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Cablegate: African Ministers Dismayed by Forum Postponement

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 002449

SIPDIS


DEPARTMENT FOR AF AND EB
WHITE HOUSE PASS TO USTR
PARIS AND LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EAID XA
SUBJECT: AFRICAN MINISTERS DISMAYED BY FORUM POSTPONEMENT


1. African trade ministers participating in the September
22-23 Organization of African unity (OAU) meeting in Abuja,
Nigeria nearly unanimously told the delegation led by
Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (AUSTR) for Africa Rosa
Whitaker they wanted the United States to hold the
US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum on
October 4-5 as planned. "This event would have given African
countries an opportunity to show solidarity with the U.S. at
this difficult time," said Ethiopian Trade Minister Ayele
Kassahun.


2. The forum was postponed on September 18 at the urging of
African Ambassadors to Washington. But in a series of
bilateral meetings with the U.S. delegation on the margins of
the OAU event, trade ministers and representatives of
regional economic organizations claimed that Ambassadors
spoke without consulting their capitals. "It's a lie to say
African Countries weren,t ready to come to Washington after
September 11," ECOWAS Executive Secretary Lasana Kouyate
said. "On the contrary, Ministers told their staff not to
stop preparing for the Forum."


3. It may prove difficult to find new dates for the Forum in
the Ministers' crowded fourth quarter schedules. As Nigerian
Trade Minister Mustafa Bello put it, "We were ready to come
to the U.S. in early October, but now it may have to be late
December or January. However, African Trade Ministers
responded favorably to the notion of a U.S. - Africa Trade
Ministerial before Doha, focused on AGOA and the WTO
Andrews

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