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Cablegate: The Way Forward On Unmee

VZCZCXRO7861
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHC #8446/01 1520107
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 302320Z MAY 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0482
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 7736
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 1396
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 9197
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1963
INFO UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 4997
RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 6295

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 058446

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL UNSC KPKO PBTS ET ER BE FR UK RS
SUBJECT: THE WAY FORWARD ON UNMEE

1. This is an action request. Department requests action
addressees in London, Paris, Moscow, and Brussels, to
approach host governments, as UN Security Council (UNSC)
Members, to discuss our proposed way forward on the UN
Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and a potential
follow-on UN presence relating to the common border between
Ethiopia and Eritrea. Department requests USUN to do the
same with appropriate UN Missions in New York. Drawing on
points below, Posts and USUN should emphasize that in its
current form, UNMEE can not play an effective role in the
region, while emphasizing that there is no prospect for the
operation do so in the future given the current limitations
imposed by Eritrea. Posts and USUN should also underscore
that the U.S. will continue to press for a UNSC resolution
terminating UNMEE. However, Posts and USUN should note that
we are open to establishing a follow-on UN presence in the
area if both parties agree to it, and if they demonstrate a
serious commitment to actively cooperate and engage with such
a presence. See discussion elements in paragraph 2. For an
extensive background on the crisis, see paragraph 3.

2. Posts and USUN should draw upon the elements below in
discussions with host governments or UN Missions.

Begin discussion elements.

- Express our disappointment that the UNSC has not been able
to move to a resolution terminating UNMEE. Underscore that
in its current configuration, UNMEE can no longer execute its
mandate, and for all practical purposes is inoperable in
Eritrea.

-Highlight that the UN and troop contributing countries
(TCCs) to UNMEE have been waiting for an affirmative action
by the UNSC, and that in the face of abusive acts by Eritrea
on UNMEE personnel, and the negative precedent Eritrea,s
actions could have on other peacekeeping operations and
countries, willingness to contribute to UN Missions in the
future, it is irresponsible of the UNSC not to take quick
action on UNMEE.

-Emphasize that we will continue to press for a resolution
terminating UNMEE. Note that we are open to the idea of a
follow-on UN presence, including a presence that would be
only in the territory of one party, if it can legitimately
serve a purpose and successfully execute the elements laid
out in its mandate, and if the party/parties agree to fully
cooperate and engage with a new UN presence.

-Stress that the UNSC should also request the Secretary
General to consult with Ethiopia and Eritrea on how the UN
could most effectively support normalizing relations,
facilitate implementation of agreements they have entered
into (specifically the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and
the Algiers Agreements), and what UN presence, if any, they
would accept on their territory. The UNSC should also be
actively engaging in discussions on a potential follow-on
presence, particularly consideration of a realistic
configuration and mandate.

-Stress that the UNSC must acknowledge that there can be no
follow-on mission if the parties do not agree to fully
cooperate with it. Highlight that even if a follow-on
presence is not immediately established after the termination
of UNMEE, the option to create a UN presence in the future is
still a possibility if the parties agree to it.

-Emphasize that we do not believe that ending UNMEE would
automatically terminate the Algiers Agreements, but that we
understand the parties may point to UNMEE,s termination to
justify claims that they are entitled to renounce their
obligations under the Algiers Agreements. Note that we will
continue to urge them to respect their commitments in the
Algiers Agreements, and will urge the UNSC to continue to do
so as well.

End discussion elements.

3. Background

UNMEE is a Chapter VI peacekeeping operation first
established to monitor compliance with and facilitate

STATE 00058446 002 OF 002


implementation of the Agreement on the Cessation of
Hostilities of June 2000, an accord between Ethiopia and
Eritrea that ended the 1998-2000 war. This agreement was
followed in December 2000 by the Algiers Agreement, in which
the parties agreed to several steps to resolve issues that
divide them, including the boundary dispute. The Agreement
created a demilitarized zone in Eritrea close to its border
with Ethiopia, commonly referred to as the Temporary Security
Zone (TSZ)--most of UNMEE,s troops have been located there.
The accord also established the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary
Commission (EEBC) to delimit and demarcate the boundary. The
EEBC issued a delimitation decision on April 13, 2002, but
was unable to demarcate the boundary due to lack of
cooperation by the parties. Eritrea subsequently
re-militarized the TSZ, and for over two years Eritrean
restrictions on UNMEE troops have hampered their movements
and UNMEE,s ability to execute its mandate.

Beginning in November 2007, Eritrea started refusing UNMEE
permission to purchase or import fuel. The critical fuel
crisis forced Secretary General Ban to begin &temporary
relocation8 of UNMEE from Eritrea in early February 2008.
Eritrea subsequently complicated its efforts to temporarily
relocate to Ethiopia (as originally planned), demanding that
UNMEE personnel and equipment depart through the capital city
of Asmara or through the port cities of Assab and Massawa,
the same points where UNMEE entered the country. Eritrea
appeared to be holding UNMEE troops and equipment hostage in
an attempt to force the UNSC to pressure Ethiopia to accept
the demarcation decision by map coordinates made by the EEBC
in November 2006, and made effective by its terms in November
2007 (Ethiopia has rejected the EEBC,s approach as
inconsistent with international law. Eritrea has accepted
it).

Eritrea eventually allowed contractors to provide fuel
shipments to the Mission, and at present, most UNMEE
equipment and personnel have been withdrawn from Eritrean
territory, with only a small civilian staff and rear guard
remaining. India, one of the largest troop-contributing
countries (TCCs), has spoken out against the treatment of its
forces, who are waiting in capital for further direction from
the UN. The UN claims it is waiting to for direction from
the UNSC before it takes further action.

Since temporary relocation began, Belgium, which has &the
pen8 on UNMEE, has worked closely with the U.S., sharing
multiple draft Presidential Statements (PRSTs) and
resolutions on the situation concerning Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Despite U.S. urging, the UNSC never took strong action
against Eritrea for its treatment of UNMEE. On April 30,
2008, the UNSC did finally issue a PRST, noting that &the
continuation of Eritrea,s obstructions towards UNMEE has
reached a level so as to undermine the basis of the Mission's
mandate and compelled UNMEE to temporarily relocate.8 On
May 8, 2008 during UNSC UNMEE consultations, Belgium
circulated a non-paper on the way ahead and next steps on the
conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

UNMEE,s mandate will expire on July 31. The UNSC has yet to
move towards a resolution. Belgium, France, Russia, the UK,
and the U.S. are currently in expert-level consultations on a
draft UNSC resolution on a way forward for UNMEE. This same
group is also negotiating the text of a letter from the
President of the UNSC to President Isaias of Eritrea and
Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia. The letter outlines a
potential UN follow-on presence, including military observers
(MILOBs) on the Ethiopian side of the border and liaison
offices in Addis Ababa and Asmara.
RICE

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