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Cablegate: Ambassador Visits Aden

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 000491

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL PGOV YM
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR VISITS ADEN


1. (U) Summary: Ambassador visited Aden, the financial
capital of Yemen, March 9 to 10 to check on several U.S.
government sponsored projects and to carry the public
diplomacy message that, Yemeni interests are well served by a
strong relationship with the U.S. regardless of Iraq. Locally
based media were with the Ambassador at each stop and
provided wide and positive coverage to the visit. Many Yemeni
media and other contacts have commented to us favorably this
week on the fact that the U.S. Embassy has not drawn down its
staff and remains positively, and publicly, engaged in
promoting development and bilateral cooperation.

2. (U) Visit with the Governor of Aden: On his arrival on
the morning of Sunday, March 9, the Ambassador drove directly
from the airport to the Governor,s office to begin his very
busy day of visits. In a half-hour conversation, the two
covered a variety of topics, including economic and social
development, security at the Port of Aden, the U.S. assisted
development of the Yemeni Coast Guard, the upcoming
parliamentary elections in April and the participation of
women in the process and other issues. The Governor thanked
the Ambassador for the U.S. interest in and assistance to
Aden.

3. (U) Opening of the Computer Center at the Yemen
Women,s Association: The Ambassador then moved on to the
Aden center of the Yemen Women,s Association to officially
open their new computer center which was financed with a
grant from the Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Embassy.
The computer center now has ten state-of-the-art computers
with networking capability and has become a busy place
training women in computer skills. Embassy Sanaa,s
Information Resource Director Helmi Noman provided technical
help in helping set up the computer center as well as trained
the staff as trainers. The Ambassador was briefed on the work
of the Association and visited the organization,s three-year
pre-school facility for the children of working mothers. The
children entertained the Ambassador and his entourage with
recitations and songs.

4. (U) Visit to the School Desk Factory: The Ambassadorial
motorcade then moved on to the &General Establishment for
Furniture and School Equipment,8 where 150 thousand school
desks are being manufactured for schools all over Yemen
financed through 416(b) funds ($5.4m). Each desk bears the
Embassy,s &Gamariyya8 (traditional Yemeni motif
incorporating the American flag) that has become a highly
visible symbol of U.S.-Yemeni development cooperation.
Director Fadhel Saleh Al-Hilali led a tour of the factory to
show the various stages of the production. The Ambassador
walked by the desks at various states of completion sometimes
piled as high as the ceiling. The next day, newspapers
carried photographs of the Ambassador standing next to those
mountains of desks as well as trucks laden with the desks
destined for various regions of the country.

5. (U) Visit to &Al-Ayyam8 Newspaper: The Ambassador
then visited the editorial offices of the largest selling
newspaper in the country, the privately-owned independent
&Al-Ayyam8 to meet with the publisher and the
Editor-in-Chief and to give a wide-ranging interview. The
interview, which was published in full in the Tuesday, March
11 issue of the newspaper, covered topics under security and
development in Yemen, as well as the Iraq and Palestine.
Following the meeting, the Ambassador and his entourage were
hosted for lunch by the publisher and owner of the newspaper,
Hisham Bashraheel. (Complete translated text of the
Ambassador,s interview sent septel).

6. (U) Visit to the &College of Light8 School for the
Blind: The Ambassador,s last visit for the day was to the
&College of Light8 School for the Blind which was renovated
and equipped with a grant of more than $130 thousand from
416(b) funds. The Ambassador received a briefing on the work
of the School and visited some classrooms where he chatted
with students.

7. (U) Reception: In the evening, the Ambassador hosted a
reception for Mission contacts in Aden at the Sheraton Gold
Mohur Hotel located at the center of the picturesque Elephant
Bay. More than 65 people, representing government, business,
NGOs, the Yemeni Coast Guard, the foreign consular corps and
the media were present at the gathering. The Governor of
Aden, Taha Ahmed Ghanem, came with his entourage and stayed
for a long time, conversing with the Ambassador and others.

8. (U) Visit to the Coast Guard Facilities: On Monday,
March 10, the Ambassador visited the sites of the Coast Guard
operations and training bases. Captain Robert Innes, the
U.S. maritime advisor to the ROYG, guided the tour. First,
from the watchtower hill in the city, the Ambassador got a
panoramic view of the proposed operations base. Later, he
visited the proposed operations base and then took a long
tour of the training base which is located some distance from
the former.

9. (U) Visit to the Aden Community College: The
Ambassador,s last visit was to the Aden Community College, a
three-year American-style vocational-technical school which
was established about three years ago and is scheduled to
produce its first graduates this May. The College is trying
to maintain a flexible profile in providing graduates with
practical skills which are needed in the actual job market.
The Public Diplomacy Section of the Embassy has been
assisting the College by providing books and providing
computer training. PD Sanaa has also requested an English
Teaching Fellow for the College. The College administration
hosted a lunch for the Ambassadorial group following the
briefing.

10. (U) Comment: One of the main purposes of the trip was
to promote the public diplomacy aims of creating a positive
image for the Mission in Aden in particular and in Yemen in
general during a tense period in the region. The media
coverage of the visit was wide and very positive. The most
prominent Aden daily, &Al-Ayyam8 reported that they sold
additional copies during the first day of coverage and some
key selling points sold out copies of the newspaper the day
the Ambassador,s interview appeared. During the
well-attended reception at the end of the first day both
American officers and FSNs were told by many local attendees
that while other foreign missions were leaving Yemen, it was
refreshing and reassuring that the U.S. Mission was not only
staying on, but remained actively and publicly engaged in
prmoting development programs and bilateral cooperation.
HULL

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