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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09VIENNA503 2009-04-28 06:47:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vienna
Cable title:  

CDA, UNVIE AMB. SCHULTE DISCUSS ASAD VISIT WITH GOA

Tags:   PREL IAEA PHUM PARM SY AU 
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1. (C) Summary: Charge Kilner and Ambassador Schulte met
April 24 with Johannes Kyrle, MFA SecGen, and (separately)
with Alfons Kloss, President Fischer's diplomatic advisor, to
discuss Syrian President Asad's April 27-28 visit to Vienna.
Charge stressed that the visit should be viewed as an
opportunity to press Asad to support regional peace and
stability, cut off support for terrorist organizations, and
address Syria's deteriorating human rights situation. He
said the USG believes progress on the EU-Syria Association
Agreement should be tied to Syrian actions. Schulte
emphasized that President Fischer and FM Spindelegger should
raise Syria's secret nuclear program in their meetings with
Asad. He said Asad would try to avoid the issue, but the
international community needs to maintain pressure on Syria
to cooperate with the investigation of the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Austrians indicated broad
agreement with the joint U.S. presentation, reporting that
their own briefing materials for the visit, which also
includes a strong commercial component, were similar to the
U.S. points. They also stated that the GOA had coordinated
closely with the government of Slovakia, where Asad will
travel after Vienna. End Summary.

Visit an "Opportunity" to Press Asad


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





2. (C) Drawing on points provided in Ref email, Charge told
Kloss and Kyrle that Syria could potentially play a
constructive role in the Middle East. Its actions impact a
number of shared U.S. and European priorities in the region,
including stability in Iraq, Arab-Israeli peace, an
independent Lebanon, counterterrorism, and non-proliferation.
The U.S. Administration is open to engagement with the
Syrian government, but engagement is a tool for influencing
Syria's behavior, not an end in itself. If the U.S. and
Europe both use engagement to press Syria to make more
responsible choices, the chances of success will be greater.
President Asad's visit to Vienna is an opportunity to press
the Syrian leader to support peace and stability in the
region, cut off support for terrorist organizations, and end
the harassment of opposition leaders and civil rights
activists at home. Charge stressed that the U.S. believes
progress on the EU-Syria Association Agreement should be tied
to Syrian actions in addressing these concerns.



3. (C) Kloss and Kyrle replied that they also view the Asad
visit as an opportunity to influence Syrian behavior. They
noted that President Fischer traveled to the Middle East
often and was familiar with U.S. and EU concerns regarding
Syria. They averred that the briefing papers for Fischer and
FM Spindelegger closely track the points raised by Charge.
However, MFA Middle East Director Ralph Scheide, who joined
the meeting with Kloss, said the EU-Syria Association
Agreement would soon be submitted to the European Council for
approval. He said he believes there is an increasing
readiness among EU members to move forward with the
agreement, though progress will probably require some
positive action on Syria's part.

Secret Nuclear Program Should Be Raised


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





4. (C) Ambassador Schulte emphasized that Asad wants to
ignore the IAEA investigation of Syria's clandestine nuclear
program, but the U.S. and European allies need to continue to
press the issue. The U.S. is confident that the facility
destroyed by Israeli forces in the Syrian desert in September
2007 was a nuclear reactor modeled after North Korea's
Yongbyon reactor. He showed the GOA officials pictures
revealing how the Syrians had tried to disguise the facility
and bury it after the attack. He said the USG believes the
facility was built with North Korean assistance and that,
like the Yongbyon reactor, it was well configured to produce
plutonium.



5. (C) Schulte said IAEA inspectors had been permitted to
access the site once, and had found uranium particles. But
the Syrian government has refused a follow-up visit, and has
declined to answer questions from the IAEA on the matter.
Since Asad has publicly claimed the facility was not a
reactor, the Syrians want to avoid discussing the issue.



6. (C) Schulte said the reactor, now buried beneath tens of
meters of earth, will not be re-activated. But the

VIENNA 00000503 002 OF 002


international community needs to make sure the IAEA follows
through on its investigation. IAEA inspectors need to
confirm what was taking place at the site, and to ensure that
Syria is not engaged in other undeclared activities
elsewhere. Moreover, Syria and North Korea must be dissuaded
from pursuing a similar program in the future. It is
important that the U.S. and EU stick together to pursue this
goal.



7. (C) Kloss and Kyrle said GOA leaders would raise the IAEA
investigation with Asad. Scheide later showed Schulte
Fischer's briefing memo, which included points on the
investigation.

Commercial Component


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



8 (C) Asad is bringing a business delegation of about 60 with
him, and our interlocutors made it clear that the commercial
agenda will be as important in the visit as the political.
KILNER