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Cablegate: Fomin: Burundi Trying to Revive Regional Economic

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHJB #0298 1571511
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051511Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0992
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BUJUMBURA 000298

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/C

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON PGOV PINR PREL BY
SUBJECT: FOMIN: BURUNDI TRYING TO REVIVE REGIONAL ECONOMIC
FORUM

REF: BUJUMBURA 277

1. (SBU) Summary: In a June 4 meeting with the Ambassador
and Director of Central African Affairs Karl Wycoff,
Burundian Minister of External Relations Antoinette
Batumbwira:
- requested that the U.S. help persuade the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) to return to active participation
in the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries
(CEPGL);
- expressed her gratitude of continued U.S. support as
Burundi enters an era of peace; and
- agreed that Tripartite initiatives remain crucial to
regional stability. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) In a brief meeting June 4 with the Ambassador and
Director of Central African Affairs Karl Wycoff, Burundian
Minister of External Relations Antoinette Batumbwira
requested that the U.S. help persuade the DRC to once again
become an active participant in the CEPGL. The CEPGL, she
explained, is a regional initiative established in the early
1990's to foster economic cooperation and development among
the DRC, Rwanda and Burundi. After nearly a decade of
inactivity due to regional conflict, Burundi and Rwanda have
taken steps to revive the CEPGL, but to succeed the forum
needs the DRC to commit to the program. Citing the good
relations the USG enjoys with the DRC, Batumbwira said she
hoped that the U.S. can convince the Congolese to rejoin the
CEPGL and help implement programs to promote regional
economic stability.

3. (SBU) At its inception, Batumbwira continued, the CEPGL
trilateral initiative was an active forum, benefitting the
three nations through cooperative projects and the free
movement of people and goods across their borders. Noting
Burundi's recent accession into the East African Economic
Community, Batumbwira said that the CEPGL can become a bridge
between the regional initiatives of east Africa and the
developing markets of central Africa. In particular,
Batumbwira stated, enormous benefits can be reaped in the
lucrative coffee and tea sectors through the cooperation of
the three Great Lakes nations and its neighbors Kenya, Uganda
and Tanzania. Without elaborating, she advocated developing
cross-border projects which can stimulate economic growth
within the region but said that significant progress cannot
be realized without the cooperation of the DRC.

------------------------------
FNL -- still a negative force?
------------------------------

4. (SBU) Referring to the May 26 cessation of hostilities
agreement between the GOB and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL (FNL),
Batumbwira thanked the U.S. for its continued support of
Burundi during this "time of hope." (reftel) While also
thanking the U.S. for its facilitation role in the Tripartite
Plus regional initiative, the Minister said she hoped that
the FNL will no longer be considered a "negative force" in
the region due to its recent agreement to end hostilities and
to implement the cease-fire agreement with the GOB. She did,
however, agree with Director Wycoff that the Tripartite Plus
mechanism is still necessary for building regional
cooperation and promoting information sharing.

5. (U) Director Wycoff has cleared this cable.
MOLLER

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