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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05PARIS908 2005-02-14 11:06:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OVERVIEW OF SECSTATE VISIT TO PARIS

Tags:   KPAO OPRC OIIP FR 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000908 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/PPD


E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC OIIP FR
SUBJECT: PUBLIC AFFAIRS OVERVIEW OF SECSTATE VISIT TO PARIS




1. Summary: Three dominant views emerged in the French
media from a plethora of reaction to the Secretary's visit
to Europe. Coverage of the Secretary's visit to Paris was
extensive, and its tenor was quite warm, especially when
contrasted with the Iraq-inspired chill in American-French
relations. She was portrayed as genuine and charming,
placing "Bush in the best possible light" (`Liberation'
headline). Following the generally effusive reaction to
what was heralded as a change in tone from Washington, some
analytical pieces, appearing after commentators had parsed
her speech and heard her comments in Brussels in meetings
with NATO and EU members, stressed that while there was a
"new tone" in relations, substantial policy differences and
potential "cold showers" remain, especially regarding Iran,
the arms embargo on China and democracy in the Middle East.
(Article in `Depeche du Midi;' Editorial in `Republicain
Lorrain'; Analysis in `Le Figaro.') Other commentary
included introspective calls for Europe to design a
complementary and active partnership with the United States
in the pursuit of common goals around the globe. End
Summary.

THE U.S. AND EUROPE TOGETHER AGAIN



2. French national and regional press made much of the fact
that the Secretary gave her "much awaited"' speech in Paris
as a "sign of goodwill" and played "no false note" during
the visit. (Analysis in `La Croix'; Editorial in
`Liberation'). The media's take on her speech was
overwhelmingly positive with headlines and articles entitled
"Turning the Page" and "Condi Rice Wants to Open a New Era
with Europe"' (Analysis in `La Croix;' Article in `Le
Figaro') and commentaries stating: "We are witnessing a new
chapter in Franco-American relations" and "The warming of
relations appears to be a priority for the second Bush
administration" (TF1 Television commentary; Editorial in `Le
Figaro').



HOPEFUL BUT WARY



3. Later analytical pieces advocated a wait-and-see
attitude. One commentary opined, "She talks the talk, but
will she walk the walk?" It asked whether the United States
had really "converted to multilateralism and dialogue," or
if it was just making a "tactical adjustment" of tone to
curry goodwill among Europeans (Editorial in `Liberation').
Once the Secretary spoke in Brussels and "went on the
offensive," "raising issues of dissension such as Iran, Iraq
and the embargo against China" (Analysis in `Le Figaro'),
some commentators returned to earlier opinions that saw
stark differences in transatlantic reactions regarding these
problem areas and concluded that the tone may have changed,
but not the substance of American policy. They suggested
Europeans "have a choice between supporting U.S. policy or
taking their distance, with the risk of a serious
transatlantic crisis." (Analysis by F. Heisbourg in `La
Croix'). Another comment regarding the perceived U.S. "re-
engagement in the Middle East," negatively described "a
triumphant America seeking to graft its conception of
culture and democracy wherever it can so as better to
dominate economically' (Editorial in `Republicain Lorrain').
This theme of the U.S. desire to dominate allies and pursue
its agenda was echoed by others in the national and regional
press who wrote: "American-style partnership has two
pillars: the conviction of being right and the knowledge it
is all-powerful. The partners have a choice between being
obedient or pretending to protest" (Editorial in `La
Croix'). Others chided the Secretary for believing some
partners are more equal than others. "The ink wasn't dry on
the headlines celebrating the Franco-American "reunion"
after two years of strained relations when the heroine of
this reconciliation... reminded Europeans that in a
partnership of equal rights and duties, the American vision
remained more equal in the treatment of the great
international issues' (Editorial in `Nord lair').

AND NOW NEEDED: EUROPE'S RESPONSE



4. Still other reflective pieces in recent days, in the
prestigious `Le Monde' and `Le Figaro' newspapers, offered a
third view on the Secretary's message. Rather than insist
on America's desire to pressure Europeans into falling in
line, they focused on the need for Europe to decide its
policy and pursue action in response to the U.S. challenge
of building democracy and containing proliferation. One
commentator proffered, "There are no diverging interests of
a long-lasting nature"; (both sides) share the same goals
and "can complement each other." Another stated, `It is up
to Europeans, and perhaps most particularly the French, to
more clearly enunciate our vision of the promotion of
democracy, to be faithful to our ideals and more capable in
the transatlantic framework."



5. Conclusion and Comment: The decision to include a public
event that reached across the broad spectrum of French
society in the Secretary's itinerary resulted in tremendous
media coverage of her speech and overwhelmingly positive
reaction to the Secretary as a person. The event -- and
its location in France at Sciences Po -- succeeded in
assuaging many concerns about Secretary Rice's views of
Europe and her ability to relate to Europeans. Although
some remained more reserved in their praise with respect to
substance and policy and despite some carping about the
selection process of audience and student questions, the
Secretary largely won over students, opinion leaders, and

SIPDIS
officials with her willingness to enter a debate. In
discussion with Embassy staff after the speech, while noting
that the Secretary did not mention the European Union's
efforts in trying to peacefully negotiate with Iran and
expressing surprise that she used the recent Franco-American
pressure on Syria to allow free Lebanese elections as an
illustration of positive U.S.-French relations, students
expressed approval that a greater amount of time and
attention would be devoted to Israeli-Palestinian issues.
Audience members said they were pleased to discover Dr.
Rice's ease and comfort in talking about philosophical
issues and shared values. Many expressed real excitement at
seeing the U.S., with the Secretary as its public face,
trying to reach out and reinvigorate relations through this
public event. The Sciences Po event was a public affairs
success, which left many Europeans hopeful that they had
rediscovered a partnership they feared lost.

Leach