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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03ROME98
2003-01-10 15:00:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

ITALY ON UNIFIL MANDATE RENEWAL NOTICE: WANT OUT

Tags:  KPKO MARR PREL IS LE SY IT UNIFIL UNSC 
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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 ROME 000098 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/09/2013
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ROME 00098 101524Z
TAGS: KPKO MARR PREL IS LE SY IT UNIFIL UNSC
SUBJECT: ITALY ON UNIFIL MANDATE RENEWAL NOTICE: WANT OUT
BUT CONCERNED ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES

REF: A. SECSTATE 5402

B. 02 ROME 3379

CLASSIFIED BY: POL MC THOMAS COUNTRYMAN FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D)



1. (C) SUMMARY: THE GOI WILL NOT OPPOSE THE RENEWAL OF THE
UNIFIL'S MANDATE THAT EXPIRES ON JAN 31, 2003. NONETHELESS,
FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE GOI IS SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING
GRADUALLY REDUCING ITS FORCES IN UNIFIL, EVENTUALLY
WITHDRAWING COMPLETELY FROM UNIFIL, AND RE-DEPLOYING ITS
FORCES TO THE MFO OR ELSEWHERE IN THE REGION. THE GOI IS,
HOWEVER, MOST CONCERNED ABOUT DAMAGING ITS RAPPORT WITH
LEBANON AND POTENTIALLY LOSING LEBANESE SUPPORT FOR AN
ITALIAN CANDIDACY FOR THE UNSC IN 2007-08. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) ON JAN 9, NEA WATCHER MET WITH LUCA FRATINI, THE MFA'S
DEPUTY OFFICE DIRECTOR FOR THE EASTERN MED, TO DISCUSS THE
FUTURE OF UNIFIL. FRATINI FIRST EXPLAINED ITALY'S HISTORY
AND COMMITMENT TO UNIFIL: ITALY HAS BEEN A MEMBER OF UNIFIL
SINCE 1978 AND, DESPITE THE REDUCTION IN FORCES FROM 5,000 TO
2,000 AND THE REDUCTION IN PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES FROM
FIFTEEN TO SEVEN AFTER ISRAEL'S WITHDRAWAL FROM SOUTHERN
LEBANON IN MAY 2000, ITALY STILL MAINTAINS A CONTINGENT OF
FOUR HELICOPTERS AND 52 MEN IN UNIFIL.



3. (C) AS ONE OF THE "SURVIVOR" CONTINGENTS IN UNIFIL, THE
OVER-EXTENDED ITALIAN MILITARY IS PAYING THE PRICE FOR
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ROME 00098 101524Z
LEBANON'S FAILURE TO FULLY HONOR UN SECURITY RESOLUTIONS,
GIVEN THAT THE LEBANESE ARMED FORCES TURNED OVER SOUTHERN
LEBANON TO HIZBALLAH, COMPLAINED FRATINI. HOWEVER, THE GOI
WILL NOT OPPOSE THE RENEWAL OF THE UNIFIL MANDATE THAT
EXPIRES ON JAN. 31, NOT ONLY BECAUSE THE GOI DOES NOT
QUESTION THE USEFULNESS OF UNIFIL, BUT ALSO BECAUSE TIME IS
RUNNING OUT TO OPPOSE THE RENEWAL THIS MONTH, EXPLAINED
FRATINI.



4. (C) THIS SAID, THE MFA IS SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING GRADUALLY
REDUCING ITS FORCES IN UNIFIL AND EVENTUALLY WITHDRAWING FROM
UNIFIL ALTOGETHER, ADDED FRATINI. THE FINAL DECISION ON
ITALY'S FUTURE CONTRIBUTION TO UNIFIL WOULD HAVE TO BE MADE
BY THE MOD, BUT FM FRATTINI IS STUDYING THE POLITICAL ANGLE
OF THE ISSUE. THE MFA IS CURRENTLY STUDYING WHETHER IT WOULD
NOT BE BETTER TO DEPLOY THE SAME FORCES TO THE MFO OR
POTENTIALLY IN THE FUTURE TO A THIRD PARTY MONITORING
MECHANISM (IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN ROAD
MAP.)



5. (C) HOWEVER, THE GOI IS CONCERNED ABOUT THE NEGATIVE
IMPLICATION THAT WITHDRAWING FROM UNIFIL COULD HAVE ON ITS
RELATIONS WITH THE LEBANESE GOVERNMENT. THE GOI DOES NOT
WANT TO LOSE LEBANON'S SUPPORT FOR THE ITALIAN CANDIDACY TO
THE UNSC IN 2007-08, AND THUS IS STUDYING CAREFULLY THE
TIMING OF ANY DECISION IT MAKES ON THE FUTURE OF UNIFIL,
UNDERLINED FRATINI. ITALY SHOULD EITHER NOT WITHDRAW AT ALL
FROM UNIFIL OR WITHDRAW SOON, LONG BEFORE THE 2007 DATE,
HOPING TO ENSURE LEBANON'S SUPPORT FOR THE ITALIAN UNSC
CANDIDACY, EXPLAINED FRATINI.

CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ROME 00098 101524Z


6. (C) COMMENT: COMPARED TO SIX MONTHS AGO (REF B) WHEN THE
MFA'S POSITION ON UNIFIL WAS "REDUCE IT, BUT DON'T DISMANTLE
IT," THE ABOVE IS A CONSIDERABLE CHANGE IN POSITION. EMBASSY
WILL FOLLOW THE MFA'S POLITICAL DECISION ON ITALY'S FUTURE
PARTICIPATION IN UNIFIL.
SKODON

CONFIDENTIAL

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2003ROME00098 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL