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Cablegate: Assistant Secretary Carson's Meeting with Spanish Vice

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INFO RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1105
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1559
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0266
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SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/W, OSD FOR DASD HUDDLESTON, NSC FOR GAVIN, LONDON
FOR POL(LORD), PARIS FOR POL(BAIN AND KANEDA), ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR
AU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SP
SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON'S MEETING WITH SPANISH VICE
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANGEL LOSSADA

1. Summary. On January 28, Assistant Secretary for African
Affairs, Johnnie Carson, met with Spanish Vice Minister for Foreign
Affairs, Angel Lossada, on bi-lateral issues related to Africa.
Lossada described Spanish interests and concerns in West Africa;
requested U.S. views on a proposed conference on Somalia; concurred
with maintaining UN peacekeepers in the Congo; and urged increased
U.S.-Spanish cooperation on narcotics, terrorism, and trafficking in
persons. Carson stressed the importance of judicial action against
pirates and drug traffickers, advised that a possible conference on
Somalia required careful advanced planning among all participants,
and welcomed increased bi-lateral cooperation on shared concerns
throughout the continent. End Summary.

2. Following the January 28 EU-U.S. Political Dialogue Meeting on
African Issues in Madrid, Assistant Secretary Carson conferred with
Vice Minister Lossada on bi-lateral issues. Lossada explained that
Spain's foreign policy had not been directed toward Western Africa
until recently. Now, he said, Spain recognized West Africa as its
neighbor and as the origin of numerous problems impacting the
Spanish people. He noted the flow of narcotics, illegal
immigration, trafficking in persons, and terrorism passing from the
Sahel region to Spain and the rest of Europe. Spain had responded
by opening several Spanish diplomatic missions in the region and had
revised its African Plan, first developed in 2004.

3. Assistant Secretary Carson acknowledged a common alliance
between the U.S. and Spain on West Africa and the need to address
global issues there. He referred in particular to the flow of
narcotics from Central America to the Gulf of Guinea and other West
African ports, stating that the same people who have been pushing
drugs to the U.S. were now transporting narcotics to Europe through
West Africa. Carson identified Ghana and Sierra Leon as two
countries that had cooperated in arresting drug traffickers and
extraditing them to the U.S. to face justice.

4. Lossada called the Sahel a vacuum where terrorism and organized
crime went largely unchecked due to the lack of will and capacity
among African nations to address security issues. He said that
cooperation among African nations was not working and that regional
integration was not taking place. Nevertheless, Lossada felt that
there had been some progress on illegal immigration resulting from
repatriation agreements and tighter border controls with certain
African nations. He stressed the need for better mechanisms to
control legal flows of immigrants and linkages between immigration
and the labor market. Repatriations, he argued, had dissuaded
potential illegal immigrants from risking their lives at sea and
discouraged mafias engaged in trafficking.

5. Lossada asked for U.S. views on a possible conference on
Somalia. Assistant Secretary Carson responded that the U.S. is
heavily committed in Somalia and believes more must be done to
support President Sharif and the Transitional Federal Government
(TFG). However, Carson advised that any such conference required
extensive prior planning, advance discussions with all participants,
and determination of objectives to ensure that impetus is given to
achieving strategic goals. He pointed out that all players needed
to be contacted, including key Arab states, the UN, and African
states so that the conference becomes something more than a
reaffirmation of previous unfulfilled commitments. In the past, he
said, many players spoke nicely and pledged funding, but did not
follow up with financial or public support.

6. Lossada readily concurred with Assistant Secretary Carson,
stating that careful planning is critical. He maintained that a
lack of momentum surrounds the TFG which must enlarge its
territorial influence to survive. It is time, he said, to change
the situation. Spain wants donors to deliver on previous financial
pledges so that trained security forces can get paid. He opined
that piracy will continue as long as the TFG lacks credibility and
pirates receive enormous sums of ransom money. Lossada said that
the international community needed to refocus on Somalia. Lossada
underscored that Spain would not call a conference by itself, but
rather he sought U.S. views on whether the timing is right for Spain
to encourage the UN to host a conference on Somalia.

7. Assistant Secretary Carson reiterated that the concept of a
conference could work, as long as it is well planned to achieve the

desired outcome. He said that many Arab states such as Saudi Arabia
and the Gulf states stand on the sidelines and that some African
states could be far more helpful. Carson cautioned against a
Brussels - type conference where countries make pledges and then
don't deliver.

8. Referring to the EU-U.S. Political Dialogue, Assistant Secretary
Carson reported general agreement that UN peacekeepers (MONUC)
should not be precipitously withdrawn from the Democratic Republic
of the Congo. Carson said that a new mandate for the peacekeepers
could better define their role. However, a sudden withdrawal of
these forces would likely result in an explosion of violence in
eastern Congo, particularly against women. Carson warned that
President Kabila had political motives for ending the UN
peacekeeping presence, but such a move would be destabilizing. On a
brighter note, Carson noted improved relations between Kinshasa and
Kigali.

9. Lossada acknowledged improved relations between Kinshasa and
Kigali, but fully concurred in maintaining UN peacekeepers in the
Congo. He said that MONUC is essential to avoid the spread of
violence from the eastern Congo to the rest of the country.

10. In summing up, Lossada said there had been a significant change
in Spain's thinking about West Africa. He saw both a threat and an
opportunity stemming from insecurity in the region. As a result of
illegal immigration and drug trafficking in West Africa, Spain had
opened new diplomatic missions, increased development assistance,
established stronger ties to the Economic Community of West African
States (ECOWAS), and stepped up cooperation with Ministers of the
Interior in the region. Spain, he said, wanted to work more
intensely with the EU, Portugal, France and others on global issues
in West Africa such as poverty, illegal immigration and drug
trafficking. Lossada said Spain was acting in its own self interest
as a matter of national security and he welcomed increased
cooperation with the United States in West Africa.

11. Assistant Secretary Carson thanked Lossada for his views and
referred to Secretary Clinton's strong emphasis on working together
with European partners and allies. Carson said that we are stronger
when we work together on shared ideas.

SOLOMONT

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