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Cablegate: Djibouti Replaces Dubai As a Food for Peace

VZCZCXRO1384
OO RUEHDE
DE RUEHDJ #1414 3361323
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 021323Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8875
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RHPIGXW/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE
RUEHDJ/USLO DJIBOUTI DJ IMMEDIATE
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0194
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 3744
RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA PRIORITY 2264
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM PRIORITY 0157
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 3327
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI PRIORITY 0185
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T DJIBOUTI 001414

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO USAID FOR ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR
ALMQUIST AND EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT FEINSTEIN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/28/2032
TAGS: DJ EAID ECON ET FAS MAS MOPS PINR PM PREF
PREL, PTER
SUBJECT: DJIBOUTI REPLACES DUBAI AS A FOOD FOR PEACE
PRE-POSITIONING SITE; PRESIDENT GUELLEH WARNS OF
MALNUTRITION, BORDER TENSIONS


Classified By: AMBASSADOR W. STUART SYMINGTON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B)(C)(D)

1. (C) In a November 26 meeting, Djibouti's President Ismael
Omar Guelleh warmly thanked USAID Assistant Administrator for
Africa Kate Almquist for the U.S. decision to make Djibouti
the new site for pre-positioned Food For Peace aid in the
region (replacing Dubai). Guelleh called the decision a vote
of confidence in Djibouti's strategy to partner with Dubai
Ports World to become a key logistical center for trade and
transportation, as well as banking and military support.
Guelleh, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali
Youssuf, said United Arab Emirate investors planned to make
Djibouti an air hub, too, launching a new regional carrier.
Djibouti's goal for the port, Guelleh added, was to service
the growing Ethiopian market and, after expanding port
capacity, to increase transshipments to other countries in
the region until they represented 30-40 percent of the port's
business

2. (SBU) Almquist was joined by Barbara Feinstein, the USAID
Adminitrator's Executive Assistant, USAID/Djibouti's Janet
Schulman, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa Commander
Admiral James Hart, and Ambassador. Almquist congratulated
Guelleh on the great progress she saw in Djibouti since her
last visit. She reaffirmed USAID's commitment to Djibouti
and conveyed USAID Administrator Fore's regrets not to be
able to visit at this time because of an urgent call to
return to Washington in advance of the Middle East meeting.
Almquist praised Djibouti for its public-private
partnerships, and for its new University and Medical School.
She invited Djibouti to send its University head to a
U.S.-hosted conference on higher education next year.

3. (C) Guelleh said malnutrition was Djibouti's greatest
danger. He termed the problem 'alarming" and asked for USAID
expertise, working with private sector initiatives to
increase food security by increasing production. Djibouti is
experimenting with green house cultivation with Indian and
Moroccan help, it is growing crops on land loaned to Djibouti
by Sudan (and seeking similar plots for production in
Ethiopia), and it is planting date tree seedlings. Guelleh
said the first harvest from the Sudan land was expected soon
and would be some 15-20,000 metric tons of grain. Almquist
encouraged public private partnerships to develop new food
production.

4. (S/NF) Turning to security, Guelleh worried that Ethiopian
and Eritrean tensions might lead to conflict. He estimated
at 74,000 the number of troops massed on the border and said
that there was a real danger a spark would set off serious
fighting. Some in Ethiopia favor "breaking" Eritrea now, he
added, because of its support for Ethiopian revolutionaries
and Somali insurgents. But Guelleh predicted Prime Minister
Meles would not initiate action and that Meles could keep his
military in check at the moment. Guelleh said that he had
instructed his Chief of Defense to consult with the French
Armed Forces in Djibouti and with the U.S. to consider joint
efforts to monitor the border area and ensure that neither
Ethiopia or Eritrea used Djiboutian territory to maneuver if
war were to break out. (Note: The French Ambassador later
told me that he had received that request. Under a 1977
security accord, the French are obligated to use their
military here to maintain Djibouti's territorial integrity.
Our military cooperation program here includes ongoing
efforts to enhance Djibouti's capacity to control its own
borders, but not to provide that security ourselves. End
Note.)
SYMINGTON

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