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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07PARIS2743 2007-06-26 15:03 2010-12-01 21:09 SECRET Embassy Paris

DE RUEHFR #2743/01 1771542
O 261542Z JUN 07
S E C R E T PARIS 002743 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/14/2017 

REF: A) PARIS 2208 (NOTAL) B) PARIS 2257 (NOTAL) C) 

Classified By: Ambassador Craig R. Stapleton, Reason 1.4 B/D 

1. (U) June 12, 2007, 8:30 P.M. 

2. (U) Participants 

Under Secretary Burns 
Ambassador Stapleton 
P Staff Bame 
Pol Recinos (notetaker) 

MFA Political Director Gerard Araud 
Elysee Strategic Affairs Advisor Francois Richier 
Elysee Americas Advisor Damien Loras 
MOD Diplomatic Advisor Frederic Mondoloni 
FM Cabinet Advisor Philippe Errera 
Political Director's Staff Gael Veyssiere 

3. (S) Summary: U/S Burns and Political Director Gerard Araud 
met June 12 for a lengthy discussion of key bilateral issues, 
including Colombia hostages, Russia (MD and CFE), NATO 
enlargement/Georgia, Iran, Lebanon/Syria, Afghanistan, and 
Turkey/EU. Araud emphasized the new, more positive tone in 
the U.S.-French relationship since Sarkozy's election to the 
Presidency and affirmed that France would seek to avoid 
airing disagreements in public. Prior to the meeting, Burns 
and Araud exchanged information on the status of French and 
U.S. hostages in Colombia and agreed to consult in Paris and 
Bogota. Araud cited recent unhelpful Russian statements on 
Missile Defense and CFE deployments as indicative of Russia's 
bluntly assertive foreign policy. Sarkozy, said Araud, is 
seeking a positive relationship with Putin while at the same 
time pressing him without immediate success on human rights 
and Chechnya. Araud suggested that, on CFE, Russia might be 
justified in questioning the U.S. troop presence in the 
Balkans. The challenge is to find a middle way between 
complacency and confrontation in dealing with Putin and the 
new Russia, Araud emphasized. Burns and Araud agreed on 
continued public support for Georgian President Sakaashvili, 
while cautioning him against provoking the Russians. France, 
however, maintained strong doubts as to whether Georgia has 
an eventual vocation as a member of NATO. Burns pushed back, 
reminding Araud that we needed to safeguard democratic 
principles in Europe by being more inclusive. 

4. (C) Summary cont'd: Araud agreed with Burns on Iran's 
non-compliance with UNSC resolutions, and on the need for an 
additional resolution and sanctions outside the UNSC. Burns 
stated that a diplomatic resolution was still possible and 
biting sanctions likely were necessary to achieve that end. 
The French registered Burns' statements that the United 
States had proof that Iran was providing arms in Iraq, to the 
Taliban in Afghanistan, and to Hizballah in Lebanon. French 
Presidency advisors, however, cautioned that the evidence was 
not yet strong enough in Lebanon to justify pressing Tehran; 
France also did not wish to risk losing its dialogue with 
Iran. On Lebanon, Araud agreed that France should have 
consulted the U.S. prior to initiating its call for a Lebanon 
"national dialogue" conference, and affirmed Sarkozy's 
intention to maintain existing French policy towards Lebanon 
alongside close consultation with the United States. On 
Afghanistan, Araud reiterated France's decision to increase 
its Operational Mentoring and Liaison teams (OMLTs) from one 
to four, bringing the total number of French trainers for the 
Afghan National Army to over 150 personnel. Pressed on PRTs, 
a Presidential advisor said that France was studying the 
concept and presented it to Sarkozy as one of several 
options. Araud added that European support for Allied 
efforts in Afghanistan was not open-ended. Araud also said 
that Sarkozy was seeking to decrease tensions with Turkey 
with a proposal to move forward on those EU accession 
chapters that would apply equally to membership and 
partnership status. Paris had also informed Ankara that the 
GOF would not support a vote in the French Senate on a 
controversial resolution on Armenia. End Summary. 

Bilateral Relationship 

5. (C) Araud began the discussion by noting that the Sarkozy 
government was opening a new period in the bilateral 
relationship. France remains a good friend of the United 
States, and will seek even closer ties with us. That said, 
France will not hesitate to express disagreement when 
France's approach differs from that of the U.S. Referring to 
past differences over Iraq, Araud stated that France sees no 
need to make our disagreements public -- we will discuss and 
consult first. Araud observed that former French Ambassador 
Jean-David Levitte, who is Sarkozy's new Diplomatic Advisor, 
has a track record of working well with the United States. 
Burns concurred, telling Araud that the U.S. had taken 
positive note of the new French government's decision to drop 
public calls for a "time horizon" for withdrawal of foreign 
forces from Iraq. 


6. (S) In an aside before the dinner, Araud described how 
Ingrid Betancourt's release had become such an important 
cause in France, one which President Sarkozy had insistently 
associated himself with during the presidential campaign. 
Burns noted that since August 2003 there had been no proof of 
life of the American hostages in Colombia. However, 
extensive interviews with the recently escaped FARC prisoner 
had led us to believe the information he provided was 
credible; there may now be grounds for believing the U.S. 
hostages, held together with Betancourt, are still alive. 
Loras replied that based on French interviews of the same 
escapee, the GOF was skeptical. The information provided was 
far too detailed, possibly indicating it was planted -- and 
the whole "escape" potentially a fake. Araud and Burns 
agreed to further consultations between our missions in 
Bogota and in Paris. Loras asked that such talks begin in 
Paris. Araud referred us to the Presidency for future 
consultations on this sensitive topic. 

7. (S) Comment: In a follow-up conversation with Pol/MC after 
the dinner, Loras was much less categorical, saying at least 
a week was needed to review the information concerning the 
hostages' well-being and whereabouts. We agreed to consult 
closely, especially with the Presidency. End Comment. 

Russia, Missile Defense and CFE 

8. (C) Echoing almost verbatim his previous comments to 
visiting staffdel Myers (ref B), Araud stated that Russia has 
become a problem as it regresses to a traditional Czarist 
foreign policy -- imperialist and brutal, reflecting endemic 
racism, anti-Semitism and nationalism. By way of an example, 
he noted that a high-ranking member of the Duma recently 
exclaimed to a visiting French official, "so, you've elected 
the Jew Sarkozy!" Araud also observed that Russia feels 
besieged by NATO, the U.S. and the West. Faced with the 
"trauma" of dealing with Chechnya, and the "humiliation" of 
retreat from former territories during the Yeltsin years, 
Russia is unlikely to modify its imperialist foreign policy 
in the near future. Our collective challenge, emphasized 
Araud, is to find a middle way "between complacency and 
confrontation" in dealing with Putin and this "new Russia." 

9. (C) Burns said that President Bush sees continuing value 
in the relationship, especially on such important issues as 
fighting terrorism and wmd proliferation, and so had chosen 
not to respond in kind to Putin's heated rhetoric. The U.S. 
has deliberately refrained from reacting publicly to Putin's 
recent provocative statements on CFE, MD, and other issues. 
Loras said that Sarkozy is seeking to develop a positive 
relationship with Putin, but without significant success to 
date. In their meeting, Sarkozy had raised with Putin human 
rights concerns, including the situation in Chechnya, the 
violent repression of a recent gay rights parade in Moscow, 
and the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya. Putin reacted 
by attacking human rights (prison conditions) in France. 
Additionally, Loras noted that two days after Sarkozy had 
lobbied Putin for the purchase of Airbuses, Russia announced 
the purchase of Boeing aircraft. 

10. (C) Araud stated that Putin had explained to Sarkozy the 
Russian proposal to locate part of the U.S. Missile Defense 

(MD) program in Azerbajian. The French were appreciative of 
the briefings General Obering had provided in France, as they 
helped to understand better the U.S. project -- and the 
Russian response. The Russians, Araud concluded, are trying 
to divide the Allies by questioning the Iranian threat and 
proposing a sensible alternative to basing MD defense in 
central Europe. Burns said that the Russians, in offering an 
Azerbajian option, were, in fact, implicitly recognizing the 
reality of an Iranian threat and the need for missile 
defense. The United States, meanwhile, remains open to MD 
coordination with NATO. 

11. (C) Regarding CFE, Araud ventured that Russia might have 
a basis for its desire for some reciprocity. The Russians 
had made progress in Georgia, yet we say we will never ratify 
until the Istanbul commitments are completely fulfilled: the 
GOF is not sure this is the best approach. Furthermore, the 
Russians could argue that U.S. bases in Bulgaria and Romania 
are intended not only for training, but in fact amounted to 
"substantial" new deployments. Burns pushed back, reminding 
Araud that Russia had concurred on those basing agreements. 
Araud agreed that the Russians were guilty of revisionist 
history, but the Allies nonetheless needed to offer Russia a 
way out. 


12. (C) Turning to the then-upcoming June 13 Sarkozy meeting 
with Georgian President Saakashvili, Loras commented that the 
Presidents had met twice before. In public, Loras added, 
France will convey a message of "strong support." Privately, 
however, the French planned to urge Sakaashvili not to 
provoke the Russians, to avoid raising tensions, and to work 
on the human rights situation in Georgia. The Georgians are 
looking to use NATO as a shield; they "should not play with 
fire" by baiting Moscow, Loras emphasized. Burns said the 
USG also had counseled Sakaashvili against provoking the 
Russians, but Sakaashvili will be nervous until Georgia has 
obtained MAP. Burns explained that the U.S. had told the 
Georgian President that while NATO's door remains open, 
Georgia must meet its obligations under NATO. 

13. (C) Voicing well-known French reservations over NATO 
membership for Georgia, Araud questioned whether membership 
ultimately made sense: "Georgia in NATO means problems; it 
should have the diplomacy of its geography." He pointed to 
Finland -- a prosperous and independent non-NATO country on 
Russia's border -- as a possible model. Presidential advisor 
Richier added that decisions on the borders of Europe for the 
EU and NATO were open. Is Georgia-in-NATO a security 
interest? Araud concluded by stating that Sarkozy has not 
yet addressed Georgia policy. Burns explained that the USG 
would like to see Georgia obtain MAP status and eventual NATO 
membership. We clearly have a different view of NATO: we 
see a political imperative in bringing in democracies. The 
same logic that brought the Baltics into NATO applies to 
Georgia. Russian objections should not block the membership 
track; Moscow should not have a veto. The future of Russia 
is not readily predictable, hence the U.S. would like to 
ensure that as much of Europe is democratic and protected by 
NATO as possible. 


14. (C) Araud and Burns agreed that Iran is not complying 
with UNSC sanctions and continues to move forward with its 
nuclear program. Regarding next steps, Araud observed that 
while it may be difficult to obtain new UN sanctions with 
more bite, UNSC action nevertheless serves to provide 
legitimacy. He observed that the French Embassy in Tehran 
reports that U.S. financial sanctions have been very 
effective, but that Iran is not yet ready to yield to 
international pressure. In fact, the regime is in a 
hardening period. We must therefore manage the crisis for 
the long term ("pour la dure"), and keep our nerves. 
Richier suggested that we should continue to seek another 
UNSC resolution before proceeding to a review of other 
options including alternate sanctions -- on which Sarkozy 
would have to be consulted. He added that the United States 
and France should refrain from public discussion of such 
sanctions to avoid giving the impression, at this stage of 

UNSC discussions, that we plan to move forward regardless of 
results in New York. Burns reviewed his recent discussions 
of Iran with Israeli officials, nothing that they agreed with 
the USG that there still is time for a diplomatic solution. 
Stronger sanctions and economic pressure will be essential to 
achieving that end. Other governments must be convinced of 
that essential point. 


15. (C) Burns also reviewed how Iran violated UNSC 
resolutions by providing arms to Hizballah in Lebanon, which 
appears to be taking new steps to threaten Israel, and to the 
Taliban in Afghanistan. Loras responded that, given that the 
evidence on Hizballah arms in Lebanon is not verifiable, 
France is not currently pushing Iran on this issue. Araud 
added that France is trying to keep open its dialogue with 
Larijani on Lebanon. All agreed that financial sanctions 
remain an effective way to pressure Iran to behave. Burns 
briefed Araud on the status of Iranian-American hostages held 
by Iran, and requested an appeal for their release by the 
French Ambassador. Araud replied that he has already raised 
the matter with Iranian authorities, and recalled that it had 
taken France a year to obtain the freedom of a French hostage 
in Iran. 

16. (C) Araud stated that Sarkozy had told President Bush 
that France would maintain its policy on Lebanon, minus its 
exclusive Harriri focus. Sarkozy had also solicited 
President Bush's advice about talking with Syria. Araud said 
Sarkozy responded that now is not the time, as Syria remains 
very destructive. Burns told Araud that the United States 
had been surprised at not having been consulted prior to 
France's recent call for a conference on Lebanon in Paris. 
Araud contritely agreed that consultations in advance were 
warranted. Returning briefly to a discussion of the renewal 
of UNIFIL, MOD advisor Mondoloni revealed that the French 
military would like to downsize its presence, but that 
civilian leaders had emphasized to them that political 
obligations were paramount. 


17. (C) Araud and Richier confirmed previous reporting on new 
French commitments for Afghanistan (reftels). They 
emphasized that despite campaign rhetoric, France is staying 
the course in Afghanistan. Paris plans to increase the 
number of French "Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams 
(OMLTs)," from the current one to four, bringing the total 
number of French personnel training the Afghan Army to over 
150 trainers. They also noted that following a review of 
Afghanistan policy and, at the request of the Presidency, 
Paris was reexaming how to improve French assistance efforts. 
Burns asked about the possibility that France could 
establish a PRT, noting it was the only NATO Ally not so 
involved. Richier admitted that France is studying PRT 
operations, but that the option of establishing one had not 
been raised during earlier the policy review. It is 
important to note, he added, that in contrast to previous 
French positions, the Government is not dismissing out of 
hand the PRT option: Sarkozy had still not completed the 
review of, or reached to final conclusions on, France's 
Afghanistan policy. 

18. (C) Araud reiterated the French observation that European 
governments and publics are not committed to a long-term 
engagement in Afghanistan: there is a certain "fragility to 
the European presence there." For example, the German 
government faces difficult battles with the Bundestag every 
time it needs to renew its military presence there. "We 
(Europeans) are in Afghanistan to demonstrate support for the 
United States," Araud added; Europeans do see it as a vital 
interest of their own. While France's earlier call for a 
"contact group" had been ill-conceived, urgent but discreet 
Quad format discussions are needed on preparing an "exit 
strategy" or "success strategy." Neither the Allies nor the 
Taliban can win decisively in Afghanistan, Araud commented. 
We therefore must continue work to get the Afghans to assume 
control of their future. Additionally, President Karzai 
needs to better address Pashtun grievances, which fuel 
support for the Taliban, he concluded. Burns, citing the 

Balkans as an example, noted that the USG does not believe 
the Allies should leave Afghanistan any time soon. 


19. (C) In a brief exchange on Turkey, Burns reviewed the 
PKK's recent announcement that it would cease attacks, and 
USG contacts with Ankara regarding the negative impact of any 
cross border operation into Iraq. Araud related that Sarkozy 
and Levitte were seeking to decrease tensions with Turkey by 
supporting EU progress on 31 of the 35 accession chapters, 
i.e., those chapters that would apply equally to a privileged 
partnership with Turkey (the other four applying only to 
membership). Levitte had explained Sarkozy's position to the 
Turks during a recent visit to Ankara, where he also informed 
the GOT that Sarkozy would ensure that the Armenia genocide 
bill would die in the French Senate. 

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: fm