2007-06-28 11:15:00
Embassy Paris
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DE RUEHFR #2787/01 1791115
O 281115Z JUN 07
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 PARIS 002787 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2017

Classified By: AMB Craig Stapleton for reasons 1.4 (B & D).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 PARIS 002787



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2017

Classified By: AMB Craig Stapleton for reasons 1.4 (B & D).

1. (C) SUMMARY: In a June 25 meeting on the margins of the
Secretary's visit to Paris -- and prior to the ministerial

meeting that evening on Kosovo -- A/S Fried and Counselor
Cohen discussed Kosovo, Iran, and Russia/CFE with MFA
Political Director Araud. They generally agreed on the three
options dealing with Kosovo's inevitable independence -- A)
the current draft UNSC Resolution likely to be vetoed by
Russia if forced to a vote; B) a "minimalist" UNSCR designed
to legitimize a continuing international presence and prepare
the ground for independence but itself ambiguous on status;
and C) a 120-to-180 day period at the end of which decisions
would be taken on a new UNSCR or proceeding to independence
in the absence of a UNSCR. Araud and Fried differed on
operational "nuances," with Araud arguing for more ambiguity
to bring along the Russians, and A/S Fried stressing the
importance of clarity about independence to reassure the
Kosovars. They agreed that any future negotiations should
probably be under the auspices of the Contact Group to avoid
the creation of "a new Ahtisaari" and to try to gain Russian
buy-in and isolate Serbian PM Kostunica as the obdurate
party. On substance, Fried suggested focusing on
implementation of the Ahtisaari recommendations, with Araud
more receptive to reopening them to some degree to
demonstrate that the negotiations were real. There was a
brief discussion of how to respond in the event of Kosovar
UDI. A/S Fried stressed the importance of firm rejection of
any Russian attempts to link Kosovo's independence to

recognition of Abkhazia.

2. (C) In a discussion with Counselor Cohen on Iran, Araud
supported an additional UNSC Resolution on financial
sanctions, while complaining about lack of U.S. coordination
in tabling its latest draft. In response to the Counselor's
presentation on Iranian machinations, Araud argued that
Hizballah at times in some respects was playing by the rules
of the "Lebanese political game" and that Iran's role there
was not necessarily nefarious. Arguing the necessity for
France of engaging Iran as a means of influencing the
situation in Lebanon, he also objected to the U.S.
characterization of Hizballah as a terrorist organization.

3. (C) On CFE, worried that Russia's suspension of its CFE
obligations could take on a life of its own, the French
argued for a new initiative: agreement to negotiate a new
treaty to prevent what they saw as a risk of de facto
unraveling of the CFE regime that would free Russia to deploy
forces anywhere on its territory. A/S Fried cautioned
against rewarding the Russians for bad behavior and said that
any new negotiations would need to be based on continuing
compliance with the existing treaty during that time. He
noted that Russia, at least for the moment, appeared
comfortable with the offensive tactic of controlled
confrontation with the West. END SUMMARY.

4. (SBU) Accompanied by the Ambassador, EUR A/S Fried and
Counselor Cohen met June 25 with MFA Political Director
Gerard Araud on the margins of the Secretary's June 24-26
visit to Paris. Araud was accompanied by his Deputy
Veronique Bujon-Barre, AS-equivalent for Strategic Affairs
Philippe Carre and a desk officer, FM Kouchner cabinet
advisor Philippe Errera, and executive assistant Gael
Veyssiere. NSC Senior Director Bradley, DCM and POL Deputy
(notetaker) joined on the U.S. side.

Kosovo Options

5. (C) Citing President Sarkozy's remarks at the G8 Summit
in Germany, Araud said France viewed Kosovo's independence as
inevitable, foresaw a six-month negotiation period between
the parties to attempt to come to additional understandings,
and was prepared to recognize Kosovo's independence at the
end of the six-month period come what may. It would also
seek the support of other EU member states for this approach,
including recognition of Kosovo's independence when the time

6. (C) A/S Fried responded that the French position as
described by Araud formed a solid basis upon which to prepare
that day's later ministerial meeting on Kosovo. He then
recapitulated the three-option plan as presented the previous
day with Presidential Diplomatic Advisor Jean-David Levitte:
(A) Determine whether the Russians will refuse the current
draft UNSC Resolution based on Sarkozy's idea of independence
after four to six months of negotiations; A/S Fried assured

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Araud that the U.S. would not force a vote on the UNSCR and
risk a Russian veto without prior coordination with the
Europeans; (B) Pursue a "minimalist" UNSCR aimed at
legitimizing the presence of the EU and the International
Office (IO),and possibly NATO if UNSCR 1244 was considered
insufficient for this purpose, combined with four to six
months of negotiations at the end of which there would be
recognition; and (C) if it turned out that no UNSCR would be
possible, four to six months of negotiations would commence,
with a final attempt being made at the end of that period
either to pass a final UNSCR and proceed immediately with or
without a UNSCR to recognition. A/S Fried judged that while
we were currently following plan (A),we would likely need to
move to plan (B) following Putin's meeting with the President
at Kennebunkport.

Engaging the Russians

7. (C) Araud agreed that prospects for plan (A) were dim,
given Russian UNSC PermRep Churkin's contemptuous rejection
of the current draft UNSCR. He nonetheless held out hope
that plan (B) might still be achievable, given that the
Russians had discerned some moves in their direction, even if
they were deemed insufficient, and that it had rejected a
four-month negotiating period as too short. Araud informed
A/S Fried that he planned to travel to Moscow July 2-4 to
engage the Russians in further discussions. So far the
Russians had not engaged, but he had called Russian
Ambassador to Paris Avdeyev to urge him not to view diplomacy
as a zero-sum game, to extol the virtues of constructive
ambiguity, and stress the importance of political will to
compromise. But he had received no response.

8. (C) A/S Fried assured Araud that the U.S. could accept
plan (B),which would provide an umbrella for the
international presence and set the stage for subsequent
recognition. He urged caution, however, in exploring a
minimalist UNSCR with the Russians, lest they attempt to
insert "poison pill" language that would effectively exclude
a change of status for Kosovo. Ambiguity was acceptable,
unless of course they actually were prepared to take a more
positive approach. Araud agreed that the question to be
answered was whether the Russians would be prepared "to play
the diplomatic game" of accelerating ambiguity. He agreed
with A/S Fried that it was unlikely the Kennebunkport meeting
would lead to Russian acceptance of plan (A).

Need to Reassure Kosovars Also

9. (C) A/S Fried reminded Araud that managing the next four
to six months also meant maintaining the confidence of the
Kosovars, who would be willing to accept further delay only
if it was accompanied by clarity and Western unity with
regard to the end result of independence. An absence of
clarity could equally lead to panic and disorder, even
disintegration if the Kosovars came to believe the West was
deceiving them and reopening the Ahtisaari findings.
Operationally, it would be important that the June 25
informal meeting of ministers on Kosovo produce an agreement
that plans (A),(B),and (C) were acceptable only so long as
the bottom line remained that independence was unavoidable
and without more delay. The difficulty was that this message
also needed to be conveyed to the Kosovars, which
contradicted the goal of bringing along the Russians through
ambiguity. A/S Fried reminded Araud -- citing the
President's and Secretary's statements -- that U.S. policy
has been to tell the Kosovars clearly that they would achieve
independence, and be recognized by the U.S. and key European

10. (C) Thinking aloud, Araud wondered whether it might be
best to take national approaches to Kosovo's independence:
France could rely on Sarkozy's statement, just as the U.S.
could cite the President and the Secretary. But he saw a
problem in the putative dilemma -- which he said FM Kouchner
had raised with the Secretary -- of claiming simultaneously
that negotiations were real and that they would produce a
specific outcome. A/S Fried reiterated the importance of
assuring the Kosovars that they would achieve independence in
the end. Araud, noting the difference of "nuance" in the
U.S. and French positions, suggested that time would tell
whether it would be possible to have it both ways.
Suggesting that the U.S. could afford to take a less
"constrained" view, he reiterated that France saw a need to
try to keep Russia on board with the promise of "real"

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negotiations without a pre-determined outcome. A/S Fried
reiterated that it was enough for now for France simply to
repeat that independence was unavoidable, suggesting it would
be possible to avoid saying now what would happen in the
event of a Russian veto. For his part, he would respond to
questions by saying that the President's views were well
known, that Sarkozy had called independence unavoidable, and
that the U.S. hoped to negotiate a UNSCR.


11. (C) Carre noted that timing needed to be considered in
addition to the substance of the message, arguing against
being too clear too soon with respect to plans (B) and (C).
A/S Fried responded that the Kosovars had already panicked
over Sarkozy's original message, despite its clear
identification of the end result. He repeated that the
tension would remain between more ambiguity, which was good
for Russia, and a more dangerous situation on the ground in
the absence of clarity. Turning to the evening ministerial
meeting, he assured Araud that word of the meeting would
inevitably leak, and that it was therefore important to have
a message ready. Araud said he would check with the
Presidency, suggesting again that citing Sarkozy's earlier
statement would probably be the recommended course of action.


12. (C) Araud asked how Fried envisioned the upcoming
negotiation period, noting that the U.S. had said it wished
to keep Ahtisaari "in the loop." A/S Fried clarified that
Ahtisaari wanted "a" role in the process, but did not wish to
run it himself. Araud suggested that the negotiations could
perhaps proceed under the auspices of the Contact Group, at
the end of which it could call the two parties to Vienna for
a final round of mediation. But other questions remained:
who would lead the negotiations?, or, should the final
conference last one day or occur in Rambouillet format?
Making clear he was only thinking aloud, A/S Fried said it
would be important to involve the U.S. to assure the
Kosovars, and the Europeans to bring along the EU. (He added
that he was considering travel to Pristina in July to discuss
next steps with the Kosovars, and told Araud he would want to
coordinate with him on the public message he should convey
about the European position.) Since it would also be
important to isolate Serbian President Kostunica, it might
also be necessary to include the Russians.

13. (C) Araud wondered again who should mediate the
negotiations, agreeing with Fried indirectly that they should
occur under the auspices of the Contact Group. At the same
time, he thought it would be impractical for all six Contact
Group reps to shuttle between Belgrade and Pristina. A/S
Fried said he preferred a group approach, since it was
important to avoid creating "a new Ahtisaari." Araud
appeared to agree. Fried reminded Araud that the Serbs or
Kosovars might be tempted to walk away from the negotiations
at some point.


14. (C) On the substance of the negotiations, A/S Fried said
it would be important not to re-open the Ahtisaari
compromises, but perhaps they could focus on the timing and
means of implementing them. Noting Putin's predilection for
"surprises," he speculated that he would arrive in
Kennebunkport with a Serbian proposal for new negotiations.
Araud argued that reopening the Ahtisaari recommendations
should not be excluded a priori, since they focused primarily
on minority protections and took no position on independence.
He asked whether a "Taiwan model" consisting of one country
with two systems and no UNSC seat for Kosovo might be a way
out. A/S Fried responded that postponing a UN seat for
Kosovo could perhaps be part of a solution.


15. (C) Araud asked A/S Fried how the U.S. would respond if
Kosovo did not accept U.S. advice and moved to a unilateral
declaration of independence (UDI). A/S Fried assured Araud
that the U.S. continued to advise the Kosovars against UDI.
If they nonetheless did declare independence, he conceded
that this would put the USG under pressure to recognize

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Kosovo, although recognition would not be automatic. How the
U.S. responded would depend at least in part on how the
Europeans planned to respond.

Abkhazia Linkage

16. (C) Araud noted that a six-month negotiating period
would move final decisions past the Duma elections and
speculated that this might make things easier for the
Russians. A/S Fried responded that the Russians were still
making linkages to Abkhazia. It was not clear at this stage
whether they were bluffing, but it would behoove the West to
make clear to the Russians that recognition of Abkhazia was
unacceptable and to support Georgian President Saakashvili.
Failure to provide such support could force the Georgians to
send troops to Abkhazia in the face of a likely provocation
from the Abkhaz side, for instance the expulsion of ethnic
Georgians. The Russians should not be permitted to become
"revisionist and revanchist." Araud commented that they were
already clearly revisionist.


17. (C) Counselor Cohen, noting that he had discussed the
Iranian nuclear program that same morning with Secretary
General for National Defense Francis Delon, said the U.S. saw
an Iranian hand in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, and now Afghanistan.
He said the U.S. intended now to push for further sanctions
against Iran given that they appeared to be having some
effect. Araud characterized the most recent meeting between
EU High Rep Solana and Iranian negotiator Larijani as a "new
failure," saying that the Iranians were now trying to reverse
conditionality and put the onus on the West to take the first
step. (He agreed that a third UNSC Resolution on sanctions
was necessary, while using the occasion to complain that the
U.S. had not consulted with France and the UK prior to
tabling its latest. France would have liked to include
sanctions against individuals, and also believed that Russia
and China would not accept U.S. language on restricting
Iranian access to international financial institutions.)
Araud said France was on board for additional sanctions
outside the UN framework, although getting there would
involve a complicated interagency process. He reminded A/S
Fried that some financial sanctions would fall under EU
competence, where Germany and Italy were likely to resist.

France Fixed on Lebanon

18. (C) Araud told Counselor Cohen that France viewed Iran
in large part through the prism of Lebanon, where its
influence was judged to be not entirely negative. He
described Iranian policy -- unlike Syria's -- as focused
primarily on giving the Shia more power via Hizballah, in a
way that respected the "Lebanese political game" and was not
always destructive. Hizballah, he asserted, had accepted
UNSCR 1701 at Iran's urging, even if Iran continued to
smuggle weapons to Hizballah. The Syrians, not the Iranians,
were behind the recent rocket attacks on Israel originating
from southern Lebanon. He judged that Hizballah had no
interest in inflaming southern Lebanon, given that the
Hizballah-Israel conflict of summer 2006 had undermined its
standing with its main constituency. Hizballah's main goal,
he insisted, was simply to obtain a larger share of the power
within Lebanon. If Arab League Secretary General Amr
Moussa's recent mediation had failed, this was not because of
Hizballah but Nabih Berri, "the voice of Syria."

Engaging with Hizballah

19. (C) Araud judged that there was no alternative to
engaging with Hizballah, given that it had legitimate
grievances and that the central power had long ignored
southern Lebanon. It was thus also necessary to engage with
Iran, even if it was not entirely trustworthy. There was an
opening with respect to Lebanon, and France believed that
Iran was promoting the welfare of the Shia rather than war.
Counselor Cohen reminded Araud that Hizballah, supported by
Iran, was behind attacks on Israeli interests and that Iran
was active against U.S. interests in Iraq and NATO interests
in Afghanistan. Nor did the U.S. believe that Hizballah was
committed to preserving the integrity of the Lebanese state;
a parallel state with its own institutions was not
acceptable. He reminded Araud that the U.S. also viewed

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Hizballah as a terrorist organization.

20. (C) Araud claimed that Hizballah was last implicated in
a terrorist act in Buenos Aires in 1994, and not since, and
asked whether the U.S. had new information. Counselor Cohen
assured him that Iran was working against the West in the
Middle East, even if it was patient and disciplined. Araud
said France viewed Iran as taking advantage of a situation in
the Middle East rather than being engaged in a general
offensive; it was a brutal regime ready to exploit a given
situation. The U.S. intervention in Iraq was a gift to Iran,
he said, destroying the Sunni rampart against the Persians.
Araud described Lebanon as Iran's last hope for exporting its
Islamic Revolution, and suggested that Iran was acting
counter to its own interests in supporting the Taliban in
Afghanistan ("we destroyed their worst enemy").

21. (C) Counselor Cohen argued that the Iranian presence in
southern Iraq was already extensive before the Iraq
intervention, and noted that the Iranians appeared willing to
work with extremist Sunnis as well as Shia. Araud asked
whether the U.S. distinguished between the Iranian government
and the IRGC; Cohen responded that the IRGC was not a rogue
actor. Araud asked why the Iranians did not remain quiet
until the Shia majority assumed power in Iraq; Cohen
responded that Iran had broader hegemonic aspirations, and
that generational change was also hardening the Iranian
position. Araud commented twice that the Iranians appeared
to believe time was on their side.

Russia - CFE

22. (C) Carre worried that the Russian "suspension" of its
CFE obligations had set in train a process that had taken on
a life of its own and could no longer be arrested. He was
doubtful that Russia would ever take sufficient steps (toward
implementation of its Istanbul commitments) that would allow
the U.S. to proceed toward ratification of the adapted Treaty
(A/CFE). This could easily lead to the de facto unraveling
of the CFE treaty within the next year and a half. France
viewed the treaty as a minimum assurance for stability, and
did not wish to see Russia in a position to deploy troops on
its territory at will and without transparency. Russia was
becoming increasingly unpredictable, with negative
implications for Missile Defense (MD),Georgia-NATO
relations, and possibly even Kaliningrad. He argued that it
was time to consider new ideas, such as opening the treaty to
accession by new members in advance of ratification, or
negotiations on a revamped Treaty.

23. (C) A/S Fried questioned whether France was in favor of
renegotiating the Treaty even if Russia withdrew. He also
asked whether any renegotiation would be contingent on Russia
remaining within the current Treaty. He cautioned that any
negotiation should not legitimize what was in fact a
unilateral Russian breach of the treaty, noting that there
was a risk that long negotiations would leave the Russians
without real constraints over a period of years. Carre took
A/S Fried's points but insisted that there was a need to move
rapidly -- in the next six to nine months -- to prevent
Russia from doing something irreversible. Fried repeated
that Russia would need to be in compliance with the Treaty
before any negotiations could commence. He feared that
Russia was not truly interested in negotiations, however, and
that Putin was tempted to renounce the Treaty for political
reasons. Araud and Carre cited Russian paranoia about
encirclement; Fried countered by noting the Russian
proclivity for basing relationships with neighbors on fear
and domination.

24. (C) Araud suggested that the Allies might need to take
legal steps if the Russians were in breach of the treaty,
with Carre interjecting that clarifying the situation was not
in anyone's political interest. Fried repeated that it was
the Russians who would likely be shortly in breach of the
treaty, whether this was stated publicly or not. He proposed
that Allies negotiate among themselves on next steps and be
prepared to respond firmly. Araud lamented that a Russian
decision to withdraw from the treaty would be extremely
negative for the Europeans; "we would have to go back to
spying." A/S Fried suggested that the Russians appeared to
be comfortable in a controlled confrontation with the West.

25. (U) This message was cleared by A/S Fried.

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