Cablegate: Codel Jackson-Lee Advocates Agricultural Technology And

DE RUEHDS #2825/01 2610612
P 180612Z SEP 07




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Codel Jackson-Lee Advocates Agricultural Technology and
Human Rights

1. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee advocated for U.S. Technology as
well as the need for Ethiopia to adopt land reform and
liberalization of the fertilizer and seed markets to help Ethiopia's
farmers enhance agricultural yields during a very cordial meeting
with Prime Minister Meles on August 31. The Congresswoman also
pressed for the right of peaceful demonstration and raised questions
on human rights issues stemming from demonstrations during the post
2005 national elections which led to the deaths of 199 and arrests
of thousands. Accompanied by Congressmen Steve Chabot and Adrian
Smith, Representative Jackson Lee also thanked the Prime Minister
for Ethiopia's contributions to peacekeeping operations in Burundi
and Liberia, its role in bringing peace to Sudan, and in stabilizing
and supporting Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.
Jackson-Lee asked for Ethiopia's continued efforts in assisting
internally displaced persons in Sudan and Sudanese refugees.

2. Prime Minister Meles remarked that Congressional legislation
(H.R. 2003) focused on Ethiopia was an unfair criticism of
Ethiopia's efforts to promote democracy. He reviewed the tough
negotiations with the opposition party after the 2005 elections and
the refusal of the leadership to take their seats in parliament and
Addis Ababa City Hall. Meles noted the pardon the government
granted to 71 former leaders of the opposition party and
journalists, underscoring that the former detainees were given due
process for their roles in the post election violent demonstrations.
Meles added that the government is making significant progress on
the process of democratization, and human rights are being
addressed. On Agriculture, the Prime Minister said more work needs
to be done to enhance yields and to become more self sufficient.
Privitization, however, is difficult, but he noted that growth is
averaging a remarkable 10 percent per annum. End Summary.

Regional Stability:

3. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, accompanied by Congressmen
Steve Chabot and Adrian Smith, as well as Major Thomas (escort
officer), Ms. Brown (Foreign Affairs Committee Staff), Ambassador
(note taker), and PolOff (control officer), met with Prime Minister
Meles, Director General of American and European Affairs of the
Foreign Ministry Tesfai, and Chief of Staff Gebretensai on August
31. Representative Jackson Lee thanked the Prime Minister for
Ethiopia's commitment to peacekeeping operations in Africa. Its
troops, she noted, contributed to stability in Burundi and Liberia
and she appreciated Ethiopia's commitment to provide troops for the
hybrid operations in Sudan and Somalia. Jackson-Lee did call on the
Prime Minister to make every effort to support Sudan efforts. The
Congresswoman expressed support for Ethiopia's efforts to stabilize
Somalia and support the Transitional Federal Government. As a
member of the Homeland Security Committee, the Congresswoman also
praised Ethiopia's counter terrorism efforts and cooperation with
the U.S. in the region.

4. Prime Minister Meles thanked the U.S. for its close intel sharing
relationship and also for its commitment to support Ethiopia meet
logistical needs, such as procurement of C-130 spare parts to help
its troops meet security as well as peacekeeping requirements.
Meles also appreciated the U.S. commitment to support the
U.S.-established command and staff college will help professionalize
the Ethiopian military.

5. On Somalia, Meles said the TFG is making progress, but lamented
the slow pace of troop support for AMISOM. Ethiopian troops,
supported by Ugandan troops, continue to bear the burden for
security. Meles noted Eritrea as a threat to regional stability
and security through its arms supply to extremists in Somalia.
While noting that Ethiopia is committed to resolving the border
conflict with Eritrea, Meles argued that the Eritrea-Ethiopia
Boundary Commission which met on September 6 went beyond its
mandate. Ultimately, Meles noted, the parties must resolve their
problems and normalize relations.

6. Meles reiterated Ethiopia's commitment to Sudan. Ethiopia is
prepared to send 5,000 troops to the Hybrid AU-UN force. He agreed
with Representative Jackson-Lee to continue support for Sudan peace
efforts, critical to regional stability.

7. Representative Chabot thanked the Prime Minister for Ethiopia's
commitment to counter-terrorism efforts and the cooperation between
the two countries. Meles noted that Admiral Hart, commander of the
CJTF-HOA, visited Ethiopia recently and that through CJTF and
CENTCOM, Ethiopia was an important partner with the U.S. on the war
on terrorism. Representative Smith urged the Prime Minster to
explain any misunderstandings and the importance of cooperation, as
well as agricultural development. He also commended the Prime

ADDIS ABAB 00002825 002 OF 003

Minister for Ethiopia's efforts on peacekeeping.

Improving Ethiopia's Economy:

8. Representative Jackson Lee asked the Prime Minister about poverty
reduction efforts and questioned why Ethiopia is still at a low USD
300 per person annual income. She suggested that U.S. technology
may help per acre yields and raised the issue of land reform through
private ownership as well as liberalizing the fertilizer and seed
markets to help farmers become more productive. Meles avoided the
issue of liberalizing fertilizer and seed markets, which are
controlled by the ruling party. While he did not specifically
address U.S. technology, he has in separate discussions acknowledged
the importance of new techniques and technology to help expand
acreage yield, which remains far below productivity in other
countries. Meles explained that Ethiopia is making steady progress
with 10 percent annual growth. On privatization of land, Meles
argued that land ownership was not the reason for low productivity.
(Note: The World Bank and farmers themselves say privatization
should not be the focus). Meles explained that 85 percent of the
population are rural based with each family having an average of
only a half a hectare of land. In the low lands, farmers can have
hundreds of hectares, but based on tradition, quality of soil and
harsh climate in the low lands, farmers still remain tied to the
highlands. Meles added that even though farmers do not own their
land, the family controls the land and is passed from one generation
to the next.

9. Meles said the solution is not land sale, which could result in
creating thousands of unemployed people unable to sustain
themselves. The answer is commercialization of the small plots of
land -- from high value rose and vegetables to other types of small
non-farm commercial ventures. He stressed export led growth as an
important factor in fighting poverty. Another area for growth is
livestock. Noting USAID's important contributions to expanding the
quality of livestock as well as marketing for export, Meles
acknowledged that Ethiopia has a long way to go to develop its
livestock market, the tenth largest in the world.

Congressional Concerns over Human Rights:

10. Representative Jackson-Lee said that recent legislation proposed
by Congressman Payne (H.R. 2003) reflects the deep concerns of the
Ethiopian American community and by Members of Congress on human
rights in Ethiopia. She noted that Meles can play a role in shaping
the debate, addressing the concerns, and explaining the events of
2005. Meles replied that the 2005 national elections were
remarkable, but the post election period met with the opposition
party calling for an orange revolution to take over the government.
The EU election observer head, Anna Gomes of Portugal, said the
opposition won, but only focused on Addis Ababa, an opposition
stronghold. President Carter reported there were irregularities,
but said the ruling party won the election. Meles argued that the
government did all it could to negotiate with the opposition, many
refused to take their seats in Parliament and the Addis Ababa City
Hall, while most of the opposition parliamentarians did take up
their seats in parliament. In the end the arrest and subsequent
trial and conviction of some of the leaders was unavoidable. Meles
added that they were given due process. The pardons granted to the
final 71 opposition leaders and journalists were meant to put this
issue aside and focus on the progress being made on

11. Meles called the proposed Congressional legislation a
misunderstanding of the progress being made to promote democracy and
human rights. At one point out of frustration, Meles asked why
Congress focuses on alleged ills of Ethiopia yet Eritrea with its
continued detention of eleven ministers without due process, arrests
of families whose children do not serve in the military and arrests
of religious leaders and followers is not condemned by Congress.


12. The visit by Codel Jackson-Lee was significant because it
highlighted clearly for the Prime Minister the concerns of Congress
about Ethiopia's human rights record and, more important, the lack
of information provided by the GOE on what it is doing to address
such concerns. It also underscored for the Prime Minister that
there is no conspiracy by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. press to
raise criticism of Ethiopia. While Congress does recognize much of
the important contributions made by Ethiopia to regional peace and
stability, Ethiopia must do a better job articulating what it is
doing to advance human rights and what it is doing to correct
problems. Rep Jackson-Lee noted that it is important for Ethiopia
to create an environment to promote the ability of opposition groups

ADDIS ABAB 00002825 003 OF 003

to demonstrate peacefully without fear of arrest. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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