|09PARIS762||2009-06-08 16:42:00||SECRET//NOFORN||Embassy Paris|
VZCZCXRO3385 OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV DE RUEHFR #0762/01 1591642 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 081642Z JUN 09 FM AMEMBASSY PARIS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6409 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 000762
1. (S/NF) Summary: In a June 3 meeting with A/S Gordon, French NSA-equivalent Jean-David Levitte previewed the agenda for the POTUS-President Sarkozy bilat at Normandy. He noted that Sarkozy hoped to use the occasion to announce the appointments of two French general officers to high-level NATO positions. On Russia, Levitte expressed concern that Moscow was trying to whittle away at the commitments it made during the Georgia crisis, especially the presence of international monitors. He noted that Russia was â€œtestingâ€ the Europeans through manufactured crises (e.g., the natural gas crisis) as it tried to reassert control over its traditional sphere of influence. â€œWe need to tell them to be careful, because your behavior risks changing the relationship (between Russia and the West),â€ said Levitte. Gordon observed that while it was comparatively easy for the U.S. and France to maintain a united front in dealing with Russia, the same was not true for all of our European partners. Levitte agreed, adding that the Germans were somewhat divided over how to respond to President Medvedevâ€™s proposals. He emphasized that Russia should pay a political price if it refuses to allow international observers to remain in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Turning to Nagorno-Karabakh, Levitte said there was an opportunity to improve the situation, which in turn might facilitate improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations. On Iran, Levitte noted that the French would pass two messages to Iranian FM Mottaki, who was due in Paris later that same day: First, that things â€œwill end badlyâ€ if Iran presses forward with its nuclear program; second, that Iran faces â€œa historic opportunityâ€ with the U.S. that it must not miss. End summary.
2. (S/NF) Jean-David Levitte was accompanied by Damien Loras, French Presidency Adviser for the Americas. EUR A/S Gordon was accompanied by CDA Pekala and Poloff (notetaker).
3. (S/NF) Levitte began by explaining the French decision not to invite the Germans to the June 6 D-Day commemoration. â€œItâ€™s my fault,â€ said Levitte, who said that President Sarkozy had initially been keen to invite German Chancellor Merkel to participate. â€œI pointed out to the President that if Merkel came, then Sarkozy would be obligated to invite the heads of state of Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic as well.â€ Moreover, all of those leaders would have to be given an opportunity to speak as well, which would lengthen an already long ceremony. The cases of the UK and Canada were exceptional, he added, because both Gordon Brown and Stephen Harper were in such political trouble at home that the survival of their governments was at stake.
4. (S/NF) As for the substance of the POTUS-Sarkozy bilat, Levitte previewed the proposed agenda: Iran, the Middle East peace process, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Russia and its neighbors, and finally a broad discussion of economic issues under the rubric of the G-20 (e.g., the economic crisis, regulation, preparation for the next G-8 meeting, the price of gasoline, and climate issues). Levitte stressed that Sarkozy hoped to announce (preferably in person to the press, but possibly through a written bulletin) on June 3 the names of the two French general officers -- the chiefs of staff of the French Air Force and Navy -- receiving high level NATO commands in Norfolk and Lisbon.
5. (S/NF) Turning to relations with Russia, Levitte suggested that Moscow misconstrued U.S. policy on Georgia. Russian officials seemed to interpret U.S. efforts at improving the atmosphere for talks as a license to walk away from commitments that Sarkozy had extracted from Russia at the height of the Georgia crisis. In specific, Russian obstructionism indicates Moscowâ€™s opposition to the presence of international monitors in Georgia and the breakaway territories. While Levitte conceded that Western relations with Russia should not hinge solely on the Georgian question, he nevertheless pointed to the continued need for a firm, united Western front. He noted that Russia was â€œtestingâ€ the Europeans through manufactured crises (e.g., the natural gas crisis) as it tried to reassert control over its traditional sphere of influence. â€œWe need to tell them to be careful,
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because your behavior risks changing the relationship (between Russia and the West),â€ said Levitte. Gordon agreed that U.S./EU could not afford to be naive in engaging with Russia, and stressed the need for the U.S. and Europe to draw the same red lines in dealing with Moscow. He observed that while it was comparatively easy for the U.S. and France to maintain a united front, the same was not true for all of our European partners. Levitte concurred. He added that the Germans were somewhat divided over how to respond to President Medvedevâ€™s proposals. Alluding to the differences between FM Steinmeier and Chancellor Merkel, Levitte said: â€œItâ€™s as if they have two foreign policies.â€ He emphasized that Russia should pay a political price if it refuses to allow international observers (e.g., UNOMIG and OSCE) to remain present in Abkhazia and South Ossetia: namely, increased Western assistance to Georgia.
6. (S/NF) Levitte returned to the question of international observers, saying that the West should push Russia hard in New York and Geneva to let the observers stay. â€œThey (the Russians) will accept it if we stay strong,â€ Levitte noted, adding that the Russians must understand that they will pay a price for changing the status quo.
7. (S/NF) On NATO expansion, Levitte and Gordon discussed the relative merits of giving Membership Action Plans (MAP) to other Balkan countries but not to Georgia and Ukraine. Levitte suggested that the Russians would see such a policy as â€œa gift,â€ yet he agreed that NATO needed to decide whether to continue with MAP for Ukraine and Georgia or find an alternative mechanism. Levitte proposed eliminating the MAP program altogether, as â€œeach country arrives at membership through its own unique path anyway.â€
8. (S/NF) Levitte said he saw a historic opportunity to make progress on Nagorno-Karabakh and -- although the two are not formally linked -- relations between Turkey and Armenia. Gordon agreed that progress between the latter two was unlikely without movement on Nagorno-Karabakh, a reality the Armenians understood but had difficulty accepting. Levitte suggested that the U.S. and France remain in contact on this issue, with an eye toward a possible meeting on the margins of the informal ministerial at Corfu. On the question of Turkeyâ€™s admission to the EU, Levitte said that the Turks themselves had signaled that the important thing was for the process to continue. Levitte said the French fully agreed, since the EU membership criteria served as an engine for modernizing Turkey.
9. (S/NF) As for the June 3 visit of Iranian FM Mottaki to Paris, Levitte said that Mottaki would be received at the Elysee later that same afternoon. Levitte portrayed Mottakiâ€™s visit as the result of Iranian in-fighting after Iranian President Ahmadinejad took umbrage that Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Khameneiâ€™s diplomatic advisor, had been received in the past by Sarkozy. He noted that the French had already postponed Mottakiâ€™s visit once as a result of Ahmadinejadâ€™s anti-Semitic rant at the Durban II conference in Geneva, which had prompted the French Ambassador and other EU representatives to walk out of the session in protest. Levitte predicted that Mottaki would have nothing meaningful to say, whereas the French would deliver two messages to the Iranians: First, that things â€œwill end badlyâ€ if Iran presses forward with its nuclear program; second, that Iran faces â€œa historic opportunityâ€ with the U.S. that it must not miss. Levitte pledged that France would â€œremain the toughestâ€ U.S. ally when it came to imposing sanctions on Iran, adding that the French had no illusions about how difficult it would be to get the Russians and Chinese to support tougher measures. He suggested that October would be the time to begin drumming up international support for new sanctions, and acknowledged that the Russians would likely try to extract concessions from the West on Georgia and missile defense in exchange.
10. (S/NF) Levitte said that the new Administrationâ€™s policy on Cuba was great. â€œHow can we help?â€ asked Levitte, who noted that Sarkozy would travel to the Caribbean in late June. He added that former French Culture Minister Jack Lang was serving as Sarkozyâ€™s point man on Cuba, and met with Raul Castro during a recent visit to Havana. â€œYour open-handed
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policy is producing some interesting movement inside (the regime),â€ Levitte summarized.
11. (S/NF) Turning to the fate of the Guantanamo (GTMO) detainees, Levitte said that Franceâ€™s acceptance of a first GTMO returnee was not intended to be a one time gesture. To the contrary, the French saw it as the beginning of a process, and they were currently evaluating other candidates as well. However, France would not accept any detainees who posed a threat to French security and would only consider taking those with a legitimate tie to France. Levitte noted that Congressional opposition to the Presidentâ€™s plan to close GTMO had given French authorities less room for maneuver on this subject, as the French public wondered why France should accept detainees who were too dangerous to be transferred to the United States.
12. (U) This cable has been cleared by EUR A/S Philip H. Gordon.