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Cablegate: Ambassador Discusses Nec with Foreign

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

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000293

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
E.O. 129958: N/A
TAGS: ABLD MZ NEC
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES NEC WITH FOREIGN
MINISTER

REF: 03 MAPUTO 1746

1. (SBU) Summary. Despite the confusion and
potential loss of the Four Seasons site as a potential
NEC, Post received assurances from the Foreign Minister
that this was a top priority for the MFA. Post
expressed its continuing interest in part of the Four
Seasons site, or potentially FACIM, and reiterated that
time is running out. Post awaits the findings of a
newly-created working group on this issue. End
summary.

2. (SBU) The Ambassador, A/MgmtOff, and Post attorney
Sam Levy met with Foreign Minister Simao and MFA desk
officer Eduardo Mutorropa on March 3 regarding ongoing
efforts to obtain a suitable NEC site. (In a February
27 meeting, Tourism Minister Sumbana, whose Ministry
controls the site, told post that the Four Seasons site
was not available as it had been sold last year to a
concessionaire formed by SOTUR and IMOBCI. Post
believes final legal arrangements are progressing
though not yet complete; however, Tourism apparently is
sticking with its decision to sell to the
concessionaire.) The Ambassador expressed deep concern
to Simao about the apparent loss of the Four Seasons
site for the NEC. She urged the GRM to reconsider its
pending deal with SOTUR and instead push for the land
to be partitioned, giving the USG four hectares and
leaving the other two for other suitable commercial
development. We reiterated that this and other likely
delays could result in the project being cancelled, and
requested that the MFA be an advocate on behalf of Post
needs and the sole interlocutor within the GRM.

3. (SBU) The Foreign Minister explained that when he
had been looking at property for the new convention
center he was told the Four Seasons site was available.
He was unaware at the previous meeting with Post
(reftel) that the site had been "sold". Upon receiving
a report about Post's meeting from the Ministry of
Tourism, he had created a working group to determine
the best course of action. That working group, under
the direction of MFA, was holding its first meeting
concurrently. Simao reported that he would make this
issue a "high priority" and that he had a "vested
interested in seeing that the U.S. gets that property."
Above the Ministerial level, he said there were two
more levels of appeal -- the Prime Minister and the
President.

4. (SBU) Noting the need for and the cost of
demolition, Simao said SOTUR would have a hard time
financing their project. (Note: SOTUR's plans as shown
to Post last year involve rehabilitating the existing
24-story structure.) Though the GRM working group is
searching for a solution that be "win/win" in which
both the USG and SOTUR could get access the site, Simao
suggested that Post might eventually be asked to
consider negotiating directly with SOTUR. Mutorropa
commented that the agreement SOTUR has with the GRM
would only permit tourist development, which would make
it difficult for SOTUR to negotiate with us on the
property without obtaining additional time-consuming
paper work and waivers from the government. Based on
recent contact Post attorney has had with SOTUR, we are
not convinced they would in fact be interested in
negotiating with the USG. Simao said that the site
seemed cursed, as five previous attempts to develop it
had all fallen through.

5. (SBU) As a second option, the Ambassador raised the
possibility of securing a portion of FACIM for the NEC.
Despite an initial response that FACIM was "not
possible," Simao later conceded he would look at the
possibility of relocating the trade exhibition site
elsewhere, providing four hectares for the USG, and
using the remainder for the planned "Ministry row."

6. (SBU) Simao, aware of the urgency of the issue,
promised to get back to us "soon." Post will follow up
with the Foreign Minister over the course of the next
two weeks, during which we recommend not pursuing new
sites with the GRM.
LA LIME

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