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Cablegate: Darfur Peace Process Update - Bassole and Goq Appear More

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OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHKUK RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1607/01 3071437
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021437Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2217
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001607

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR PEACE PROCESS UPDATE - BASSOLE AND GOQ APPEAR MORE
IN SYNC

REF: KHARTOUM 1597

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole urged Qatar to
focus first on the necessary preparations for negotiations and not
on unrealistic dates for negotiations, according to senior
representatives from the AU/UN's Joint Mediation Support Team
(JMST). JMST contacts emphasized that the focus of the UN/AU-led
peace process should not be another large "Sirte-style" meeting, but
shuttle diplomacy between the GoS and the rebel movements. Qatar
appears receptive to building this foundation for talks (and
delaying large negotiations,) while Libya is irritated that Qatar
has taken on the Darfur Peace process. END SUMMARY.

JMST: MEETINGS IN QATAR WERE POSITIVE...
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) On November 2, the Chief Mediator's Special Assistant,
Laura Sitea, (currently in Tripoli with Bassole) told polchief that
Bassole's meetings in Qatar were overall very positive. Ahmed bin
Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, the GoQ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs,
was particularly helpful and seemed more realistic now about what is
possible. Mahmoud and other GoQ interlocutors avoided discussing
linkages with Article 16, and said they want to avoid making "the
mistakes of the past." (e.g. accepting participant lists drafted by
the GoS similar to what happened in Sirte.)

3. (SBU) Sitea reported that no dates have been set for the Doha
talks, and that the Qataris originally wanted to open their Darfur
initiative`itl a lirge!etent n5st nevorm!TldQUN gevedipmenr{umaitQhQ$ghQ(o~2?%!dg#0$#)gewJQEb xC{qs(fsfQQQthis issue, Sitea said
that Sudanese Intelligence Chief Salah Gosh recently telephoned
Bassole to offer a cease-fire (as discussed with CDA - reftel) to
which the Chief Mediator replied that it should be linked to an
agreed framework for the talks. Sitea stated that despite this
offer, the NCP has still not provided any input on Bassole's
framework, nor submitted any proposals other than what will come out
of the Sudan People's Initiative.

. . . BUT THE FOCUS SHOULD NOT BE ON BIG MEETINGS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
4. (SBU) JMST Chief of Staff Yassir Sabra separately told poloff
on November 2 that Bassole's Qatar trip was very positive, and
emphasized that the JMST's focus should not be on large
negotiations. Acccording to Sabra, the Government of Qatar (GoQ)
"seems to understand that Bassole should be in charge of the
process," and that the Chief Mediator told GoQ officials that
November would be premature for talks. "Now Sudan and Qatar are
saying that December might be better, but we think even that might
be too early," stated Sabra. Sabra said that the peace process
should not fixate on dates for another large meeting, but should
concentrate on completing the necessary preparation for
negotiations. "Progress should not be measured in holding big
meetings," said Sabra. Sabra added that the Chief Mediator will
spend the next few weeks shuttling between rebel leadership and the
GoS, as neither is currently ready for talks.

5. (SBU) Sabra noted that the GoQ appears too anxious and drawn to
the "limelight." The latter is not a problem, according to Sabra,
as Chief Mediator Bassole "does not mind driving the process from
behind the scenes." The former, i.e. Qatar's hastiness, may be
detrimental because "there is no peace process, and we have to
create everything from scratch."

SCHEDULES OF TRAVEL AND MEETINGS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) Sabra said that Bassole will return to Khartoum on
November 5, having traveled to Qatar, Libya, and France all within
one week. In Paris, Bassole will meet Abdul Wahid Al-Nur. (Qatari
Foreign Minister will follow Bassole to Paris next week to meet
Al-Nur.) Upon his return to Sudan, Bassole will meet with GoS
officials before undertaking further shuttle diplomacy with rebel
leadership. Bassole may also meet a high-ranking Eritrean
delegation scheduled to visit Khartoum the week of November 2.
Sitea also reported that a delegation of GoQ officials will give a
presentation to the Qatari Initiative ministerial meeting in Cairo
on November 10.

LIBYA, CHAD, AND WESTERN INVOLVEMENT
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

KHARTOUM 00001607 002 OF 002


7. (SBU) While the talks with Qatar were generally constructive,
meetings with the Libyans were less so, reported Sitea. The Chief
mediator met the Secretary of African Affairs at the Libyan Foreign
Ministry, Ali Treki, on November 1 in a marathon 4-hour meeting.
According to Sitea, the Libyans appeared irritated that Qatar has
now taken over the Darfur peace process. Sitea also reported that
the Chad-Sudan exchange of ambassadors was derailed late on November
1, as Chad suddenly pulled out. Sitea said that the Qataris told
Bassole that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown would be in Doha on
November 2 to discuss (among other topics) Darfur. She also
repeated that the Qataris claimed that the French have indicated
that FM Kouchner would attend the Doha Darfur negotiations, which
she noted would be useful as it would put pressure on the French to
"deliver" Abdul Wahid.

COMMENT
- - - -
8. (SBU) If these staffers' accounts are accurate, Bassole's visit
to Qatar was a success and it appears as though the GoQ and Chief
mediator may now be more in sync. How the GoS will respond to this
more cautious and deliberate approach remains to be seen. If the
GoS urgently wants a new round of negotiations, it should offer a
Darfur plan of their own to Bassole (not just the Sudan People's
Initiative,) agree on the Chief Mediator's framework for Qatar, and
meet with key rebels before the Doha talks. Without this, it will
be very difficult to persuade the rebels to attend. This should be
our message to the Qataris and the GoS. Pressing the NCP to deliver
more than just words will require a coordinated approach, with
pressure from the U.S., Chief Mediator, Qataris, and the
international community as a whole.

FERNANDEZ

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