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Cablegate: Djibouti: Ambassador Presents Credentials, Highlights

VZCZCXRO7644
RR RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDJ #0882 3151519
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101519Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9675
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS DJIBOUTI 000882

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E
LONDON, PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA FOR POLAD

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KCOM SO ER DJ
SUBJECT: DJIBOUTI: AMBASSADOR PRESENTS CREDENTIALS, HIGHLIGHTS
PARTNERSHIP

1. SUMMARY: The Ambassador presented his credentials to President
Guelleh on November 10. In their formal remarks and informal
post-ceremony conversation, both President Guelleh and the
Ambassador evoked the strong U.S.-Djibouti partnership, especially
noting USAID's successful programs in health and education, and
Djibouti's hosting of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa
(CJTF-HOA). The Ambassador and President Guelleh also underscored
common U.S. and Djibouti interests in combating piracy, advancing
the Somalia peace process, and pressing for a peaceful solution to
the Djibouti-Eritrea border standoff. END SUMMARY.

2. The brief presentation ceremony featured short formal remarks
followed by a relaxed conversation. Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mahamoud Ali Youssouf attended, and there was full local press
coverage. In his remarks, the Ambassador saluted Djibouti's
positive contributions to regional peace and stability, and
highlighted both the USG's recent additional food aid contributions
in response to Djibouti's growing food insecurity, and USAID's
ongoing successful programs in health, education, and democracy and
good governance. The Ambassador also thanked Djibouti for hosting
CJTF-HOA, and reemphasized the U.S. commitment to finding a peaceful
solution for the Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute.

3. President Guelleh responded in formal remarks welcoming the
Ambassador to Djibouti, and thanking the U.S. for its active
cooperation in Djibouti's fight against poverty. He especially
noted USAID's work in improving rural health clinics. On the border
dispute, Guelleh contrasted Djibouti's commitment to regional peace
and stability with Eritrea's "destabilizing" role in the region.

4. During a friendly, informal post-ceremony conversation, Guelleh
congratulated the Ambassador on the recent U.S. presidential
elections. Guelleh said that while he was disappointed that he
himself had been out of the country at the time, he was glad that
President-Elect Barack Obama had visited Djibouti briefly in 2007
and had met with Prime Minister Deleita Mohamed Deleita. On
Somalia, Guelleh mentioned his participation in the recent IGAD
summit in Nairobi, and especially urged the importance of funding
for the proposed 10,000-strong Somali force to allow for AMISOM and
Ethiopian withdrawal. While expressing concern with the continued
rash of piracy off the coast of Somalia, Guelleh seemed reasonably
pleased with the European Union's recent anti-piracy efforts. The
Ambassador noted continued U.S. support for a UN PKO for Somalia to
improve security and stability in the country.

5. On the Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute, Guelleh reiterated
Djibouti's commitment to finding a peaceful solution. As he noted
growing "pressure" both from the Djiboutian population and from the
strain of keeping Djiboutian troops near the border, Guelleh mildly
criticized the U.N. Security Council for "escaping decisions" and
noted some countries' unwillingness to impose sanctions, despite
Eritrea's continued "defiance" of the international community. The
Ambassador concurred that Eritrea remains a spoiler in the region
and noted USG leadership in the Council to press for a more robust
response. On the economic front, Guelleh said he hoped that
CJTF-HOA's presence at Camp Lemonier and the upcoming construction
of the new U.S. Embassy complex would continue to offer
opportunities to Djiboutian businesses.

SWAN

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