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2005-08-21 16:40:00
Embassy Algiers
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 ALGIERS 001766 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2015



Classified By: Ambassador Richard W. Erdman, Reason 1.4 (b) (d)




E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2015



Classified By: Ambassador Richard W. Erdman, Reason 1.4 (b) (d)


1. (C) During their August 18 meeting, President Bouteflika
and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator
Richard Lugar discussed Morocco and the Western Sahara (ref
A), U.S.-Algerian bilateral relations, Libya, Iran, Iraq,
Syria, Lebanon, Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, the coup in
Mauritania (ref B), Saudi Arabia, and UN reform. Bouteflika
offered Algeria's discreet good offices if the U.S. wanted
help engaging Iran and Syria, both of which he said sought a
quiet, direct dialogue with the U.S. On Libya, Bouteflika
welcomed Qadhafi's decision to give up WMD and the resultant
improvement of relations with the U.S. He expressed
appreciation for Sharon's decision to withdraw from Gaza and
volunteered that some settlements would remain even after a
peace settlement, and said Algerians thought only the U.S.
could achieve a settlement. On Saudi Arabia, while noting it
was not his role to defend the Saudis, whom he said had been
implicated in Islamist extremist terrorism in Algeria, he
commented that the U.S. should be careful not to send the
signal that it wanted to do away with the Al Saud. Senator
Lugar praised the growing U.S.-Algerian bilateral
relationship and expressed appreciation for Bouteflika's

2. (C) Lugar said Libya was moving in the right direction.
He noted that many Americans felt we could not solve the
Arab-Israeli conflict by ourselves. He assured Bouteflika
that the U.S. did not seek to replace the Al Saud, but that
the Saudis needed to take action to control their own
extremists and deal with the issues that produced extremism.
On UN reform, Bouteflika stressed that Algeria supported
comprehensive reform even though expansion of the Security
Council unfortunately was getting all the attention. He
expressed understanding of the complexity of expanding the
Security Council; said he recognized that the U.S. would not

allow new members of the UNSC to have the veto; and noted he
was only insisting on an African veto "to embarrass the G-4."
If expansion did not take place in a "democratic manner,"
Bouteflika said he preferred the status quo. End Summary.


3. (C) Senator Lugar began the meeting by thanking
Bouteflika for the outstanding hospitality and warm reception
accorded to him and his delegation by the Algerians. He
extended greetings from President Bush, and said that on
behalf of the President and the American people, he was
conveying sympathy at the loss of the two Algerian diplomats
killed in Iraq. Senator Lugar noted the U.S. was pleased
that Algeria had established an embassy in Baghdad and was
working with us and others to build democracy in Iraq and
enable the Iraqi people to stand on their own feet.

4. (C) Turning to bilateral relations, Lugar expressed
admiration for Bouteflika's leadership in promoting democracy
and a market economy in Algeria. Algeria was a major
provider of natural gas to the U.S., and the Algerian economy
offered great potential for American investors. Lugar noted
the U.S. could learn from Algeria's experience in the war on
terrorism, and said Algeria's counterterrorism cooperation
was exemplary. Bouteflika welcomed Lugar and his
delegation's visit, adding that Algeria wanted a special
relationship with the United States. Algeria could not "make
miracles," but the U.S. could. Bouteflika underscored
Algeria's readiness to extend full cooperation in the
political, economic, and military areas of the relationship.
Bouteflika said he was pleased to see improved U.S. relations
with Libya and Sudan, noting that he had worked with the U.S.
to bring these improvements to fruition.


5. (C) Bouteflika said he sometimes read about Iran's
history and was struck by the complexity and intelligence of
Iranian civilization. Differences with Iran, including the
nuclear issue, should be addressed through diplomacy. The
EU-3 was active in this regard, but Iran was really
interested only in a quiet dialogue with the U.S. Evincing
some sympathy for the Iranian position, Bouteflika said he
thought Iran wanted to be free to develop a peaceful nuclear
capability, but then added that Iranian leaders also viewed
their situation in a regional context, with nuclear-armed
Pakistan and India next door.


6. (C) Bouteflika observed that the situation in Iraq was
complex, with difficult negotiations over the constitution
continuing. He thought the formula of a federation was the
maximum Iraq could manage if Iraqis wanted to keep their
country united. The fact that a Kurd was now Iraq's
President was an important signal of the extent of change.
Nevertheless, he cautioned that any attempt to establish an
independent Kurdistan would cause "an explosion" that would
affect the whole region. Bouteflika said he was following
the Iraqi Transitional Government's efforts "with sympathy
and affection," adding that so far, last January's elections
had brought the most significant progress. Elections were
"not a panacea" but they were important. Lugar said the
Iraqis needed the support of the U.S. and the international
community to establish a new government, restore security,
and rebuild their country. He expressed appreciation for
Bouteflika's comments, saying that the U.S. experience in
Iraq was difficult and we could learn from the views and
experience of friends in the region.


7. (C) Bouteflika said the situation in Iraq could not be
separated in Arabs' minds from the question of Palestine. In
addressing the problem of terrorism, it was essential to
discuss the root causes. Israel's withdrawal from Gaza was a
"step forward," but it must be the beginning of the process
of establishing a Palestinian state existing beside Israel on
an equal footing. Bouteflika acknowledged that dismantling
settlements was not easy for Sharon. Looking ahead,
Bouteflika said Arab normalization of relations with Israel
will follow naturally from Israeli withdrawal from occupied
territory. It was not so important if "one or two
settlements remained" in Palestine, since many Palestinians
would live in Israel as well. It was impossible, he
stressed, to build a lasting wall between two people who had
so much in common. Palestinians had been influenced by
Israel and were different from other Arabs. Bouteflika
commented that the late Yitzhak Rabin, when he wanted to
compliment Arafat, had told the Palestinian leader that he
had "some of the qualities of an Israeli Jew." This was the
best compliment anyone ever paid to Arafat, Bouteflika joked.

8. (C) Bouteflika said he would like to see Sharon find a
solution. There was no doubt that the settlers would leave
Gaza. One million European settlers had left Algeria
overnight. When the Jewish settlers felt they lived on
islands surrounded by Arabs, they would leave voluntarily.
Algerians, he underscored, did not expect a solution to come
from anyone but the United States. Senator Lugar said the
U.S. needed Arab partners and the international community to
do their part. Noting Bouteflika's remark that the U.S. must
assume its responsibilities to achieve peace, Lugar observed
that many Americans thought the U.S. could not bear all the
responsibility itself. The involvement of Europe and other
friends was needed as well. Bouteflika said the Europeans
could offer advice to the U.S. but they had "no capacity to


9. (C) Bouteflika said all countries had a duty to fight
terrorism. Algeria had paid a heavy toll but it had also
gained valuable experience. Terrorism was a transnational
phenomenon, and all the international community's resources
must be used to fight it. It would be a great mistake,
however, to regard Islam as equivalent to terrorism. There
was no "green peril" as there had been a "red peril." Islam
was a religion of tolerance just like Judaism or
Christianity. There must not be a Jewish-Christian crusade
against Islam. Nothing, he said, justified suicide bombings,
which were a barbaric practice. Nevertheless, Bouteflika
asserted, it must be admitted that the Palestinian question
would not have received the level of international attention
it was getting had it not been for some Palestinians
resorting to inhuman violence. He said he was making this
point to convince the Senator that respect and
self-determination were serious issues for the region.
Senator Lugar said he was struck by Bouteflika's comments and
was concerned by each of the conflicts discussed. The
Senator said he had made extensive mental notes and would
discuss these points with President Bush and Secretary Rice
when he returned to Washington.


10. (C) Senator Lugar noted that he planned to visit Libya
after Morocco, adding that he understood that Libya was
looking for greater clarity regarding the direction of its
relations with the U.S. The Senator said he was pleased
Libya had decided to abandon its pursuit of WMD and that it
was moving in a more constructive direction. His visit to
Libya could also contribute to greater cooperation among
Maghreb states. Bouteflika said he was glad the Senator was
going to visit Libya. Quoting an Algerian proverb,
Bouteflika said that convincing the Libyans to work with the
U.S. had been like teaching someone to pray but then having
them run away with the prayer rug. At least with Qadhafi, he
had run away with the rug but he had run in the right
direction. Bouteflika noted that he had just seen Qadhafi in
Sirte, Libya. He advised Lugar not to refer to Qadhafi as
president, but rather as Colonel Qadhafi or as the Leader of
the Revolution.


11. (C) Turning to Syria, Bouteflika said Algeria was ready
to help the U.S. in a discreet, low-key manner if we were
interested. Algeria had no direct interests, with only
"moral satisfaction" to be gained. Senator Lugar said we saw
an opportunity for a new relationship with Syria after its
withdrawal from Lebanon, but first we wanted Syria to take
steps to halt the infiltration of terrorists into Iraq and to
cease its support for Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist
organizations. The U.S. was prepared to improve relations
with Syria, but greater Syrian cooperation was needed to
bring security to Iraq and make progress toward
Israeli-Palestinian peace. Bouteflika agreed that Syrian
support for Hizballah was a problem. Hizballah was also a
political party represented in the Lebanese parliament, but
it was an armed political party. Syria could help by
promoting Hizballah's transformation into a normal political

12. (C) Bouteflika said it was important to remember that
when the U.S. started to make progress on the Palestinian
issue, it should not neglect Lebanon's demand for Sheba Farms
and Syria's demand for the Golan. Senator Lugar pointed out
that Israel was no longer occupying Lebanese territory. DAS
Gray added that the UN had determined that Israel had fully
withdrawn from Lebanon and that Sheba Farms was Syrian
territory. Ambassador added that Lebanese President Lahoud
had sent a letter to Kofi Annan confirming that Israel had
totally withdrawn from Lebanon. The Lebanese demand for the
return of Sheba Farms was Syrian propaganda. Bouteflika
replied that whether it was Lebanese or Syrian, Sheba Farms
was still occupied territory and Israel must withdraw from
it. Syria had withdrawn its army from Lebanon, but it was
important to realize that one million Syrians still lived
there, he claimed. The Lebanese Shia still depended on
Syria, especially the speaker of the parliament. The two
countries were also linked by commercial interests.
Bouteflika also cautioned the U.S. not to think it had the
same goals in Lebanon as the French, even if it now shared
positions with France. France sought to get Syria out in
order to expand French influence, and Chirac wanted personal
revenge for the killing of his friend, Rafik Hariri.

13. (C) Bouteflika advised the U.S. enter direct discussion
with Asad without preconceptions. We should offer assurances
that the U.S. did not seek to overthrow him and that we were
ready to offer support if he democratized his regime. Former
NEA A/S Burns had talked to Asad about securing the Iraqi
border and they had agreed on a joint commission. This could
be extended, with a bilateral approach to establishing border
security. Asad, unlike his father and his brother, was
British-educated. If the U.S. would talk to Asad without
antagonizing him, it would find him ready to engage. Asad
could not cooperate if he thought the U.S. wanted to
overthrow him. Bouteflika advised the U.S. to engage Asad
without going through Arab intermediators such as the
Egyptians or Saudis. Asad was "not anti-American" and would
gradually come around if we engaged him. Bouteflika
concluded that he knew Asad would like to be reassured
directly by the U.S. Another reason Syria was nervous was
that everyone was talking about the Road Map but no one was
discussing the Golan. Asad had withdrawn his army and
intelligence services from Lebanon, he claimed, and was
making internal changes. The U.S. should help him.


14. (C) Bouteflika asked about U.S. relations with Saudi
Arabia and particularly King Abdullah. Senator Lugar said
the relationship was very important for the U.S. King
Abdullah faced enormous problems, and the Saudi Government
needed to do more to control the infiltration of terrorists
into Iraq and to improve its internal counterterrorism
capabilities. King Abdullah had a reputation as a cautious
reformer, and he may try to do more now that he's king.
Abdullah's rule could be promising if he continued to move
toward greater citizen participation and more democracy. The
recent local elections were encouraging, but the Saudis
needed to move rapidly to build popular support and enhance
their own stability.

15. (C) Bouteflika said the U.S. knew the strong and weak
points of the Al Saud. There was no guarantee that elections
would produce more stability than continued rule by the sons
of Abdel Aziz. There was a greater acceptance of democratic
ideas in Saudi Arabia, but the Al Saud were the backbone of
the regime. They had their limitations, but also their
strengths, and had proven they could be effective.
Bouteflika advised Senator Lugar that the U.S. should not
give the world the impression that it could use the Al Saud
and then throw them away. Lugar responded that he had not
meant to give that impression, adding that the existence of
anti-regime forces in Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with the
U.S. The Saudis must take their own measures to control them.

16. (C) Bouteflika said he agreed, but added there was no
universal model of democracy. There was American democracy,
British democracy, and European democracy based on the French
model. It was fine to want Saudi Arabia to be democratic,
but Saudi democracy would have to be based on their culture
and history. Algeria, he noted, was not a monarchy and he
was not the defender of the Saudis, especially since they
were implicated in supporting Algerian terrorism. However,
for democracy to take root in the Arab world and Africa, the
political culture must be taken into account. King Abdullah
was an old man and would not be around too long. It would be
better to wait for the rule of his grandsons, who were all
American-educated anyway. "You can wait and talk to them in
the same language." If the Al Saud fell, there would be
instability throughout the Arabian peninsula for years.
Senator Lugar mentioned that he had appreciated the role of
Prince Bandar when he had been Ambassador to Washington.
Bouteflika said there were hundreds of princes like Bandar,
some of them even more interesting. For example, he cited
Prince Abdel Aziz bin Salman, the former astronaut.


17. (C) In concluding the meeting, Bouteflika said he wanted
to say a few words about reforming the United Nations. There
should be comprehensive reform of the entire UN system, not
just the Security Council. The General Assembly, for
example, should have more power, since it was becoming more
and more like Hyde Park in London, except that in the UN they
turn off the microphones after a certain point! Now everyone
was focused on expanding the Security Council and forgetting
the other areas of reform. It was clear, he said, that the
structure of the Security Council was based on the outcome of
World War II and needed updating. The question was how. It
was undeniable that India was the world's second largest
country and a nuclear power. India could easily submit a
claim to membership on the Security Council, even without the
rest of the G-4. After mentioning pros and cons of several
claimants to permanent membership, Bouteflika said it was
difficult to see how to select one or two African countries
to represent a continent with 43. Both Nigeria and South
Africa would make their claim, but Algeria did not want to
give them a "blank check." At the end of the day, each
country represented itself, not an entire region. Thus, the
only democratic solution was a rotating seat for Africa.

18. (C) As for Algeria's public insistence that an African
permanent member have the veto, Bouteflika said he knew for
sure the U.S. would never allow this to happen, and even if
Africa got the veto, what would it do with it? If the U.S.
wanted to invade a country, it would do so whether the
Security Council approved or not. Bouteflika commented that
his insistence on the veto was intended to "embarrass the
G-4" since they did not want expansion to take place in a
democratic framework. Bouteflika said his bottom line was
that if Security Council expansion was not going to be done
in a democratic framework, he preferred the status quo.

19. (U) Senator Lugar thanked Bouteflika for being so
generous with his time. Bouteflika said he would permit the
Senator and his delegation to depart for Tindouf so they
could carry out the mission of overseeing the release of 404
Moroccan prisoners, but the Senator must promise to return to
Algeria another time.

20. (U) Senator Lugar did not have the opportunity to clear
this message.

21. (U) Minimize considered.