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Cablegate: Confirmed Difficulties with the Diplomatic Pouch

VZCZCXYZ0009
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #2649 3131459
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091459Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5179

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 002649

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

FOR AF/EX, DS COURIER SERVICE, AND DS/IP/AF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PREL ADPM OFDP SU US
SUBJECT: CONFIRMED DIFFICULTIES WITH THE DIPLOMATIC POUCH

REFS: A. Khartoum 02417, B. Khartoum 02455

1. (SBU) Background: In late September, the Sudanese Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (MFA) did not grant, as requested by post,
appropriate paperwork to allow Post personnel to meet an airQft
carrying a classified pouch. Compounding our problems, Air Egypt
received instructions to forbid the USG courier from de-planing.
However, Post was able to receive (but not send) the monthly pouch
on September 28 despite the GOS attempt to prevent delivery (Note:
The incident is described fully in reftels. End note.) As a result
of the GOS failure to sign the required paperwork on a timely basis,
Post established a policy of canceling pouch runs if the paperwork
is not in hand at least 48 hours prior to the run. It was
determined that this period is needed in order to safely cancel a
pouch run.

2. (SBU) Second Attempt: For the late October pouch delivery, Post
requested that MFA sign the required paperwork to allow airport
access. Once again, the paperwork was not forthcoming in a timely
fashion; however, owing to a general slowdown of work activity due
to Ramadan, and early closure of the MFA for the Eid al Fitr
holidays, it was impossible to determine conclusively that our pouch
was actually refused admittance, or whether we had fallen victim to
seasonal inefficiencies.

3. (SBU) Current Situation: On November 5, Post again submitted
paperwork to the MFA for airport clearance to meet the pouch, which
was due to arrive on November 9. Once again, the documents remained
unsigned at the MFA as of the COB on November 9, the day the pouch
was to arrive. On November 9, Charge Powers and Pol/Econ Chief
raised the issue with MFA Under Secretary Mutriff Siddiq, who was
surprised to hear of the matter. Mutriff directed Deputy Director
for the Americas Abdel Rahman Sharfi to follow-up and resolve the
matter. Sharfi promised to report back to the Embassy early next
week.

4. (SBU) In Ref A, Post requested approval of language for a
diplomatic note to be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That
request is still open. Post recommends coordination with the
Department of a high-level response to this situation if a solution
is not agreed upon with the MFA by November 16.

5. (SBU) Summary: Post has been denied a classified pouch exchange
on three occasions over the past two months. There is a growing
backlog of inbound and outbound pouch traffic that needs to be
cleared. But more importantly, the regular transmission of
diplomatic information needs to be re-established and maintained
consistently in conformance with Article 27 of the Vienna Convention
on Diplomatic Relations. Post believes that the difficulties now
encountered with the diplomatic pouch stem from the Sudanese
Government's lingering displeasure with the annotation of visas
issued to President Bashir and his delegation when traveling from
Havana to New York for UNGA. At 5:50 p.m. on Nov 9, the MFA
contacted the Management Counselor to advise that the Ministry will
provide gate passes for the next week's pouch delivery.

POWERS

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