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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07BEIRUT1540 2007-10-03 08:03:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

LEBANON: ACTING FM MITRI BELIEVES UNSCR 1559

Tags:   PGOV PREL SY LE 
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P 030803Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9603
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1546
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1661
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 001540 

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NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/GAVITO/YERGER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL SY LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: ACTING FM MITRI BELIEVES UNSCR 1559
REMAINS VALID


Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d
).

SUMMARY
--------


1. (C) Acting Foreign Minister Tariq Mitri does not believe
the election of a new Lebanese president would necessarily
fulfill the requirements of UNSCR 1559, as Parliament Speaker
Nabih Berri is now claiming so as to be able to assert that
1559 will no longer be needed after elections. On the
election, Mitri relayed that he heard from Jordanian Foreign
Minister Abdelelah Al-Khatib that French Foreign Minister
Bernard Kouchner suggested delaying the Special Tribunal on
former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination in order
to placate the Syrians into allowing the elections to
proceed. This shocking statement was reportedly later
downplayed by French Special Envoy Jean-Claude Cousseran.
End Summary.

INTENT OF UNSCR 1701 DRAFTERS
TO REINFORCE UNSCR 1559


--------------------------





2. (C) The Ambassador, accompanied by PolOff, met with
Acting Foreign Minister Tariq Mitri October 1. As Mitri
participated in the drafting of UNSCR 1701 IN 2006, the
Ambassador, noting the recent calls by pro-Syrians to declare
UNSCR 1559 implemented, asked for his views on whether he
believes it supersedes or reinforces UNSCR 1559, specifically
regarding the disarmament of militias. "Frankly, I hadn't
thought about this," Mitri responded with surprise, promising
to speak to his diplomats in New York. Mitri agreed that the
drafters of 1701 had discussed this issue, and the assumption
at the time was that UNSCR 1559 would still apply. The
underlying assumption was that, with the Siniora government,
this issue was not a concern: the GOL believes that both
resolutions remain valid.



3. (C) Mitri noted that then-U.S. Ambassador to the UN John
Bolton was responsible for the insertion of UNSCR 1701 of the
part in OP8 calling for full implementation of UNSCR 1559.
At the time, Hizballah was so intent on getting a cease-fire
agreement that there was little discussion on the text of
UNSCR 1701. Soon after the resolution was passed, then-UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan was asked about the disarmament

SIPDIS
issue and was hesitant to state an opinion, saying that it
was up to the Lebanese to deal with this and to determine a
timeframe, Mitri said. At that moment, Hizballah interpreted
Annan's statement to mean that UNSCR 1701 trumps UNSCR 1559.


MITRI'S INTERPRETATION
IN LIGHT OF THE ELECTIONS


--------------------------





4. (C) Mitri noted that he was surprised to hear Berri's
position that the election of a new president should put to
rest UNSCR 1559. UN Security Council resolutions do not die
off but remain as resolutions, he said, referring to UNSCR
242, which has remained in effect since 1967. Yet he
suggested there could be flexibility in the acceptance of
this position, depending on who the president is. If the
president is clearly March 14, such as Nassib Lahoud, then
the GOL could accept an argument about doing away with UNSCR
1559, sine Lahoud is so clearly committed to Hizballah's
disarmament. However, if the president is someone like MP
Robert Ghanem, seen as less a stalwart of March 14 and a
weaker figure, then the GOL would need to be clear in
preserving UNSCR 1559 to counter Hizballah. Intrigued by the
issue, Mitri concluded by saying he would discuss this with
his diplomats in New York.

FRENCH IDEA TO MITIGATE SYRIAN
DISRUPTION TO ELECTIONS


--------------------------





5. (C) Regarding Syrian involvement in the Lebanese
elections, Mitri assumed the SARG is sitting back, expecting
to be solicited on its choice of a presidential candidate.
That, Mitri says, is how Lebanese presidential elections have
always occurred: the Syrians wait for people to show up in
Damascus to make deals. French FM Bernard Kouchner, in a
recent meeting with Arab dignitaries, reportedly stated his
belief that elections cannot proceed without talking to the

BEIRUT 00001540 002 OF 002


SARG, and that in talking to the Syrians, one needs to be
able to offer rewards. Jordanian FM Abdelelah Al-Khatib told
Mitri that Kouchner suggested delaying the Special Tribunal
on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq
Hariri. This idea strongly offended Saudi Foreign Minister
Prince Saud al-Faisal, who countered that it is necessary to
see the Tribunal's timeline accelerated instead. Following
this meeting, Lebanese Ambassador to the UN Nawwaf Salam
invited French Special Envoy Jean-Claude Cousseran to dinner,
where Cousseran downplayed Kouchner's suggestion.

LEBANESE CONCERNED USG MAY DELAY
ELECTIONS


--------------------------





6. (C) In closing, Mitri relayed a concern that had been
floating around Lebanon, in response to the timing of
Washington's Middle East conference; namely that the U.S. is
focused on regional issues and not on assuring that the
Lebanese presidential elections take place by November 24.
The belief is that the USG needs more time to figure out
regional peace before it can focus on Lebanon's. The
Ambassador assured him this was not the case: the USG is
intensely focused on Lebanon.

COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (C) Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's recent statements on
superseding UNSCR 1559 presumably rests on the issue of
disarmament, with UNSCR 1559 explicitly calling for the
disarmament of all militias, while UNSCR 1701 uses softer
language, stating "no weapons without the consent of the
GOL." We expect March 8 will use this as yet another
unstated veto criterion for March 14 presidential candidates.
FELTMAN