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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
10BEIRUT50 2010-01-19 07:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

PRESIDENT SLEIMAN, SPEAKER BERRI AND WALID

Tags:   PREL PTER UNSC MASS KPAL KJUS ECPS SY IR LE 
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P 190721Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6361
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000050 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2020
TAGS: PREL PTER UNSC MASS KPAL KJUS ECPS SY IR LE
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT SLEIMAN, SPEAKER BERRI AND WALID
JUMBLATT MEET WITH CODEL MCCAIN

Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: An urgent need for progress on regional
peace was the common priority for President Michel Sleiman,
Speaker Nabih Berri, and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt during
their meetings with visiting CODEL McCain on January 8 and 9.
Sleiman sought reassurances that U.S. military assistance
would continue while reiterating Lebanon's support for UNSCR


1701. Berri opined that the Syrian-Lebanese dynamic had
improved recently. Both Sleiman and Berri complained about a
recent House resolution seeking to penalize satellite
stations broadcasting the Hizballah channel al-Manar, and
about additional security measures put in place by TSA for
travelers from Lebanon to the U.S. Jumblatt said regional
peace would aid Lebanon and the Iranian internal opposition,
and he touched on his revised relationship with the Syrian
regime. Senator McCain declared his personal commitment to
peace in Lebanon and his support for continued assistance for
a strong and capable Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). End
Summary.

SLEIMAN: PEACE AND ARMS WILL HELP US


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





2. (C) Regional peace efforts are vital to his country,
Sleiman told visiting Senators John McCain (R-AZ), John
Barrasso (R-WY) and John Thune (R-SD), and the Ambassador on
January 8. Saying that "no one in Lebanon wants aggression
against Israel," Sleiman lauded the success of UN Security
Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701 in keeping the
Lebanese-Israeli border largely calm since 2006. The main
threat to Lebanon and regional peace, according to Sleiman,
is the Palestinians, who must be provided a permanent home
outside of Lebanon as part of any peace deal. Recalling the
LAF's losses in the 2007 Nahr al-Barid conflict, Sleiman
bemoaned the LAF's poor equipment and thanked the delegation
for the U.S. military assistance, which he said should
continue and improve in quality. In response, Senator McCain
stated his commitment to a well-equipped LAF able to control
and defend all Lebanese territory.



3. (C) Turning to regional dynamics, Sleiman said the U.S.
could best assist the Iranian opposition by condemning the
human rights abuses of the Iranian regime while refraining
from offering direct support to the opposition. Giving a
generally positive view of relations with Syria, Sleiman said
President Bashar al-Asad asked him to convey to Senator
McCain that Damascus wants better relations with Washington.
Sleiman also asked for Congressional action on the TSA and
satellite television issues.

BERRI LAUDS RELATIONSHIP WITH SYRIA


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





4. (C) Berri also focused on regional peace issues during his
meeting with CODEL McCain on January 9, and he said a
solution for Palestinian refugees would have to come from
outside Lebanon. While he said that he supported UNSCR 1701,
Berri refused to discuss the issue of Syrian-Iranian arms
smuggling to Hizballah, preferring to concentrate on U.S.
military assistance to Israel. Berri said his country's
relations with Syria were the best since 2005 and that PM
Hariri's visit to Damascus and the opening of embassies in
both capitals demonstrated that the bilateral relationship is
now on a state-to-state basis.

JUMBLATT: "WE CAN'T AFFORD ANOTHER CIVIL WAR"


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





5. (C) Jumblatt argued on January 9 that the search for
comprehensive regional peace and Lebanese stability were
intertwined, and he urged vigorous U.S. involvement. Saying
that he feared for his community and Lebanon as a whole,
Jumblatt justified his rapprochement with the Lebanese
opposition and Syria as a necessary step to avoid further
political and sectarian violence. "We can't afford another
civil war," he said. Despite his move away from the March 14
coalition, Jumblatt expressed hope that the Special Tribunal
for Lebanon "won't be compromised by international politics."



6. (SBU) U.S. participants:

Ambassador Michele Sison
Senator John McCain
Senator John Thune
Senator John Barrasso
Christian Brose, Foreign Affairs Advisor for Senator McCain
Vance Serchuk, Foreign Affairs Advisor for Senator Lieberman

BEIRUT 00000050 002 OF 002


Brooke Buchanan, Press Secretary for Senator McCain
Capt. John Nowell, Military Escort
Joshua Polacheck, poloff (notetaker)



7. (SBU) Lebanese participants in Sleiman meeting:

President Michel Sleiman
Ambassador Nabi Abi Assi, Director General of the Presidency
Three staff members and one notetaker/translator



8. (SBU) Lebanese participants in Berri meeting:

Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri
Ali Hamdan, Press Secretary for Speaker Berri
Five staff members



9. (U) CODEL McCain did not clear this cable.

SISON