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Cablegate: Real Progress Seen but Sudan Prepares Adada for Protracted

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #1979 3461332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 121332Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9526
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001979

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF S/E NATSIOS, AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO UN AU SU LY
SUBJECT: REAL PROGRESS SEEN BUT SUDAN PREPARES ADADA FOR PROTRACTED
SOFA TALKS

1. (SBU) During a December 11 meeting with Joint Special
Representative Rudolphe Adada, mid-ranking Sudanese officials from
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense agreed
to negotiate the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)'s Status of Forces
Agreement (SOFA) based on the UN/AU draft but "promised it would be
a long process," Adada's chief of staff, Abdulrahman Abubakar, told
Poloff after the meeting. The first negotiating session on the SOFA
is scheduled for December 12. Sudan reiterated its position that
all discussions on UNAMID deployment be considered through the
Tripartite Mechanism. The Government also indicated that a team of
its lawyers, including several from its overseas missions, will be
present for the SOFA discussions. Adada insisted that all UNAMID
issues be addressed "bilaterally," as he represents both the UN and
the AU.

2. (SBU) Sudan admitted that unrestricted access for UNAMID,
including night flights, is "enshrined" in UN Security Council
Resolution 1769 but continues to demand that the UN/AU first upgrade
the air facilities in Darfur, prior even to conducting medical
evacuations. The Government contended that current airports cannot
accommodate night flights. Adada tried to "de-link" the issue of
airport capacity from the policy question of whether Sudan will
allow night flights, given that UNAMID helicopters should have the
technology to fly in the dark (once those choppers are actually
identified and arrive).

-----------------
TCCs Still Sticky
-----------------

3. (SBU) Sudan maintained its rejection of Scandinavian
contributions for UNAMID. "They don't even want to hear about the
Nordics," said Abubakar. Sudanese officials said that they will
wait for Egyptian and Ethiopian units to deploy before deciding on
other troop contributors, suggesting that these two countries could
compensate for a potential deficit in forces by increasing their
contributions. Recalling its participation in previous UN
recruitment visits to potential TCCs, Sudan proposed a "partnership"
and requested its officials be part of any future UN/AU assessment
missions.

-------------
Some Progress
-------------

4. (SBU) The Government has made some real progress in critical
issues effecting UNAMID transition in the next few weeks, according
to Abubakar. On December 10, Sudan released the communications
equipment that had languished in bureaucratic red-tape. In
addition, the Government agreed that UNAMID troops can don blue
helmets/berets, with the caveat that a "distinctive sign" on their
uniforms acknowledges the AU's involvement in the mission. Abubakar
noted, however, that the UN and AU still need to agree on the
insignia for the helmets.

5. (SBU) Land issues for UNAMID facilities in Darfur have also been
resolved, with one notable exception. "There is absolutely no
problem anywhere with land, except for El Geneina," said Abubakar.
He attributed the delay to the local West Darfur authorities, who
objected to the UN/AU's chosen site because it is near a Sudanese
military camp. In Nyala, Sudan agreed to allocate seven helicopter
"parking spaces" to UNAMID.

6. (SBU) Comment: Real progress, albeit painfully complex and
involved at times, is being made in resolving issues related to
UNAMID deployment in the past days. Aside from the major issue of
TCC composition (where there seems to still be some flexibility on
the possibility of Nepalese and Thai troops), Sudan has improved its
support for this massive mission. The challenge is to continue to
encourage/pressure them towards cooperation with UN/AU effort which,
aside from Sudanese policies, has its own major internal problems.
End comment.

FERNANDEZ

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