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Cablegate: Djibouti-Eritrea: Unsc Wants Good Offices Mission

VZCZCXRO5237
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUCNDT #0827/01 2612307
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 172307Z SEP 08
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4947
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 000827

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PBTS UNSC DJ ER
SUBJECT: DJIBOUTI-ERITREA: UNSC WANTS GOOD OFFICES MISSION

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: UNSC members backed the Secretary-General's
proposal to renew his offer of a good offices mission in
order to encourage a negotiated solution to the
Djibouti-Eritrea border impasse. Many members joined the
U.S. in criticizing Eritrean actions but all agreed on the
need for dialogue and continued Security Council engagement.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) Africa I
Division chief Joao Honwana told the Security Council on
September 17 that the UN's fact finding mission to
investigate border clashes between Djibouti and Eritrea was
hampered by Eritrea's refusal to cooperate with the
investigation or grant visas to the UN mission. In contrast,
Honwana praised Djiboutian authorities for facilitating a
site visit to the border region and granting meetings with a
wide range of officials, including the president and prime
minister.

3. (SBU) Despite Eritrea's obstruction, Honwana said the
mission was able to make a number of key judgments. He
confirmed that Djiboutian forces had complied with the
Council's call, issued in a 12 June PRST, to withdraw its
forces to their pre-conflict positions, while Eritrean forces
had not. Honwana also reported high expectations in the
region, and particularly in Djibouti, that the UN would take
an active role in seeking a peaceful solution to the dispute.
He concluded by recommending that the SC use "all means at
its disposal" to persuade Eritrea to withdraw its forces and
reiterating the recommendation that the Secretary-General
renew his offer of a good offices mission to help defuse
tension and initiate dialogue between the two sides.

SC members criticize "unacceptable" Eritrean behavior
--------------------------------------------- --------

4. (SBU) France spoke first, criticizing recent Eritrean
statements on the border dispute as showing "no sign of
open-mindedness" and reaffirming France's intention to work
through bilateral security agreements to maintain Djibouti's
defensive capabilities. France agreed with the proposal to
pursue a good offices mission and advocated taking advantage
of the Eritrean foreign minister's attendance at the UNGA to
begin these efforts. Amb. DiCarlo spoke for the U.S.,
praising Djibouti's restraint and cooperation in response to
the current crisis, regretting Eritrea's failure to engage
and supporting the SYG's proposal for a good offices mission.
The UK welcomed a good offices mission as well, stating that
"Eritrea's behavior is unacceptable." Russia said it
supported high-level international mediation in the conflict,
and called on both parties, "particularly Eritrea," to
withdraw forces and negotiate.

5. (SBU) South Africa regretted Eritrea's failure to
cooperate and gave their support to a high-level political
intervention, including a good offices mission by the SYG.
Croatia criticized Eritrea's lack of cooperation and backed a
good offices mission. Vietnam regretted Eritrea's refusal to
engage and said that conflict resolution was impossible if
the parties involved did not show goodwill. Costa Rica
supported the idea of a good offices mission and accused
Eritrea of "defying" the international community. Should
Eritrean obstinacy continue, Costa Rica said that the Council
should consider further measures, such as referring the
dispute to the International Court of Justice or inviting the
Eritrean PermRep to an informal SC meeting in order to
explain Eritrea's defiance. Panama said it was necessary to
protect Djibouti, "the threatened party," and asked the EU,
as the only international actor to have successfully engaged
Asmara on this issue, to brief the Council on the outcome of
its talks with Eritrea.

6. (SBU) China did not single out Eritrea for criticism, but
proposed "enhanced communication" between the SC and the
parties and urged both Eritrea and Djibouti to settle their
differences through negotiation.

Libya, Italy, others link conflict to Ethiopia-Eritrea
--------------------------------------------- ---------

7. (SBU) Libya regretted Eritrea's refusal to cooperate but
said it considered the dispute with Djibouti a result of the
SC's "procrastination" in dealing with the Ethiopia-Eritrea
dispute. Italy likewise said that the Ethiopia-Eritrea
dispute was the "main source of instability" in the region
and that an integrated, consistent approach -- including
demarcation of disputed borders -- was necessary in order to
resolve outstanding issues. Italy supported a good offices
mission and engagement during UNGA, and offered to put its
historical and technical knowledge of regional conflicts at
the Council's disposal. Belgium praised Djibouti for its

USUN NEW Y 00000827 002 OF 002


restraint and regretted Eritrea's obstruction, but said that
in their view resolution of the Djibouti-Eritrea dispute
would likely be contingent on resolution of Eritrea's dispute
with Ethiopia. Indonesia said that the Security Council
needed to "address the underlying issue" of the
Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute. Indonesia also urged the Council
to consider referring the Ethiopia-Djibouti dispute to
arbitration, claiming that Eritrea had respected the results
of previous arbitration decision vis-a-vis Yemen and
Ethiopia.

Khalilzad

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