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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08PARIS1853 2008-10-07 17:31:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

GENERAL PETRAEUS DISCUSSES AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN,

Tags:   PREL MOPS FR AF PA SY LE IR 
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FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4443
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 0593
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 0379
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 0772
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0691
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
					  S E C R E T PARIS 001853 

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2018
TAGS: PREL MOPS FR AF PA SY LE IR
SUBJECT: GENERAL PETRAEUS DISCUSSES AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN,
SYRIA, IRAN AND PIRACY WITH FRENCH OFFICIALS

Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Kathleen Allegrone, for rea
sons 1.4(b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary. During a September 25-26 visit to Paris to
receive military honors, General David Petraeus met with
French interlocutors including DefMin Herve Morin, PM Franois
Fillon, Secretary-General of the MFA Gerard Errera
(D-equivalent) and President Sarkozy's diplomatic advisor
Jean-David Levitte, as well as military leaders. French
officials were interested in the progress of
counter-insurgency efforts in Iraq and in new initiatives
that might work in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. The
GOF, which is fully committed to Afghanistan, continues to
confront weak public support and a divided parliament. Paris
views the situation in Pakistan as "more than difficult" and
hopes that Zardari's statements of support to battle the
insurgents in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas will
translate into action. French officials insist they are "not
naive" on Syria and expect Damascus to meet clear benchmarks
in response to French overtures. Iran remains the
pre-eminent security threat and France is continuing efforts
in the EU and nationally to apply economic pressure to comply
with non-proliferation requirements. Piracy off the horn of
Africa remains a major policy issue for the French government
and they welcome NATO interest in continuing efforts to
attract naval assets to combat this problem. The French have
gone as far as to propose the international legal framework
for their anti-piracy efforts. (Embassy Comment: One of
President Sarkozy's advisors subsequently informed us that
the visit of General Petraeus was very valuable and resulted
in a briefing to the President that the situation in Iraq had
improved and it was now time for France to invest there.)
End Summary.



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


IRAQ


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





2. (C/NF) In every meeting, as in his speech to the
international military students at the Ecole Militaire,
General Petraeus shared with interlocutors his views of the
evolving situation in Iraq and the dramatic progress in
overall security that is demonstrable in recent months. He
attributed progress of the surge to an overall effort that
mobilized and coordinated all elements of national power,
including security, intelligence, economic assistance,
information, diplomatic and political actions. He
consistently noted that a purely military solution is not an
option, but establishing security is the first requirement
before other progress will occur. His interlocutors were
impressed by his command of the situation and the charts
which clearly demonstrated progress. He was particularly
clear in discussion with DefMin Morin, who appeared unaware
of the improvement in the overal situation. When Morin
acknowledged that the source of his pessimism was Saudi and
other Gulf State interlocutors, Petraeus firmly and
effectively countered what he termed was misinformation based
on reporting by Sunni, former Baathist exiles with no
interest in seeing Iraq succeed. He strongly urged Morin and
others in France to seek better informed sources. Ambassador
Stapleton commented during the meeting that it is important
for France to have a good understanding of the progress
Iraqis have made, supported by the coalition, since we will
face different challenges in Afghanistan together. Petraeus
commented in each of his meetings that while many lessons
have been learned in Iraq and some may be of use in
Afghanistan, we must also understand that Afghanistan
presents its unique set of challenges. As examples, he
mentioned Afghanistan's lack of human and natural resources
and the absence of a tradition of central government
authority outside the major cities. He also cautioned that
despite significant progress in Iraq, the situation remains
fragile. Basically, in Iraq we are rebuilding; in
Afghanistan we are starting from scratch. In each meeting,
Petraeus stressed that he is not in command of US CENTCOM
until October 31. His initial findings, however, led him to
believe that a comprehensive approach to the Afghan issues
will be important; that he fully agreed on the need to
develop good intelligence; and he stressed the success of
intelligence fusion operations in Iraq as a potential model.
He also noted that counter-insurgency tactics that worked in
Iraq may well need to be modified to meet the very different
needs of the very different situation in Afghanistan.




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


AFGHANISTAN


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





3. (C) In every meeting, Petraeus expressed condolences for
the loss of 10 French soldiers in Afghanistan in August, an
issue that was much on the political leaders' minds. Errera
noted that the September 22 vote to reauthorize the French
mission in Afghanistan was a success, but added that the
decision of the Socialist Party to vote "no" rather than
abstain, marked the first time in French history that there
was public disunity on a military deployment. (Embassy
comment: The French parliamentary vote was a historic first,
as prior to this summer's constitutional revisions, the
parliament had no authority to pronounce on troop
deployments. Parliament now has the right to reauthorize a
military mission four months after a deployment, but still
cannot modify the deployment in anyway). While Errera and
Levitte both emphasized that President Sarkozy is "absolutely
committed" to Afghanistan, the debate and vote showed that
the broader political spectrum remains uncertain over the
level of French involvement there. Errera noted that public
support for the war in Afghanistan is low in other European
countries as well, making it imperative to focus on more than
just a "military solution." Petraeus reiterated that a
purley military solution is not possible. Errera stated, in
particular, the major challenge is to ensure that ISAF is not
viewed as an "occupying force." Levitte added that
two-thirds of the French population don't understand why
their troops are serving so far away, but on the other hand
massive public support exists for helping the Afghan people.
General Petraeus agreed that a comprehensive approach is
necessary, but stated that improving security in Afghanistan
is a prerequisite to allow for political and economic
development.



4. (C) Levitte and Errera also urged further efforts at
"national reconciliation" in Afghanistan. There was also
broad French interest in some of the tactics used to counter
the insurgency in Iraq and the various interlocutors inquired
whether similar measures would be effective in Afghanistan.
Levitte and Errera both regretted President Karzai's weak
political position, with Levitte stating that Karzai is
losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the population.
"Corruption is the sin of his government," Levitte stated,
observing that Karzai has failed to get out of Kabul and take
reconciliation dialogue directly to the tribes. Levitte
agreed that Kai Eide,s leadership has not been "all that it
might be" to bring the disparate elements together, but
stressed that it is Karzai who is the main disappointment.
Errera also asked for USG suggestions on how to improve
coodination at the political level, given President Karzai's
reluctance to have a strong representative of the
international community. DefMin Morin questioned the wisdom
of NATO considering acquiring AWACS surveillance aircraft for
the theater when the funds could be better spent improving
the situation for the Afghans themselves. He argued that we
would do better to put our money into quickly building up the
Afghan army and police and other institutions. Morin also
highlighted the problems caused by air strikes leading to
civilian casualties.



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


PAKISTAN: "MORE THAN DIFFICULT"


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





5. (S/NF) Errera observed that the current situation in
Pakistan is "more than difficult" and that the instability
there was becoming a regional problem. The GOF was
disappointed that the attempt to put the ISI intelligence
service under civilian control had lasted "only a couple of
hours." Petraeus responded, as he did in other meetings,
that we had confidence in General Kayani, who understood the
threat that the safe havens in the Federally Administered
Tribal Areas posed to the security of Pakistan.
Unfortunately, the Pakistani military had been trained to
fight a conventional war with India rather than a
sophisticated counter-insurgency on their own territory. The
Pakistanis want to "do it themselves" and are resisting
having outside countries be seen as helping too much. Levitte
mentioned that Sarkozy met with Zardari in New York on the
margins of UNGA. Levitte,s personal opinion of Zardari is

that he was a little better than reported, but the bar was
set pretty low. That said, Zardari says the right things,
including declaring his determination to fight the Taliban
who he blames for his wife,s death. Levitte regretted that
the trip by Sarkozy,s military advisor, Admiral Guillaud, to
Pakistan had been delayed because of the Somali piracy
issues, but assured Petraeus that France wanted to stay in
close touch on the issue and to carry the same message.
(Note: The trip was rescheduled to begin October 4). The
declining Pakistani economic situation also preoccupied
French officials, with one interlocutor commenting that the
Marriott hotel bombing will only hurt future investment and
drives home the need for security.




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


SYRIA: PARIS "NOT NAIVE"


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





6. (S/NF) Errera emphasized that the GOF is "not naive"
regarding Syria and that it is evaluating carefully whether
overtures on the French side yield visible actions by the
Syrians. He said Syria must demonstrate results in Lebanon
and Israel, noting that if the Israelis could talk to the
Syrians through Turkey, then France should be able to have a
dialogue with the Syrians as well. They were interested to
hear whether the USG believed that Syria's actions with
regard to Iraq have improved. In response, Petraeus noted
that while we had witnessed an improvement in some areas,
such as a decline in foreign fighters entering Iraq from
Syria, these improvements were more accurately due to
Coalition actions in damaging their infrastructure than to
actions taken by Damascus.



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


IRAN:


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





7. (S/NF) For Paris, Iran,s quest for nuclear arms is the
number one preoccupation and threat to world peace. Levitte
stated bluntly that the sanctions process at the UNSC is
"going nowhere," but France continues to work with the US and
EU-3 to strengthen actions. They are now working to raise
the costs for insurance companies doing business with Iraq
and they are interested in eliminating the transfer of some
spare parts for oil refineries. Levitte acknowledged that
this is a slow process, but said that we have to make clear
to Ahmedinejad that social unrest is a time bomb and his
policy of developing nuclear capability is limiting his
ability to address social issues.



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


PIRACY: A HOT TOPIC IN PARIS


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





8. (C/NF) Levitte emphasized the importance Sarkozy and his
government attach to dealing with the pirates operating off
the coast of Somalia. He recalled that France had begun to
address the issue when it began escorting WFP (World Food
Program) vessels; they were incensed that the pirates were
attacking food shipments destined for the poor of Somalia and
he pledged that France would continue its efforts. More
recently there had been an attack on French ships, which
resulted in successful military rescue operations and capture
of the criminals. Levitte noted that since January, 55 ships
have been taken by the pirates who take hostages and seek
money for ransom. Much of the shipping from Asia to Europe
(48,000 ships per year, according to the French) transits the
area under attack, as do tankers.



9. (C/NF) To address the issue, France has been active in
securing two UNSC resolutions and is pressing for a third.
The first two provide for the legal framework for action.
Now they are trying to help the EU build a naval capacity
that can escort the transiting ships. Unfortunately, they
have run up against unwelcome opposition in the form of the
ship owners, who prefer to pay the ransoms using insurance
money. Levitte quipped that if the insurance companies are
paying these vast sums, perhaps we should go to them to fund
the escorts. Moreover, the pirates use the ransom money to
purchase ever more sophisticated arms and they use the
captured ships as "mother ships" or platforms from which to
operate, allowing them to range effectively as far as 700

miles from the Somali coast. The EU alone cannot deal with
this problem and France welcomes NATO review of the issue.
Strategic Affairs Advisor Francois Richier noted that the
issue of pursuit onto land was solved when the Somali leader
agreed to support the UN resolutions. Now, France is
exploring a cascading list of possible actions, ranging from:
allowing civilian ships to arm themselves; recruiting
additional EU ships to escort as a deterrent; encouraging
CTF-150 to perform general surveillance; or securing
additional counter-piracy capabilities through NATO if the
Alliance so decides. He also clarified that the GOF does
have authority to attack if the pirates threaten shipping and
French plans call for escorting the pirated vessel to
Djibouti, releasing the crew and sending the pirates to
France for judicial handling.



10. (U) This message was cleared by General David Petraeus.



STAPLETON