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2005-06-27 14:20:00
Embassy Brussels
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						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BRUSSELS 002455 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/2015

Classified By: USEU Poloff Van Reidhead for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) SUMMARY: During a June 21 meeting in Brussels, NEA
Assistant Secretary David Welch and French MFA Middle
East/North Africa Director Jean-Francois Thibault welcomed
the excellent U.S.-France cooperation on Lebanon and agreed
that close coordination would remain critical as the new
government in Beirut takes shape. Thibault said France was
concerned that aggressive steps toward disarming Hizballah
could have a destabilizing effect, and urged that we work
with the new GOL to find a way to pursue our shared
commitment to disarming the militias. He was worried about a
punitive UNSCR on arms transfers. In that regard, Welch
pushed back, arguing that preventing more arms from reaching
Hizballah would put a ceiling on the problem. Thibault said
the U.S. and France should communicate that we want "fresh
figures" in the new government, although he thought we might
still have to tolerate Parliamentary Speaker Berri. Both
agreed that maintaining regional stability while promoting
reform should be a primary goal. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Thibault was accompanied by Deputy Director
(DAS-equivalent) Antione Sivan and Iraq Deskoff Renaud
Salins. Assistant Secretary Welch was accompanied by USEU
Poloff Van Reidhead (notetaker).

3. (S) During a June 21 bilateral meeting on the margins of
the International Conference on Iraq in Brussels, French MFA
Middle East/North Africa Director (A/S equivalent)
Jean-Francois Thibault welcomed strong U.S.-French
cooperation on Lebanon. Summarizing the June 13 Core Group
Planning meeting in Paris, he said France was pleased to see
the determination of Core Group members to keep the Lebanese
government at the center of our engagement and reform
efforts. France also welcomed the decision to hold an
international conference as soon as possible after the
formation of the new government in Beirut. As agreed on June
13 in Paris, France thought it would be very important for
Core Group members to work with the new government to
identify reform and assistance priorities that the GOL could
present at the international conference. The Core Group's
job would then be to bring international resources to bear to
assist the GOL achieve these priorities. We should strive to
boost the new government's credibility and sense of sovereign
ownership by keeping the emphasis squarely on the GOL and its
needs, Thibault said.

4. (S) Thibault and Assistant Secretary Welch agreed that,
having come out on top after the final round of Lebanese
voting, the Hariri Bloc had a difficult task ahead of it in
forming a new government. Hariri's mandate, while clear, was
not strong enough to avoid the tricky task of having to

navigate what Thibault called the "triangle of power": first,
PM Mikati, who seems to be generally cooperative these days;
second, President Lahoud, who "has been a sheep lately but
who still has a wolf lurking under the skin;" and third,
Parliamentary Speaker Berri, who France saw as the real
spoiler. Thibault urged that the U.S. and France communicate
that we want "fresh figures" in the new government, and that
we will not tolerate the "old and corrupt guard." At the
same time, we might be forced by political realities to
tolerate Berri to a certain degree, while recognizing that he
will "try to play dirty tricks."

5. (S) France remains committed to disarming the militias,
Thibault said, but also wants to be careful not to disrupt
the "fragile situation" that exists after Syria's withdrawal.
We should focus on finding and supporting a "Lebanese
solution," he said, one that includes integrating southerners
more fully into the economic system. But we should be
careful because "pushing them too much could cause a
dangerous situation." Assistant Secretary Welch said the
U.S. thought it was important to get the UNSC to issue some
kind of punitive resolution about arms transfers to non-GOL
groups, especially Hizballah. Thibault responded that the
region and Lebanon's neighbors would see an embargo as too
provocative. We should find out what the new GOL wants to
do, because a punitive declaration on arms transfers would be
very sensitive, could easily backfire, and would impact how
the GOL pursues the recovery of its sovereignty. Assistant
Secretary Welch said we would not need to call it an arms

embargo, since it would be clear what we were trying to
accomplish. We just need to find some way to disarm
Hizballah and prevent them from acquiring new arms. It would
be very important to have UNSC action by late summer, he
said, and the U.S. was confident the Arab states would accept
it. Furthermore, France could not argue for patience and a
political solution for Hizballah, against EU action to list
Hizballah as a terrorist organization and against an arms
cutoff. This could easily be seen as protecting Hizballah.

6. (S) Thibault and Assistant Secretary Welch agreed that
promoting regional stability should remain a shared goal as
we continue our close engagement on reform in Lebanon. While
Paris was very disappointed in Bashar al-Asad and was not
sympathetic toward his government, the French thought it
critical that Syria remain stable and not disintegrate.
Assistant Secretary Welch agreed that the disintegration of
Syria, despite what we think of the regime, was in nobody's

7. (SBU) Thibault concluded by saying he hoped to travel to
Washington over the summer and would like to meet again to
discuss other issues, especially the recent deterioration of
Morocco-Algeria relations. He and Assistant Secretary Welch
agreed that a Washington meeting could be arranged in late

(U) A/S Welch has cleared this message.