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Cablegate: Meles Pressures Codel Meek On H.R. 2003

VZCZCXRO3134
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #3542 3510533
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 170533Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8852
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 003542

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OREP PREL PGOV EAID PTER ET SO
SUBJECT: MELES Pressures CODEL MEEK on H.R. 2003

1. (SBU) Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles pressured Codel Meek to
reverse his support for H.R. 2003 - The Ethiopia Democracy and
Accountability Act - during a November 29 meeting. Meles went on to
describe the bill as an attempt to micromanage Ethiopia's internal
processes and said he felt personally bruised by the bill.

2. (SBU) In a meeting that also included Congress members Michael
Arcuri, Tim Ryan, and Yvette D. Clarke, Meles said the bill is too
serious to be ignored. He said the close cooperative relationship
Ethiopia currently enjoys with the United States would be impossible
if H.R. 2003 were to become law. The prime minister noted that the
bill was "asking Ethiopia to do something even the United States
does not do," which is to appoint representatives from all political
parties represented in Parliament to a national election board. The
bill, he said "suggests that unless we do what the United States
says, we're not democratic." Meles said the election board process
was agreed to by all parties, and for Congress to take a minority
view on the matter transforms Ethiopia into a protectorate.

3. (SBU) In responding, Meek noted that the U.S. Administration has
a different perspective on Ethiopia than is expressed by H.R. 2003,
and that many members of Congress do not share or understand the
Administration's position. Meek said that while members of Congress
are not experts on foreign policy, they do represent the people of
the United States, many of whom do not understand the aftermath of
the May 2005 Ethiopian elections. Meek stressed that H.R. 2003 was
not meant to embarrass Ethiopia. Congresswoman Clarke agreed,
adding she was not proud that the Ethiopian Government (GoE) was
insulted by H.R. 2003 and that she wanted to learn more about the
issue.

4. (SBU) On Somalia, Meles praised the excellent cooperation the GOE
enjoys with the Department of Defense in Somalia. He noted how well
developed the two countries' information sharing has become, and
noted his pleasure with the shared response to terrorism in Somalia.
The prime minister said the GoE did not request financial support
from the United States for its work in Somalia, but noted that the
USG has given USD $19 million to Uganda to help with peacekeeping.
He also praised the excellent relationship the GoE enjoys with
CENTCOM and said he didn't want to jeopardize that relationship when
AFRICOM comes.

5. (SBU) On the situation in the Ogaden, Meles said "we haven't
burnt villages in the Ogaden and DoD would know if we did. Why
didn't the USG listen to its own military instead of listening to
biased parties? There is no genocide, only counter-insurgency.
Congress can criticize us, but first they should check the facts,
and second, criticize, but don't dictate our behavior. We just want
respect." Meek said the prime minister's ideas had great merit and
promised to return to Congress and engage his colleagues on these
issues. He expressed appreciation for the GoE's contributions on
behalf of security in Africa and worldwide.

6. (U) Congressman Meek has not cleared this cable.

YAMAMOTO

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