From: Lee, Carol [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2015 06:37 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP
Subject: Travel pool report #9
Senior administration officials briefed pool on AF1 about POTUS's meeting Monday about South Sudan.
President Obama will meet Monday for about 90 minutes in Addis Ababa with regional leaders to talk primarily about South Sudan, although they’ll also discuss regional terrorism issues. The meeting comes as Africa negotiators are on the verge of laying down essentially a final offer to the South Sudanese. They’ve set an Aug 17 deadline. U.S. preferred outcome is that both sides accept the Africa-negotiated plan, but doesn’t expect they will.
The meeting will include the presidents of Kenya and Uganda, the prime minister of Ethiopia, the chairwoman of the African Union and the foreign minister of Sudan.
Ethiopia has been a leader in the negotiations. U.S. officials have been laying groundwork for Mr. Obama’s participation in the meeting in recent weeks, with calls to regional leaders by Secretary Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, among others.
One senior administration official said the U.S. is not expecting a breakthrough at Monday’s meeting or by Aug. 17. Indeed the official said a positive outcome is not a “likelihood” – all but guaranteeing the U.S. will ramp up sanctions and move to a Plan B.
“I don’t think anybody should have high expectations that this is going to yield a breakthrough. The parties have shown themselves to be utterly indifferent to their country and their people, and that is a hard thing to rectify.”
The official cited a “recalcitrance” that’s been “unrelenting” among the parties and prevented a resolution. “Meanwhile the humanitarian situation is getting worse.”
“Both parties are part of the problem and this is not an opportunity for them to have a bunch of air time. They’ve had many, many opportunities with the regional leaders.” The official said they will face “sustained and concerted pressure” without a resolution.
Mr. Obama thought it was “timely” to get them together to get the two sides to agree to this “final best offer” but also to discuss in very concrete terms if that does not succeed what do we do next.”
“Which is not going to be more of the same.”
In U.S. view it needs to entail thinking about a transitional government of a different character and the application of additional pressure on both sides including additional sanctions. So this is an opportunity to reinforce the effort that’s on the table and to strategize on concerted efforts on next steps in the event that it doesn’t succeed.”
U.S. is not opposed to an arms embargo. A senior administration official said it’s one of the options on the table if this last-ditch offer fails. “But the thing is we have to find tools that affect the two parties equally, and the arms embargo is more one-sided than two-sided.”
Some sanctions under consideration – sanctions on individuals that target assets and travel; U.S. sanctions, international sanctions. The official described them as national sanctions, national sanctions taken in concert with other countries in the region or the European Union, or United Nations sanctions.
The meeting will also focus on counterterrorism efforts in the region. WH will announce Monday some security resources providing to the region.
The Wall Street Journal