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2005-05-10 14:41:00
Embassy Paris
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 003146 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/09/2015

REF: A) STATE 84333 B) PARTO 00009 C) PARIS 2863

1.4 B/D

1. (C) Summary: A senior MFA official confirmed France's
preference for an EU assistance mission to the African Union
(AU) in Darfur. While the French approach is still evolving,
MFA officials believe the EU should continue to build on its
existing assistance efforts to the AU (AMIS). Towards that
end, France and Germany have shared within the EU a non-paper
with suggestions for beefing up the EU mission, to include
French aerial surveillance over Chad. The EU reportedly has
not taken up the non-paper, but could do so for or at the May
13 EU Political and Security Committee (PSC) meeting. The
overall French approach has not been settled given
differences between the MFA and the MOD, with the latter
reportedly more committed to an EU mission. We can expect
the Elysee to have the final say. We understand that for
domestic political reasons, the President's office is partial
to an EU mission. Meanwhile, the MFA stressed that France
remains open to a NATO response to the AU's assistance
request and cited FonMin Barnier's May 2 comments to the
Secretary that France would take a "pragmatic approach." Our

MFA contact also stated that NATO and the EU should be aware
of historical sensitivities in the region against foreign or
a Western presence. France therefore reiterates the
importance of the AU retaining ownership of assistance
efforts in Darfur. The French also believe that NATO and EU
efforts should be complementary, i.e., France would support
NATO efforts as long as they bring "value added." End

France keen on EU assistance


2. (C) In a May 9 meeting with Francois Carrel-Billiard, MFA
DAS-equivalent director for NATO/ESDP issues, he confirmed to
poloff France's preference for EU versus NATO assistance for
the African Union mission in Darfur. By way of background,
he noted that working in the region has not been easy,
especially given historical sensitivities opposed to the
presence of non-Africans, i.e. Westerners. Those
reservations have been mostly overcome. Nonetheless, for
this and other reasons, it is important that the AU continue
to lead relief efforts. He cited key French bilateral
assistance to date: deliverance of some 700 tons of
humanitarian assistance via French forces in neighboring
Chad, patrols on the border with Chad and Darfur, and
assurance of security for some refugee camps in Chad. France
also has contributed to the EU's assistance to the AU's Peace
Facility, which includes a total EU commitment of some 92
million euros.

3. (C) Carrel-Billiard confirmed that France and Germany have
produced a non-paper with specific proposals for further EU

assistance reinforcing the AU's efforts. By way of examples,
he noted that France could assist with the training and
rotation of a Senegalese battalion to Darfur, help provide
planning assistance to the AU, and reinforce the EU team
already in Addis. France could also help EU efforts by
providing observation flights over Darfur. The flights would
help the AU to get a lay of the land in order to better
target its assistance. Carrel-Billiard emphasized that
French observation flights would not seek to create a "no-fly
zone," but rather to provide visibility for the AU's
stabilization efforts. He said that currently France is
flying planes along the Chad side of the border (Operation
DORCA) and is prepared to extend the flights over Darfur with
AU and regional concurrence. Carrel-Billiard volunteered
that Sudan may oppose the operation, but such a refusal would
raise questions about Sudan's ultimate aims for Darfur.

4. (C) In response to our queries, Carrel-Billiard stated
that EU member states had not yet commented on the
Franco-German proposal, but some could do so for or by the
May 13 PSC. He could not share details on planning for the
PSC, noting that the French mission at NATO had the lead. In
terms of a NATO or EU response to the recent assistance
request from AU Chairman Konare, he speculated that many EU
and NATO members likely would come to a decision on their
responses based on what the United States decides "to bring
to the table." He ventured that this would be especially
true of the British.

Pragmatic on a NATO role


5. (C) We stressed the USG position that NATO and the EU
should have roles to play in assisting the AU and that
assistance should be complementary -- no need for NATO-EU
conflict. Carrel-Billiard in turn reiterated FonMin
Barnier's May 2 comment to the Secretary that France would
take a "pragmatic approach" towards a NATO role (refs A and
B). He observed how France and the U.S. have worked well in
the region (transport of Rwandan troops) and was optimistic
that agreement could be reached between NATO and the EU.
France was not opposed to a NATO mission, but it is
predisposed towards building on the existing EU mission, he
added. Separately, MFA PDAS-equivalent for Africa Elisabeth
Barbier told Embassy Africa watcher that an EU mission did
not preclude a NATO role, if that is what the AU wanted. MFA
IO DAS-equivalent Jean-Pierre Lacroix similarly emphasized
that there was enough work in Darfur for NATO and the EU.
Carrel-Billiard cautioned that for NATO-EU cooperation to
work, NATO would need to bring "value added" to relief
efforts, but provided no details. In response to our query
on French resistance to a NATO meeting with Konare at the
NAC, Carrel-Billiard would only comment that it would be more
useful to hear out Konare at the secretariat level before
moving on the larger NAC forum. Obviously, his consultations
with the NATO SecGen would also provide insights into AU
thinking, he noted. Despite Carrel-Billiard's generally
positive comments, he cautioned that France was uncertain
whether Chad, Sudan, and other countries in the region would
be open to a NATO presence in Darfur.



6. (C) Making clear France's preference for an EU mission,
Carrel-Billiard nonetheless presented us with a cautiously
positive view of a NATO role in Darfur. We note that the
French position on support for NATO and EU missions is still
evolving, which likely explains Carrel-Billiard's avoidance
of any comment on the MFA strategy for the May 13 PSC. We
also expect the MOD and the President's office to shape
France's final approach to a NATO mission and will provide
further information as received. Separately, as is the case
with many issues in France these days, the upcoming May 29
referendum on the European Constitution may color the debate,
as well. We understand from the MFA that while FonMin
Barnier is open to a NATO role, Defense Minister Alliot-Marie
and others at MOD feel more strongly about the primacy of an
EU mission. This preference is linked to accusations by some
French opponents of the Constitution that the EU is
subordinating EU security and defense issues to NATO. We are
pursuing this discussion with our MOD interlocutors, given
that it has generally been the MOD that has been more
supportive than the MFA of U.S. views. We add that the local
German Political Counselor (protect) conveyed the same
message to us that President Chirac favors an EU mission in
Darfur in order to provide French voters with a visible sign
of the EU's security and defense policy (ref C). End comment.

7. (U) Khartoum minimize considered.