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Cablegate: Niger: Ambassador and Foreign Minister Meeting

VZCZCXRO5870
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #0664 2581129
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151129Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5320
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0005
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0207

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000664

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, AF/PD, IO/UNP AND INL/G/TIP
PLS PASS TO USAID FOR AFR/W
ACCRA ALSO FOR USAID/WA
PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHER

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM EAID EAGR UNGA NG
SUBJECT: Niger: Ambassador and Foreign Minister Meeting

Ref: a) Niamey 661 and State 93894
b) Niamey 660 and State 95073
c) Niamey 659 and State 94939

1. (SBU) Summary: On September 14, Ambassador Allen, accompanied by
Political Officer (notetaker) met with Government of Niger (GON)
Foreign Minister (FM) Mindaoudou, in the presence of the GON
Director of the Americas, Asia and Oceania (notetaker), to deliver
three demarches related to: the United Nations Food Security Summit
(ref a), Iranian nuclear program (ref b) and Kosovo independence
(ref c). Ambassador also used the occasion to reiterate USG
concerns about the ongoing political situation in Niger and, as a
consequence, the ongoing review of USG-GON bilateral engagements.
End summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador opened the meeting with the demarches (refs a
through c). The FM indicated the GON would send a representative to
the Food Security Summit in New York and noted that Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez had invited the African nations to Caracas to
attend an African-Latin American Cooperation Summit that falls
during the same time period as the UN Food Security Summit. On
Iran's nuclear program FM Mindaoudou responded that the GON only
supports nuclear technology for "peaceful means and civil defense."
She insisted that this has always been the GON's stance on Iran's
nuclear program, and that the GON will continue to affirm this
position. On Kosovo independence, the FM instructed the Director
for the Americas, Asia and Oceania to note the possibility that the
GON may be approached for a meeting, but she did not commit the GON
to any specific actions.

3. (U) After concluding with the demarche matters, Ambassador
conveyed USG concern and disappointment about the turn of political
events in Niger, stifling ten years of democratic progress. She
added that for nine years the Republic of Niger had been lauded as a
model democracy on the African continent, but that image has been
tarnished by the recent dissolution or tampering with institutions
(e.g. the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court), changes
to the composition of the High Council for Communication (CSC) with
adverse effect on press freedom, arrests of persons in opposition to
the constitutional referendum and imposition of a travel ban on
former parliamentarians, all actions more characteristic of an
autocracy than a democracy. Mindaoudou was resolute in her support
for President Tandja, stated she understands the USG position, but
insisted that "the GON will continue to serve the people." She
remarked that a number of partners had expressed their views on the
Nigerien political situation, had discussed with the GON possible
sanctions, and that the GON will have to adjust to its changed
relationships accordingly. In short, the Ambassador and FM agreed
to disagree about the current state of Niger's political
environment.

4. (U) Ambassador Allen expressed disappointment that candidates for
the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) missed or may
not be able to attend their respective programs because of recent
arrests and the GON travel ban for some persons. She cited as an
example a woman parliamentarian who missed the opportunity to
participate in an IVLP because of the travel ban imposed on some
former parliamentarians, and suggested that the FM, as a former IVLP
participant, perhaps could appreciate the benefit of the IVLP,
especially for women leaders. FM acknowledged the benefits of the
program, but made no comments regarding persons who have missed or
will miss opportunities this cycle.

5. (SBU) At the close of the meeting the FM, prompted by the
Americas Director, lodged a complaint about the trafficking in
persons (TIP) report, notably the information regarding prostitution
in Niger. The FM alleged that the report reads as if prostitution
is rampant in Niger. Ambassador responded that she didn't recall
such a strong characterization of prostitution in the TIP report,
but stressed that Niger is not immune to prostitution, especially in
mining areas. Ambassador added that the Embassy had reported GON
efforts to address TIP issues, but that those efforts were deemed
marginal by the relevant Department of State office, especially
since the GON has yet to pass and implement anti-TIP legislation.
(Note: The GON has not passed an anti-TIP law, though the Embassy
has raised the matter with the GON dating back to 2005 and a draft
law was prepared in 2006. End note.)

Allen

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