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Cablegate: Unsc Condemns Eritrea, Uncertain On Next Steps

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DE RUCNDT #0175/01 0562108
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 252108Z FEB 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3798
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN IMMEDIATE 0004
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI IMMEDIATE 2083

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 000175

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF AND IO FOR FRONT OFFICE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL UNSC KPAL ET ER MOPS
SUBJECT: UNSC CONDEMNS ERITREA, UNCERTAIN ON NEXT STEPS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. On February 21 A/SYG Mulet told the
Security Council that UNMEE was well along in its staging of
personnel near Asmara for departure and urged Council members
to consider next steps for the mission. Mulet implied that
restructuring would be unwarranted because UNMEE had become
unable to perform its primary mission of faciliating the
demarcation of the border and normalization of
Ethiopia-Eritrea relations. All Council members condemned
Eritrea's cutting off of UNMEE's fuel supply and general
non-cooperation. A few members commiserated with Eritrea's
frustration over lack of movement on demarcation even as they
critcized Eritrea's tactics. The UN Secretariat is preparing
a special report on options for UNMEE's future. END SUMMARY.

UNMEE MOVEMENT TOWARDS ASMARA ONGOING
-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond
Mulet updated the Council on February 21 on UNMEE movement of
military and civilian personnel to the Asmara vicinity in
preparation for departure through Asmara's airport. He said
the Department of Peacekeeping operations (DPKO) could fly
all personnel out within three weeks, but added that movement
of UNMEE heavy equipment through Eritrean ports would require
three months even assuming that adequate fuel were made
available.

3. (SBU) Mulet said DPKO can arrange transport for all UNMEE
personnel but, absent a physical emergency, would like to
consult with the Council on next steps and will quickly
prepare a report detailing relocation possibilities. He
distinguished relocation from repatriation of personnel on
the grounds that relocation can be ordered by DPKO or UNMEE
leaders on the ground whereas repatriation would have to be
based on a Council decision to terminate UNMEE. He said
Ethiopia would host UNMEE temporily if convinced that doing
so would not establish a new temporary security zone or
otherwise compromise Ethiopia's legal position under
applicable treaties. He reminded members, however, that
UNMEE's mandate was to facilitate demarcation of the border
and normalization of relations between the parties, clearly
intimating a view that this mandate could not be carried out
from Ethiopia alone. (NOTE. In a February 25 conversation
with DepPolCouns, DPKO senior advisor Andrei Shkourko
claified that DPKO would prefer not to temporarily relocate
personnel to their home countries vice repatriation because
relocation would require DPKO to continue to pay those
relocated until UNMEE's mandate were up for Council
reconsideration next July. He added that DPKO has begun
preliminary discussions with India and Jordan, UNMEE's main
troop contributors, about the possible reassignment of UNMEE
personnel to other UN peacekeeping operations. END NOTE.)

4. (SBU) Mulet explained to Council members that UNMEE had
begun relocating personnel and equipment to Asmara as "Plan
B" after Eritrea refused passage to UNMEE personnel and
vehicles looking to cross the border into Ethiopia. He said
there were five incidents of Eritrean Defense Forces (EDF)
obstructions to the relocation of UNMEE personnel between
February 17 - 21: the blocking of four Jordanian armored
personnel carriers, the blocking of Indian military personnel
on February 17, the seizing of fuel drums from UNMEE's Mine
Action Coordination Center (MACC) on February 17, the
blocking of Indian military personnel on February 19, and the
detaining of an UNMEE convoy containing 18 mine detecting
dogs and holding them without food or water. Mulet noted the
number of personnel who have relocated from the TSZ to
Asmara: 276 of 491 Jordanian troops, 94 of 353 Indian troops
posted in Eritrea, 68 of 109 military observers, and 60
Indian engineers. All military units have been ordered to
carry as much equipment as possible. UNMEE aims to complete
troop movements to Asmara by February 27. He said that UNMEE
would be "non-operational" while in Asmara.

ASMARA ACTIONS LIMIT OPTIONS
----------------------------

5. (SBU) In response to a question from Ambassador Wolff
regarding UNMEE efforts to engage the government of Eritrea
on the fuel crisis, Mulet said "we did everything we could"
and detailed several unsuccessful attempts to communicate
with Eritrean officials from early December when fuel was
first cut off through last week's trip to the region by a
technical team. Members of the technical team, he said, had

USUN NEW Y 00000175 002 OF 002


their visas revoked by Asmara because their itinerary took
them through Addis Ababa. Mulet said UNMEE had been open to
importing its own fuel or sharing supplies with UNMIS in
neighboring Sudan, but Asmara declined to respond to UNMEE's
overtures along these lines.

6. (SBU) All delegations condemned Eritrea's actions, but to
varying degrees. Russian DPR Dolgov said "it is intolerable
that a member state of the UN on whose territory a PKO is
present not only hinders operations but also blocks
departure." He said Russia would support as strong a UNSC
presidential statement as possible, adding that "we should
refer to 'appropriate measures' without apologizing," a clear
call for sanctions language. Libyan DPR Mubarak represented
the softer end of the range of Council member outrage over
Eritrea's behavior, saying that "the Council should have
focused on demarcation so that Asmara would not have taken
these wrong decisions." Several members -- including
Indonesia, South Africa, Belgium, Croatia, and Italy --
called for the underlying issues of border demarcation and
normalization to be addressed.

7. (SBU) Delegations were divided on next steps for UNMEE.
Russia and South Africa urged UNMEE to relocate temporarily
and continue to monitor the situation, while other
delegations -- including Belgium, Costa Rica, Burkina Faso,
and Libya -- called for the Council to reconsider UNMEE's
mandate.

8. (SBU) After the meeting, Council President and Panamanian
PR Arias told the press that the Council "condemned Eritrea's
systematic violations of successive Security Council
resolutions." Arias said the Council supported SYG Ban's
efforts to resolve in the situation and was waiting for his
special report on the issue.

9. (SBU) COMMENT: Vikram Doraiswami, political counselor at
the Indian Mission to the UN, told DepPolCouns after a
meeting of troop contributing countries on Feburary 22 that
India felt its troops were in a hostile situation in Asmara
and was looking for options for their withdrawal. We not
know whether Asmara would allow UNMEE planes to take off if
they were simply destined for Ethiopia as the last leg in a
relocation of the mission. Upon delivery of the SYG's
special report, expected mid-week, the Council will need to
decide whether to attempt to salvage UNMEE or deploy a new,
smaller UN presence in the area. END COMMENT.

KHALILZAD

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