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Cablegate: Ethiopia: Africom Commander Meeting with Prime Minister

VZCZCXRO4787
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #3300 3171424
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131424Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8525
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 003300

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF AND AF/E
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA AND USCENTCOM FOR POLAD
EUCOM PASS FOR AFRICOM

E.O. 12958
TAGS: PGOV PINS PREL MOPS PBTS KPKO ET ER
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: AFRICOM COMMANDER MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER

Summary
-------
1. (SBU) In a brief November 8 meeting, Ethiopian Prime Minister
Meles told AFRICOM Commander General Ward that he appreciated the
establishment of AFRICOM and looked forward to working closely with
the new command. General Ward noted Ethiopia's regional role,
especially in Somalia, and welcomed the Prime Minister's statement
that Ethiopia would not renew conflict with Eritrea over the border.
Meles also appreciated the General's assurance of a seamless
transition from CENTCOM to AFRICOM. We anticipate that Ethiopia
will remain a reliable partner as we move forward through this
transition. End Summary.

Participants
------------
2. (SBU) General Ward was accompanied to the meeting with the Prime
Minister by Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, Deputy Chief of Mission
Deborah Malac, COL Dyfierd Harris, CDR Mark Swayne and Major Tom
Shane (U.S. Embassy DAO).

Strong Support for AFRICOM
--------------------------
3. (SBU) Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles told visiting AFRICOM
Commander General Ward on November 8 that Ethiopia welcomed the
establishment of AFRICOM, noting it underscored U.S. commitment to
the African continent. AFRICOM is an indication that the U.S. would
be more involved in addressing African issues and resolving the
previously confused U.S. command structure that split the continent
between three different commands. With a single command, AFRICOM
can integrate U.S. engagement across the continent.

4. (SBU) Meles noted that in earlier conversations he had raised
his concern that the transition to AFRICOM might jeopardize the
close relationship that Ethiopia has enjoyed with CENTCOM. He hoped
that Ethiopia would be able to develop a similar relationship with
AFRICOM. General Ward stressed that the transition would be
seamless and smooth and that both commands would have frequent and
strong interaction. General Ward also assured the Prime Minister
that AFRICOM would continue to work closely with Ethiopia.

Ethiopia's Regional Role
------------------------
5. (SBU) General Ward briefly reviewed Ethiopia's regional role and
expressed his appreciation for Ethiopia's efforts to stabilize
Somalia and strengthen President Yusuf's Transitional Federal
Government. He noted the sacrifices made by Ethiopian troops in
Somalia and their role in providing force protection for AMISOM
operations. General Ward also offered condolences for all fallen
Ethiopian soldiers. On Sudan, where Prime Minister Meles and his
Foreign Minister are taking an active role in mediating between
President Bashir and the Government of Southern Sudan, the General
expressed his support for Ethiopia's efforts.

Ethiopia-Eritrea Border
-----------------------
6. (SBU) The General thanked the Prime Minister for the restraint
he had demonstrated regarding the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, noting
Meles' recent comments that Ethiopian forces would not initiate
renewed conflict with Eritrea. General Ward stressed that the U.S.
and the international community urged both parties to do all they
can to avert conflict and to reduce tensions. The Prime Minister
reiterated Ethiopia's position and said the possibility of war was
minimal despite recent press reports and Eritrean statements to the
contrary.

Comment
-------
7. (SBU) Prime Minister Meles views AFRICOM as an important
commitment by the U.S. to address the challenges facing Africa. He
seemed reassured by General Ward's pledge to ensure a seamless
transition for Ethiopia from CENTCOM to AFRICOM responsibility. We
anticipate that Ethiopia will remain a reliable partner as we move
forward through this transition.

YAMAMOTO

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