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Cablegate: Sudan: Arab League-Led Trade Delegation Visits Juba

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SUBJECT: Sudan: Arab League-led Trade Delegation Visits Juba

1. (U) Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa arrived in Juba on
February 23, leading a delegation of Arab investors and companies
to participate in the first Arab Investment Conference in Southern
Sudan. GOSS President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar
attended the event's opening session, as did the Minister of
Industry and Commerce, and Minister of Legal Affairs. The
conference was co-organized by the GOS, GOSS, and the Arab League.
Secretary General Moussa's special assistant told the Consul
General that this event had been in the works since 2008. Visiting
investors plan to tour Juba, Wau, Raja, Abyei, Malakal, the Upper
Nile, and Jonglei. The GOSS is promoting approximately 20
different investment projects in the fields of health, education,
animal resources, industry, and trade. Discussions also included
bringing Arab bank branches to Southern Sudan and setting up a
joint mechanism between the Arab League and the GOSS to follow up
on the implementation of these projects. There was no timetable or
discussion of when these efforts might begin, however. Moussa also
announced that the Arab League will provide scholarships for South
Sudanese students to be selected by the Government of Southern
Sudan.

2. (U) Finally, on respecting the results of the 2011 referendum,
Moussa remarked to the conference that "the Arab League, of course,
wants Southern Sudan to continue to be part of the Arab world, but
if separation occurs ... relations between the two sides will
continue, just as the Nile continues to flow from South to North."

3. (U) Comment: Interestingly, the Arab League's statement issued
in support of the conference touted, among other existing
investments in Southern Sudan, a controversial safari resort that
investors from UAE are attempting to establish in the savannahs
around the National Park in Boma, Jonglei state. While the growth
of an eco-friendly tourism industry would be welcome, local
communities involved in this initiative have been sharply critical
of it, claiming that the investors failed to fulfill pledges to
invest in the community with schools, water, and other social
services. Environmentalists were concerned that the initiative
would result in degradation of the park, with unplanned roads built
to access the lodge and no effective hunting controls. However,
they state that these fears have not been realized, in part, due to
the global financial downturn, which has kept visits to the park
down.
ASQUINO

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