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08MOSCOW3219 2008-11-03 04:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
Cable title:  

DFM SALTANOV ON MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS, LIBYA,

Tags:   PREL RS IS LY SO 
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1. (C) Summary. During an October 31 meeting with the
Ambassador, Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Saltanov
provided a positive assessment of the Egyptian-brokered
Palestinian talks and indicated GOR hopes for concrete
progress at the November 9 meeting between the factions in
Cairo. Calling for resumed talks between Israel and Syria and
between Israel and Lebanon, he pledged continued Russian
support for the Middle East Peace Process and stressed that a
planned Russian-sponsored Middle East conference next year
should only take place if it could move the process forward.
Saltanov characterized Russian-Libyan relations as growing
and promising, but downplayed reports of a potential $2
billion arms sale deal, stating that no major agreements were
expected during Libyan leader Qaddafi's October 31-November 2
visit to Russia. On the Somalia pirate issue, Saltanov
expressed appreciation for the cooperation between the U.S.
and Russian governments and agreed that a long term solution
is tied to the stabilization of the political situation in
Somalia. End Summary.

"Russian Support for the Peace Process Will Never be a
Problem"


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2. (C) In response to the Ambassador's inquiry about the
outcomes the GOR hoped to see from the November 9 Quartet
Foreign Ministers' meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh and the
Egyptian-sponsored talks among the Palestinian factions in
Cairo, Saltanov indicated that Russia would support an
agreement between Hamas and Fatah on ways to create a viable
government for the Palestinian people based on national
consensus, as well as measures to create the right conditions
for presidential and parliamentary elections in the near
future. Noting that all Palestinian factions had expressed a
wish to achieve reconciliation but the task was "truly not
simple," Saltanov said that the GOR nevertheless considered
the process to be moving in a positive direction. He noted
that a Palestinian consensus about governance was especially
important for progress in the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue,
as President Mahmoud Abbas needed a wider support base to
bolster his mandate to negotiate with the Israelis. The
peace process could not move forward without first a
reconciliation among the Palestinian groups.



3. (C) Saltanov indicated that the MFA "in principle" was
still planning for a spring, 2009 Middle East conference that
would continue the Annapolis process. However, he stressed
that the main task was to ensure that such a meeting would be
effective in moving the peace process forward and in leading
all sides to a resolution of the outstanding issues: "We are
not looking to hold a conference just for its own sake." In
this regard, the GOR would support continued talks between
Israel and Syria, as well as efforts to press for progress in
the Israeli-Palestinian track. Although political upheaval
in Israel had led to the suspension of the Turkish-brokered
talks, Saltanov believed that there was still time before the
February elections for Israeli Prime Minister Olmert to
achieve something concrete. Similarly, a resumption of
Israeli-Lebanese talks that moved the parties beyond the
familiar rhetoric was needed. Only when there was movement
in the peace process could a full normalization of relations
between Israel and the Arab world be achieved. Noting that
the United States and Russia have enjoyed a close cooperation
on Middle East issues, Saltanov assured the Ambassador that
"you will never have a problem with Russian support of the
peace process."

Qaddafi in Town but No Major Deals Expected


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4. (C) In response to the Ambassador's inquiry about Libyan
leader Muammar Qaddafi's October 31-November 2 visit to
Moscow, Saltanov indicated that bilateral relations between
Russia and Libya since the removal of UN sanctions had been
growing at a healthy pace. In particular, Vladimir Putin's
April visit to Tripoli, the first by a Russian president, was
noteworthy in the number of commercial agreements signed.
Russian companies currently had a significant presence in the
Libyan market, while technical military cooperation between
the two countries was growing. Bypassing rumors that Qaddafi
was in town to discuss a $2 billion arms sales deal, Saltanov
stated that no significant agreements would result from the
visit, but the bilateral discussions would nevertheless
foster prospects for closer economic and military
cooperation. Asked where the Colonel would pitch his tent,
Saltanov laughed and guessed a patch of land inside the
Kremlin could be found.

MOSCOW 00003219 002.2 OF 002



Somalia Piracy Problem Depended on Solution on Land


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5. (C) Turning to Somalia, Saltanov expressed appreciation
for the U.S.-Russia cooperation with regard to the Faina
situation off the coast of Somalia. Looking toward a
long-term response to the piracy problem in the region, he
agreed with the Ambassador that the solution lay not at sea,
but by supporting efforts to foster effective governance and
combat lawlessness in the region.
BEYRLE