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2006-02-15 12:39:00
Embassy Rome
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 ROME 000461 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/15/2016

REF: STATE 19516

Classified By: Classified by David D. Pearce, Political Minister Counse
lor, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 ROME 000461



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/15/2016

REF: STATE 19516

Classified By: Classified by David D. Pearce, Political Minister Counse
lor, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary. On February 7, PDAS Kurt Volker visited Rome
to meet with high-level GOI leaders to discuss Iran, Iraq,
the cartoon controversy, the Ukrainian Energy Crisis, NATO,
OSCE, Balkans, and UN Reform. Volker stressed the importance
of Italy's contributions to global security and need for
continued close cooperation on strategic issues. GOI leaders
assured Volker of Italy's commitment to remain engaged
regardless of the results of the upcoming elections and urged
the US to include Italy on decisions of global importance.
End summary.


2. (C) In an early morning meeting Volker met with MFA
Political Director Guilo Terzi, MFA G-8 and COESPU Director
Giampaolo Cantini, and MFA NATO Office Director Gianni
Bardini. Later, he met with PM Berlusconi's Diplomatic
advisors Gianpaolo Scarante and Francesco Talo. In the
afternoon, Volker participated in a lunch with MFA Director
General for the Americas Claudio Bisogniero, MFA DG for
European Integration Ferdinando Nelli Feroci, MFA Deputy DG
for Middle Eastern Affairs Luca Del Balzo, and MFA Director
of Balkan Affairs Raimondo De Cardona.

Italian Engagement in Global Affairs

3. (C) Volker stressed to all that the US recognized Italy's
prominent role in contributing to global security. This
global engagement gave Italy an important voice in helping
form US policy and opinion on issues of global security.
Additionally, today's close cooperation was laying the
groundwork for future close cooperation.

4. (C) Scarante told Volker that Italy would remain engaged
on the international scene regardless of the results of the
upcoming elections. Both Terzi and Scarante urged the US to
not to freeze Italy out of major international decisions.


5. (C) Scarante told Volker that Italy was behind the U.S. on
Iran and was prepared for any option the international
community decided on. He cautioned that sanctions might
strengthen the government. Scarante also recommended that
the issue be raised at the G-8 summit - where Italy and Japan
would be represented. In Italy's view, the EU-3 had outlived
its mandate. Talo added that the Russian proposal merited
close consideration. In a separate meeting, Terzi told
Volker that press reports that the Italian Ambassador in Iran
had held contacts, on instructions, with Iranian officials in
order to open up a new channel for negotiations were false.
He said it was a cautionary example of Iran leaking
misinformation to the press in order to sow division. Terzi
said he had recommended to U/S Burns that a discussion with
"Friends of the Secretary General" be convened in NY to
discuss the Iranian issue. That group should include Italy -
a key country with vested interests in Iran.

6. (C) Volker told Terzi and Scarante that the U.S.
appreciated the support of the majority of the IAEA Board of
Governor countries in referring Iran to the Security Council.
While this effort had not had an impact on Iranian
decision-making yet, an international consensus was building
and the issues of Iranian noncompliance were becoming more
clear to the world. The Russian proposal was important, but
it should not give the Iranians the impression its options
remain open. Russia should be encouraged to coordinate with
and be part of the international effort. The US was not
looking at other steps yet, but encouraged Italy to let the
rest of the international community know that it had
influence with Iran that it was prepared to exercise.


7. (C) Scarante told Volker that coordination on Iraq was
excellent and Talo cited the successful trilateral meeting
with the US and UK. Scarante affirmed that Italy's
commitment in Iraq remains, and any adjustments to its
presence in Iraq would be made in close consultation with the
United States, its other coalition partners, the Iraqi
Government, and according to conditions on the ground. He
added, however, that the Iraq issue remained sensitive in
Italy, especially during the current election season.

Cartoon Controversy

8. (C) Volker told Terzi and Del Balzo that the US condemned
the violence in the Middle East in response to the cartoon
controversy and wanted to avoid the situation spinning out of
control. The US was particularly critical of Syria, where
the demonstrations were largely government-sponsored. At the
same time, the European response appeared to be singularly
focused on the issue of freedom of the press without
considering issues of sensitivity, taste, and respect for
religious imagery. The US was urging governments in the
region to urge calm and speak out against the violence.
Volker stated that the OSCE was considering initiating a
discussion on tolerance and respect through its Mediterranean

9. (C) Terzi said that the GOI was firm in its support of
freedom of press and freedom of speech. It recognized,
however, that European countries needed to take steps to calm
the situation down and move cautiously on this issue to avoid
further violence. EU Political Director Solana had publicly
urged moderation and tolerance. Terzi agreed that the OSCE
could play a useful role. He added that Middle Eastern and
North African countries would likely be prepared to
participate in dialogue but they often sought to avoid
prominent roles and public commitments. Italy's special
interest in dialogue with Middle Eastern and North African
countries and in democratization was in stemming the tide of
immigrants to, and through, Italy, which Terzi termed a
problem that should concern all of Europe.

Hamas Victory

10. (C) Del Balzo told Volker that the Hamas victory should
be viewed as a protest vote against Fatah. The international
community needed to reserve judgment until a government was
formed. In the meantime a financial crisis could lead to
further extremism. Del Balzo noted that the EU believed that
even after the formation of a government, the international
community should reserve judgment to see how it performs. If
Abu Mazen remained in charge of security and foreign policy,
the results of a Hamas-led PA might not be so bad.

11. (C) Volker agreed that the Quartet should avoid a
financial crisis, but disagreed that the Hamas could be
allowed to govern without renouncing violence and calls for
the destruction of Israel. The US believed the Palestinians
voted for change and a better life and continued violence and
confrontation would not produce that. The U.S. would also
have legal problems with financial support to a Hamas-led PA,
unless the party renounced terrorism as a political tool.

Ukrainian Energy Crisis

12. (C) Terzi told Volker that 85 percent of Italian energy
sources were imported and the GOI had a large stake in the
resolution of the Ukrainian energy crisis. Like the US,
Italy was concerned about Russian interference in energy
deliveries and the nontransparency of energy contracts
throughout the region. They viewed the explosions on the
pipelines delivering gas to Georgia as particularly
suspicious. Italy believed that solving conflicts in the
Caucasus region would help prevent future energy problems.
International engagement would also ensure that Russia did
not protract or influence the resolution of the conflicts in
its favor. Terzi noted that the G-8 summit in St.
Petersburg would give the countries the opportunity to raise
this issue with Russia. Discussion of the need for stable
energy supplies and prices could be discussed and a code of
conduct for energy suppliers could be adopted.

13. (C) Volker told Terzi that the current gas crisis was
caused by the Russian monopoly position, and while Ukraine
needed encouragement to avoid entering into a nontransparent
deal that included shady middlemen, criticism of Ukraine was
unhelpful at this point. The US believed that the way
forward was for Europe to seek out new sources of energy,
additional suppliers, increase reserves and push for market
pricing of Russian fuel. The price differential of Russian
fuel to Ukraine and Georgia created a margin that could be
exploited by corrupt politicians and was keeping both
countries dependent on cheap Russian fuel. The sooner market
corrections could be introduced, the sooner both countries
would be able to resist Russian pressure.


14. (C) Volker told Terzi that the US supports OSCE reform
but that reform should focus on making the organization more
effective in promoting democracy and other security issues.
The US was pleased that the OSCE had reached an agreement on
financing that will allow the organization to continue to
work for the next three years. The US was working to get the
mandate of the head of the Office of Democratic Institutions
and Human Rights extended to three years to go through the
2008 Russian elections but Russia was insisting that two
years would be the maximum they would accept. The US wanted
to ensure that OSCE members resisted Russian pressure to
allow countries to comment on election reporting before it
was presented to the Permanent Council.

15. (C) Terzi said that the Italian MFA was sensing a
softening of the Russian position on the ODIHR mandate. He
also said that Italy's invitation to OSCE members to send
election monitors to monitor the upcoming Italian elections
would undermine the Russian argument that there is a double
standard for elections in Eastern European and Central Asian
countries. Volker agreed, adding that as the level of
confidence in elections in the east increases, the number of
countries sending observers will decline.


16. (C) Volker told his interlocutors that the US was
encouraged by German PM Merkel's recent speech outlining her
view that NATO was the primary strategic link in the
trans-Atlantic community. France, however, continued to
argue for limiting NATO's role in the world. Nevertheless,
the US and UK were drafting a paper on the expansion of
NATO's global reach through partnerships with Australia, New
Zealand and Japan. The US was studying proposals for
collective airlift and was favorably inclined on proposals
for collective funding. In the US view, collective funding
already exists; the only question was how to open collective
funding to humanitarian, peacekeeping and disaster assistance
operations. The US remained committed to making the NATO
Response Force operational and was prepared to make
high-value, high-cost contributions such as communications
and airlift, but due to commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan,
the US could not now contribute ground forces.

17. (C) Italy was very interested in the proposed US-UK paper
on expanding partnerships with Australia, New Zealand and
Japan. From the Italian perspective, NATO should not dilute
its capacity and focus by expanding its reach through
partnerships across the globe before countries and groups of
countries developed the infrastructure to participate in
operations. On budget issues, Italy believed collective
funding would allow more countries to contribute to NATO
operations without having to be overly concerned about costs.
Bardini told Volker that Italy did not see US inability to
commit ground forces to the NRF as a signal that the US was
not committed to the idea.

18. (C) Volker told the Italians the U.S. supported a major
initiative for NATO to build a training center in the Middle
East to help promote the development of defense reform,
leadership, logistical, police and peacekeeping capacity in
the region. The US had hoped for a site in Jordan or another
Middle Eastern country. Qatar had offered $10 million in
financial support for such a center but as a condition wanted
it located in Qatar. He said the US had reservations about
Qatar hosting the site because of Al-Jazeera,s presence
there and a desire to keep the facility closer to the

19. (C) Bardini and Cantini told Volker that Italy was highly
supportive of any initiative to strengthen the capacity of
regional countries and was already working through various
initiatives, including COESPU (Center of Excellence for
Stability Police Units), to develop high-level and
middle-management leadership capacity. Italy hoped to
include other G-8 nations, regional partners (Tunisia,
Turkey) and even countries with similar capabilities (Chile)
in the work of the Center.

EU Enlargement and Balkans

20. (C) Nelli Feroci told Volker that Italy remained
committed to achieving success in the Balkans and would push
to use EU enlargement as an effective tool in encouraging
progress. In his view, the EU squandered the opportunity to
use EU enlargement to press forward on the Cyprus issue, and
that missed opportunity would significantly complicate
Turkey's accession talks and a final solution to the division
of Cyprus. Nelli Feroci warned that the EU was entering into
a period of enlargement fatigue and Balkan fatigue.

21. (C) De Cardona stated that Italy was still in favor of a
union between Serbia and Montenegro, but was resigned to the
inevitability of a referendum on independence and was
following the lead of EU Envoy Lajcak on this issue. Italy
wanted the international community to begin focusing on
Montenegrin security and crime issues now, not after the
referendum. De Cardona noted that Fini was pleased the US
was focused on a relatively quick solution to the Kosovo
issue and on decentralization, protection of religious sites
and security of minority populations. Italy was concerned,
however, that pressure from the ICTY, the Montenegrin
independence movement and the Kosovo status talks were
putting unsustainable pressure on the fragile Belgrade
leadership that could result in the fall of the government.
He urged greater coordination in the development of messages
to the Belgrade leadership.

22. (C) Volker told his interlocutors that the US coordinates
closely with other CG countries and would remain part of a
NATO-led presence in Kosovo after a decision on status but
would likely reduce its presence. After the end of the
UNMIK mandate, the US would expect that other civilian
organizations would continue to provide support for
institutional and civil society development, but that the
Kosovars would have to be in the lead. The US supported EU
and NATO efforts to use Euro-Atlantic integration as a tool
for achieving progress but reminded the Italians that the US
was committed to ICTY compliance as a non-negotiable
obligation. On CG discussions, Volker said that the US had
told Russia the resolution of the Kosovo issue would not
carry any precedent weight in Abkhazia or Chechnya. Terzi

UN Reform

23. (C) Volker told Terzi that reform of the UN Human Rights
Commission was one of the cornerstones of the UN reform plan.
Without reform of the UNHRC, the US was not convinced it
should continue to participate in either New York or Geneva.
In that vein, last year the EU did not support a UNHRC
resolution condemning the US detention facility in
Guantanamo. The agreement was conditioned on a visit by EU
representatives to the facility. The visit failed to
materialize due to a disagreement on the conditions and
limitations of the visit. As a result, the EU has signaled
that it might not be able to oppose such a resolution this
year. Volker said much has changed this year. The US had
engaged the EU in discussion about the legal basis for
detentions and had invited the UN, OSCE, various governments,
and journalists to visit the facility. A UNHCR resolution
condemning the US would damage the credibility of the
organization and make it difficult for the US to participate
in its work. Terzi told Volker that the GOI was trying to
avoid "a paradoxical situation" where human rights violators
successfully passed a resolution condemning the US.

24. (U) PDAS Volker did not have the opportunity to clear
this cable before transmission.