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09PARIS1203 2009-09-03 09:16:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

FRENCH DIPLOMATIC ADVISOR LEVITTE HOSTS AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE FOR AFPAK POLICY DISCUSSION

Tags:   AF CH FR MOPS PK PREL 
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1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: On August 31, Special Representative to
Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and U.S.
Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin met Jean-David Levitte,
Diplomatic Advisor to President Sarkozy, to discuss
Afghanistan and Pakistan. Levitte asserted that the
Government of France (GOF) was reversing its policy of
"benign neglect" towards Pakistan but raised concerns about
the security of Pakistan,s nuclear deterrent. Levitte and
Holbrooke also agreed to approach the Chinese government
separately to seek greater coordination on AfPak policy. END
SUMMARY.

2. (S/NF) Diplomatic Advisor Levitte hosted Ambassador
Holbrooke on August 31 for a discussion about GOF and USG
policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan. Embassy Paris
considers Levitte, a National Security Advisor equivalent and
Holbrooke,s former counterpart at the UN, to be one of the
most important and influential voices within the GOF on
national security policy.

3. (S/NF) Levitte said that President Sarkozy recognized anew
the importance of Pakistan and sought to reverse French
policy of "benign neglect," but that Pakistan remains "an
army in search of a country." He asserted that the Pakistani
army is well regarded by the Pakistani people when not in
power, but that it fails when in power. He further stated
that PM Gilani is currently the "civilian in charge" but does
not now seek the Presidency, nor does Nawaz Sharif, who views
the current turbulent situation as an inopportune time to be
President. As a result, Levitte said that the consensus GOF
view is that the Pakistani government will "remain as-is" in
the near future.

3. (S/NF) Levitte said that he was "more pessimistic" than
the U.S. about Pakistan. He stated that Pakistan has "chosen
Islamicization for generation after generation," and that it
is now a "transformed society"with an educational system
focused on the Koran. Levitte cited A.Q. Khan,s recent
release from house arrest as an issue of concern to the GOF.
Furthermore, he said that the GOF was "not sure that the
Pakistani nuclear deterrent is secure," especially with the
frequent movement of nuclear weapons by the Pakistani
military. He said that the GOF would provide technical
assistance to Pakistan on issues of nuclear safety, but he
firmly stated that the GOF would not supply nuclear energy
technology. Furthermore, Levitte said that Sarkozy,s Chief
of Staff had recently visited Pakistan and informed the
Pakistani government that the GOF would not sell submarines
to Pakistan, but it would provide counter-insurgency training
to boost Pakistani capacities in a niche area of traditional
strength for France.

4. (S/NF) Levitte concurred with Ambassador Holbrooke,s
assessment that China shares the same strategic view of
Pakistan as the U.S. and France, including concerns about
training of terrorists (including Uighurs) in Afghanistan and
Pakistan. Holbrooke and Levitte agreed that they
consequently believed that China should engage more with
international partners on Pakistan, despite its
disinclination to do so, as stated at the recent Friends of
Democratic Pakistan meeting in Turkey. At Holbrooke,s
request, Levitte agreed to raise this issue in his meeting on
September 1 with Chinese Councilor Dai Bingguo; Holbrooke
said that he would re-enforce this message in his meeting
with Councilor Dai in Beijing on September 7-8.

5. (S/NF) On Afghanistan, Levitte said that the GOF would
"take its share of the risks" on security. He asserted that
the French public accepts its military,s mission to bring
stability within two years to the areas where French troops
serve, and that "the public response to the elections has
been good." Levitte also said that, as security
responsibilities around Kabul are transferred to the Afghan
army, the GOF planned to reassign approximately 500 maritime
military positions to RC-East because of "the need for two
strong battalions there." The GOF plans no public
announcement of the shift because "President Sarkozy does not
want a national debate on the number of French troops" in

Afghanistan.

6. (S/NF) Levitte said that the GOF plans to provide 40
million Euros of civilian assistance funding tied to specific
projects in Kapisa and Surobi districts, and that it was
"difficult to get out of its tradition" on assistance. He
added that the GOF remains skeptical of the U.S. approach on
Provincial Reconstruction Teams, but that the GOF is
integrating military-civilian assistance in the provinces "in
its own way," which he did not explain. Levitte said that
France would provide gendarmerie advisors for the European
Gendarmerie Force, and that France and Italy had agreed to
move beyond their recent disagreements in this area, although
they have not integrated (and probably will not integrate)
their respective training programs. Finally, Levitte said
that President Sarkozy planned to visit Afghanistan in the
spring of 2010. (Comment: This is yet another deferral of
Sarkozy,s planned trip to the region, which was originally
planned for the spring of 2009, and which the GOF recently
told Embassy Paris would occur before the end of the year.)

7. (U) Ambassador Holbrooke reviewed and cleared this
message.


RIVKIN