUM
-------------------------

2. (SBU) CDA told al-Samani that hindering UN/AU efforts to
facilitate UNAMID deployment ran counter to Sudanese national
interests; "even Ban Ki Moon is complaining about you," CDA said.
CDA pointed out the seizure of communications equipment and the
refusal of visas for Dyncorps employees as particular examples. CDA
noted that Washington and New York produced weekly internal reports
on UNAMID deployment, and every week new problems were documented.
"It's death by a thousand cuts," CDA said. CDA also raised the
recent seizure of UN/AU vehicles and radios at El Fasher airport,
and the fact that Sudan had not yet approved the Troop Contributing
Countries (TCC) list. He noted that "if you are doing this on
purpose, you are playing a dangerous game."

3. (SBU) CDA also pressed al-Samani on the necessity of extending
the moratorium on NGO activities (set to expire on January 31,
2008). He advised al-Samani not to take the typical Sudanese
obstructionist path of waiting until the very last minute to approve
the extension and using the Zoe's Ark scandal as a distraction.
Moving to the broader relationship, CDA urged al-Samani to "truly
work with us" to improve bilateral cooperation.

---------------------------------------
INTERNATIOANAL COMMUNITY UNCOOPERATIVE,
RAISING SUDANESE SUSPICIONS
---------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Responding to CDA, al-Samani complained that the AU, UN and
UNAMID didn't follow established guidelines when requesting things
like customs clearances and other bureaucratic matters. (Note:
Al-Samani cited an old example of Jan Pronk protesting the seizure
of two crates of chickens in the middle of the avian flu crisis,
though he hadn't provided any health certificates for the birds. End
note.) Low-level Sudanese customs clerks didn't know how to work
with international agencies, al-Samani claimed; "you can't compare
us with other countries!" On the issue of the seized goods in El
Fasher, al-Samani said that had been resolved and suggested that CDA
call Joint Special Representative Adada if he needed verification.

5. (SBU) CDA suggested that if the Sudanese wanted to counter the
impression that they were obstructing UNAMID efforts, they should
produce a public record of all the visas they'd processed, all the
shipments they'd allowed in since the passage of UNSCR 1769.
Al-Samani seemed to agree, and asked CDA for US assistance. "We need
your help to show that not every impediment is a matter of policy,"
he said. Al-Samani bemoaned the fact that many in the international
community, including the U.S., were actively looking for areas in
which to criticize and "trap" the Sudanese. He said that these
problems were and could be resolved. Al-Samani recalled that he had
been able to clear a backlog of 1200 UN containers at Port Sudan
this summer after a matter of days; "it was all a misunderstanding."


6. (SBU) Al-Samani cited Vice President Salva Kiir's current visit
to Washington as an example of poor cooperation. "You should have
waited for a response from us before going ahead," he said. The
Sudanese had no interest in banning any meetings, he continued, but
the U.S. needed to communicate with the Sudanese government as a
whole, and not solely with favored individuals. CDA countered
al-Samani, noting that the Embassy had sent a dipnote to the MFA
previewing the visit weeks earlier. But Kiir knew of the visit well
in advance, al-Samani insisted, before the government had received
any official notice. The U.S. had invited John Garang, Minni Minawa
and Rebecca Garang to Washington, al-Samani said; why not others who
had also signed peace agreements? Al-Samani said he wanted to change
the minds of hardliners within the Sudanese government who accused
the U.S. of being duplicitous and not interested in even trying to
improve relations. He raised the recent scandal involving the French
NGO Zoe's Ark (REFTEL), claiming that hardliners were asking
themselves that if the French, a "neutral" country, could do such a
thing, what was the U.S. capable of?


KHARTOUM 00001787 002 OF 002


--------------------
NEED TO MOVE FORWARD
--------------------

7. (SBU) The U.S. was still committed to improving the bilateral
relationship, CDA assured al-Samani, and reiterated the relatively
positive impact of his recent visit to Washington. He again urged
al-Samani of the need to extend the NGO moratorium, advising him to
set a firm date, and have a signing ceremony; "the NGOs will
publicly thank you," CDA said. Al-Samani raised the possibility of a
return follow-up trip to Washington, and CDA agreed, when the time
was right.

8. (SBU) Comment: A non-NCP member who has thrown his lot in with
the regime, Al-Samani has indeed solved many working level problems
with UNAMID deployment and related issues. But no Sudanese official
asks themselves the basic question: Why obstruct in the first place
something you supposedly want and accept like UNSCR 1769, and what
conclusions should the international community draw from this
behavior? End comment.

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