Viewing cable 03ABUJA1084
Title: NIGERIA: OBASANJO SEEKING U.S. APPROVAL FOR GON

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03ABUJA10842003-06-19 18:16:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abuja
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L ABUJA 001084 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/19/2013 
TAGS: PREL MOPS PHUM LI SL NI ECOWAS
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: OBASANJO SEEKING U.S. APPROVAL FOR GON 
OFFER OF ASYLUM TO TAYLOR 
 
 
REF: ABUJA 1078 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR HOWARD F. JETER; REASONS 1.5 (B) 
AND (D). 
 
 
¶1.  (C) On the afternoon of June 19, President Obasanjo 
summoned me and acting British High Commissioner, Charles 
Bird to the Statehouse for a discussion on Liberia.  Also 
present were National Security Advisor LTG (ret.) Aliyu 
Mohammed and Presidential Advisor for International Affairs 
Ad'Obe Obe. 
 
 
¶2.  (C) Obasanjo began by recounting Nigeria's role at the 
recent Accra ECOWAS summit, noting that he, Kufuor and 
other Heads of State had met privately with Taylor, telling 
him he had to leave Liberia.  Obasanjo said Taylor 
understood and agreed to a three-step transitional program 
(REFTEL). 
 
 
¶3.  (C) Obasanjo also noted that he had discussed his 
asylum offer with President Bush and Prime Minister Blair 
at the G-8 Evian Summit.  According to Obasanjo, President 
Bush did not respond to the proposal, but promised to get 
back to Obasanjo.  Obasanjo said he was still willing to 
offer asylum to Taylor if the U.S., U.K. and U.N. agree. 
He also heard that all Liberian political parties would 
request the Special Court (SCSL) to suspend the indictment 
against Taylor in the interest of peace and reconciliation 
in Liberia. 
 
 
¶4.  (C) President Obasanjo then asked for our governments' 
likely views.  Bird said he suspected Liberia would be the 
subject of Obasanjo's summons and had been in touch with 
London just before coming to the Villa.  He said HMG was 
still considering its stance on the matter, but its initial 
position was that the indictment was a decision undertaken 
by the SCSL; therefore the U.K. would defer to the Court on 
the asylum proposal.  Bird said he would go back to London 
for a definitive answer.  I told Obasanjo I was unsure of 
Washington's position but that we would report the his 
request for a USG position on the asylum offer and get back 
to him as soon as possible.  I asked Obasanjo about UNSYG 
Kofi Annan's response.  He said that Annan said the U.N had 
no power over the SCSL and, therefore, would defer to it. 
 
 
¶5.  (C) Obasanjo said Nigeria would make the sacrifice of 
accepting Taylor because his removal from Liberia could be 
the most important single step toward peace in West Africa. 
His motive, he said, was to save lives in Liberia and, 
perhaps, beyond.  Obasanjo believes that if Taylor feels 
compelled to remain in Liberia because of the war crimes 
charges, he will fight to the end, even if that means 
sacrificing his own life.  Moreover, Taylor will not 
hesitate to spend others' lives in the process.  Taylor 
said as much to the Heads of State in Accra, Obasanjo 
recalled.  Obasanjo said, "if (Taylor) is forced to stay, 
he will fight dirty."  Obasanjo's fear is that an 
increasingly desperate Taylor will foment violence and seek 
to destabilize neighboring countries including Guinea, 
Sierra Leone and Cote d'Ivoire. 
 
 
¶6.  (C) Finally, Obasanjo said there was little else he 
could do to help resolve the problems in Liberia if his 
suggestion of asylum for Taylor is rejected.  I asked 
Obasanjo about a comment he made in a prior conversation 
that Taylor said he was willing to step down but wanted to 
stay in Liberia.  Obasanjo considered the suggestion a non- 
starter. 
 
 
¶7.  (C) COMMENT: Obasanjo seemed to be in a hurry to get a 
response back from us.  I assured him that I would try to 
get Washington's views as soon as possible.  I request 
Washington's urgent guidance on how to respond to 
Obasanjo's proposal and inquiry.  END COMMENT. 
JETER