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2005-04-21 16:11:00
Embassy Paris
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						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 002725 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2015




Classified By: Acting DCM Josiah Rosenblatt for reason 1.4. (b./d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: MFA DAS-equivalent for West Africa Foucher
on April 20 reviewed developments in Cote d'Ivoire. South
African President Mbeki's mediation efforts were a positive
development but it remained to be seen how and whether
Ivoirians would follow up to their advantage. Foucher said
the GOF was concerned about two issues: eligibility for the
presidential elections and disarming all parties to the
current conflict. On UNOCI, Foucher thought there would be a
second technical rollover of the mandate. France supported
SYG Annan's call for increasing UNOCI by 1,200 and supported
an additional increase of 2,000 beyond that; these increases
would allow UNOCI to expand both in scope and tasks, which
might include assisting in disarmament and providing security
for elections. Foucher said that Gbagbo and Ouattara could
defuse the eligibility issue by Gbagbo's agreeing to allow
Ouattara to run and Ouattara's agreement not to do so once
being named eligible, but Foucher wondered whether either
trusted the other sufficiently to allow for such a
development. Foucher said the GOF had no evidence indicating
that arms were being clandestinely brought into Cote d'Ivoire
from Burkina Faso. He noted that the one-year anniversary of
French-Canadian journalist Kieffer's disappearance in Cote
d'Ivoire has prompted new interest in the case, which the
French judiciary is actively investigating. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) MFA DAS-equivalent Bruno Foucher met with Africa
Watcher on April 20 to discuss several issues (septels). On
Cote d'Ivoire, Foucher said that South African President
Mbeki's efforts to mediate the crisis had been positive and
yielded an opportunity for Cote d'Ivoire to move toward
ending its turmoil. However, Foucher said it was important
for Ivoirians to take concrete steps to move forward now that
they had the chance to do so.

3. (C) Foucher noted two concerns. The first involved the
elections eligibility issue, where Mbeki's recommendations
had "put Gbagbo's feet to the fire." Foucher said that
Gbagbo's wisest course would be to comply and to declare
everyone eligible to run. Foucher cautioned, however, that
Gbagbo was relatively inexperienced in dealing with political
issues with an international scope. He might travel abroad,
engage in serious discussions, and make certain commitments,
as he had in this case, but once home, he was very much
influenced by his entourage, whose sole interests were its
own and not Cote d'Ivoire's larger interests. Foucher said
that, faced with such pressures, Gbagbo might not live up to
the commitments he had made in Pretoria.

4. (C) Foucher said the GOF's other concern involved

disarmament. How would disarmament take place, and in what
time frame, he wondered. He noted that setting target dates
and the like might prove futile unless all parties agreed to
disarm. Speaking more generally, Foucher said that the stage
had been well set following the Mbeki-sponsored talks, and
the proper political will seemed to exist. Foucher's concern
was over whether the parties would now take the necessary
steps to transform the current positive environment into
meaningful action.

5. (C) On the issue of peacekeeping, Foucher referred to
MFA A/S-equivalent Joubert's recent trip to the U.S. during
which he discussed peacekeeping with UN and USG officials,
including in Congress. Foucher said there would likely be
another "technical" rollover of UNOCI following the
expiration of the current mandate early in May. France
favored augmentation of UNOCI, in keeping with SYG Annan's
request in December for an increase of 1,200 peacekeepers.
Foucher also said that France would support UNOCI's expansion
by another 2,000 peacekeepers. These increases would allow
the mission to expand in scope and also take on new tasks,
such as possible roles in assisting in disarming the various
camps and providing security for eventual elections, roles
that Foucher said France would support for an expanded UNOCI.

6. (C) Foucher said the GOF was well aware of the
possibility that the U.S. Congress might examine closely the
need for UNOCI to be extended or expanded, which was one
reason Joubert discussed the issue with Congressional staff.
He noted also that another rollover might prove useful in
moving the next cycle of UNOCI expenses into the next U.S.
fiscal year, which could make Congressional agreement easier
to obtain. Joubert said that his talks on Capitol Hill went
well, Foucher commented.

7. (C) When asked about Alassane Ouattara, Foucher said
that the French had heard that Ouattara had indicated that he
might not run for President even if Gbagbo were to accede to
Mbeki's suggestion that those in Ouattara's position be
allowed to run. Foucher said that such an arrangement might
be a way of defusing the eligibility question without
requiring either Ouattara or Gbagbo to lose face. However,
Foucher said that arriving at such an arrangement would
require both to trust that the other would not do a
double-cross, and he was not certain that this was possible,
given the past history between Ouattara and Gbagbo.

8. (S/NF) We described briefly our limited recent contact
with Ouattara in connection with the delivery of the
Secretary's letter to him, in response to his letter

congratulating her on her appointment (reftels). When asked
whether the GOF maintained contact with Ouattara, Foucher
said that it did not. Asking that his comments be treated in
confidence, Foucher (protect strictly) said that the reason
the GOF did not maintain contact with Ouattara was President
Chirac's disapproval of Ouattara's "wedding in Paris" to "la
femme" of Houphouet-Boigny. Foucher repeated this comment
when we asked whether we had understood him correctly.
Foucher indicated that Chirac's views of Ouattara were such
that no one in the MFA or the Presidency sought contact with
Ouattara. Contact, he said, was maintained through "other
channels" (NFI). (NOTE: Our research of open sources
indicates that Ouattara's wife Dominique is French, has
extensive political contacts and influence, and once managed
some of Houphouet-Boigny's interests in France. There is no
indication that Mrs. Ouattara was once married to
Houphouet-Boigny. Thus it is not clear, based on Foucher's
comment, whether Chirac disapproves of some aspect of
Ouattara's relationship with Ouattara's wife because of a
prior (non-marital) relationship she may have had with
Houphouet-Boigny, of a relationship that Ouattara may have
had with Houphouet-Boigny's widow, or of some other
relationship among the parties. In contrast to what Foucher
said about Ouattara's contacts with the GOF, we note the
interview Ouattara gave to Jeune Afrique l'Intelligent (Jan
9-15, 2005, edition), in which Ouattara states that he has
good relations with Chirac and frequent contact with Elysee
Africa advisor Bonnecorse. END NOTE.)

9. (C) When asked about possible shipment of arms into Cote
d'Ivoire from Burkina Faso, a subject we had discussed with
him before, Foucher acknowledged that the GOF had had
concerns about this subject. He said that he had conducted
inquiries with various elements of the GOF and that,
presently, there was no evidence that such trafficking was
taking place. He said that he could not rule out that arms
were being introduced from Burkina Faso, but said the GOF had
no information that would confirm this.

10. (SBU) Foucher noted that the French media had focused
on the one-year (April 16) anniversary of the disappearance
in Cote d'Ivoire of French-Canadian journalist Guy-Andre
Kieffer. The French judicial investigation of the case had
produced considerable work for Foucher's office in terms of
four sets of letters rogatory that the GOF had prepared at
the investigating judge's direction for delivery to the GOCI,
and in preparing responses to press inquiries. Foucher did
not comment on the substance of the investigation but noted
the independent nature of the French judiciary, which French
judges protect strenuously enough that the MFA was often
reluctant to provide even friendly intra-government advice on
specific cases. Any intervention by a government agency,
Foucher suggested, was interpreted as pressure or
interference by the judiciary, and such was the case in the
Kieffer affair. Foucher said that it was difficult to
convince other governments of the independence French judges
enjoyed, which made investigations involving other countries
more complicated.