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Cablegate: Chinese Engineers Arrive Amidst Rebel Threats

VZCZCXYZ0020
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #1866 3321159
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281159Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9333
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001866

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF SE NATSIOS
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: CHINESE ENGINEERS ARRIVE AMIDST REBEL THREATS

1. (SBU) Soon after the arrival of 135 Chinese engineer peacekeepers
on November 24 in Nyala, media reported the Justice and Equality
Movement (JEM) rebel group threatened to attack the Chinese
engineers. According to the media, JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim
Muhhamed said, "They are not welcome...they can never come into our
area." "I am not saying I will attack them. I will not say I will
not attack them," he said.

2. (SBU) On November 27, JEM spokesmen Ahmed Hussein Adam, told
media that despite his peoples rejection of the Chinese troops, his
movement would not attack them. "In spite of the fact that Darfur
people do not welcome the Chinese troops who are the main ally of
Khartoum government and its principle provider of weapons, we will
not target the Chinese peacekeepers."

3. (SBU) Media reported November 28 the Chinese ambassador to
Khartoum, Li Cheng Wen saying, "Up to now there has been no
incident, but we are deeply concerned about the matter."

4. (SBU) Embassy poloff presented a copy of the November 27 State
Department press release condemning the threats against the Chinese
engineering unit to Chinese embassy political officers Shen Ang and
Yu Chunhua on November 28. When asked about possible Chinese
responses to the JEM threats, Ang said that the threats are against
all UNAMID peacekeepers of which the Chinese peacekeepers are a part
and that it was expected that UNAMID is responsible for their
protection. He added that these troops are not infantry but
engineers who are there to support the entire Darfur Peace
Agreement.

5. (SBU) On November 28, Post issued to the Khartoum press an Arabic
language translation of the Department of State press release
condemning the threat of violence against the Chinese engineering
unit.

6. (SBU) Comment: Embassy poloffs attempted to reach by phone
November 27 contacts in the JEM to express the U.S. condemnation of
the remarks. We will continue to reach out both from Khartoum and
El Fasher to pass this message. Due to the splintering of rebel
movements, it is possible that any of the factions of the JEM or the
SLA will attempt to attack the Chinese troops. They make an
inviting target given China's support of Khartoum, and UNAMID will
need to plan for their security accordingly.

FERNANDEZ

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