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Cablegate: Goss Minister Presses for U.S. Commitment On Abyei Dispute

VZCZCXRO2395
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0432 0840453
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 240453Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0294
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000432

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON AND AF/SPG
NSC FOR HUDSON AND PITTMAN
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS KDEM SU
SUBJECT: GOSS MINISTER PRESSES FOR U.S. COMMITMENT ON ABYEI DISPUTE


1. (SBU) GOSS Presidential Affairs Minister Luka Biong Deng
recently told ConGen Juba PolOff that President Kiir was struck by
the frank nature of Kiir's meeting with with Special Envoy Richard
S. Williamson. Deng noted that Kiir was "relieved by the clarity of
the message." Deng himself was less confident, however, noting that
"obviously, this could lead us to take a stronger, more forceful
position with the National Congress Party, but we need to be sure of
the consistency of U.S. support - and the strength of the American
backing." He claimed to know "from our sources in Washington" that
the United States is exploring "alternate options to Abyei than via
implementation of the ABC Report alone."

2. (SBU) Poloff responded that the Special Envoy's openness
required little elaboration. The United States is deeply aware of
its role in crafting the Abyei Protocol and remains committed to
resolving Abyei just as it remains committed to the CPA's
implementation. Pressed on whether the U.S. commitment extends to
the implementation of the ABC Report's findings, PolOff countered
that reports presented at the Assessment and Evaluation Commission
and elsewhere suggest that the SPLM walked away from an April 2007
agreement reached at the SPLM/NCP Executive Committee talks that
divorced the question of Abyei's geographical boundaries from its
oil wealth.

3. (SBU) Deng denied that the NCP/SPLM talks had ever reached
agreement on Abyei-specific wealth sharing. He asserted that the
SPLM is open to an extraordinary agreement, but the NCP broke off
talks without explanation and has not entertained SPLM requests
since to restart them. While oil is "a factor" with respect to
Abyei, he said the preeminent concern is establishing the region's
borders and safeguarding its right to participate in the 2011
referendum. PolOff noted that the USG non-paper included language
about the Interim Administration, and that that was the first of
many steps towards pressing President Bashir to abide by his CPA
obligations. Deng accepted this, but continued "I used to be one of
those that argued we should give the NCP space (on Abyei), but I
have abandoned that position. Does Washington stand with me?"

4. (SBU) COMMENT: Deng admitted that he had not yet seen the
non-paper, but that he and Yasir Arman would be present with GOSS
President Kiir when the Foreign Minister Deng Alor briefed Kiir on
the Special Envoy's Khartoum meetings, the Abyei discussions in
particular. Deng was clearly probing for the depth of Washington's
support for the GOSS in resolving Abyei, especially given the
contrasting styles of the past and present Special Envoys.

FERNANDEZ

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