Cablegate: Hirc Chairman Lantos Meeting with Russian Security Council

DE RUEHMO #0753/01 0521247
R 211247Z FEB 07




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: HIRC Chairman Lantos Meeting with Russian Security Council
Secretary Ivanov


1. (SBU) Summary: In a February 19 meeting with Russian Security
Council Secretary Ivanov, HIRC Chairman Lantos announced his intent
to introduce legislation repealing Jackson-Vanik and inaugurate a
formal congressional working group with Russian Duma Chairman of the
International Relations Committee. On Iran, Ivanov undertook to
encourage Iranian support for a Lantos visit, described a nuclear
Iran as unacceptable, expressed frustration with Iranian refusal to
accept a "time out," and conditioned the fuel delivery of Bushehr on
the "developing situation" -- adding that Russia would not
"complicate" the situation. Ivanov reviewed Russian opposition to
the Ahtisaari plan for Kosovo, said early action in the UNSC would
complicate matters, and noted the effect on the frozen conflicts.
On the Middle East, Lantos underscored that a Palestinian National
Unity Government would have to "subscribe" to the three conditions,
and urged Russia to persuade Syria to choose between the civilized
world and Iran. Lantos expressed strong concern over Russian weapon
sales to Syria, with Ivanov defending GOR end-user controls. Lantos
told Ivanov that NATO could handle Afghanistan, if Allies and their
partners in ISAF members shed their "caveats" on the rules of
engagement. End Summary

GOR View of Bilateral Relations

2. (SBU) In a February 19 meeting with Chairman of the House
Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Lantos and the Ambassador, Russian
Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov joked that US-Russian
relations "were not as bad" as they appeared, but that Russia could
not help but be disturbed by the discrepancy that existed between
the accomplishments and the current atmosphere. Putin, he noted,
had instructed Duma Chairman Boris Gryzlov to intensify contacts
with his American counterparts, and the GOR recognized that it had
neglected to pay enough attention to a congressional dialogue. In
other remedial steps, the GOR had recently approved a bilateral
non-governmental working group on human rights chaired by Human
Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and Carnegie Washington Director
Jessica Matthews, and was examining the creation of a working group
"of veterans," seeking to tap into the expertise of former Prime
Minister Primakov and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (who
visits Russia again in March). While this group would be
unofficial, the goal was to deepen the strategic dialogue. Ivanov
invited Lantos to visit Moscow frequently, joking that the Chairman
was the only one of his colleagues not running for President.

3. (SBU) Lantos expressed appreciation for GOR hospitality during
his visit and said he viewed his consultations in the context of
post-Munich, referring to the speech by Putin, severely criticizing
U.S. policy. In order to redress the imbalance in the relationship,
Lantos previewed his intention to introduce legislation repealing
Jackson-Vanik, which he would announce in a February 21 press
conference. Furthermore, following his February 20 meeting with
Duma Chairman of the International Relations Committee Konstantin
Kosachev, Lantos said he would announce the creation of a formal
parliamentary working group, which would meet on a regular basis,
and help kick-start a constructive dialogue. Lantos pledged to
devote considerable energy to improving US-Russian relations.

4. (SBU) Ivanov, noting recent accomplishments in WTO and "123"
negotiations, on-going cooperation in the Quartet, and the
establishment of the Global Initiative on Combating Nuclear
Terrorism, asked the Chairman for his frank assessment of the
prospects for the repeal of Jackson-Vanik. Ivanov hastened to add
that the GOR understood the legislation was symbolic, noting that
Russia had lived with the amendment for a long time, and could
continue to do so. Lantos responded that he would do everything in
his power to enact the repeal, noting that he was uniquely qualified
to take up this task and would be "very surprised" if he did not
succeed. Ivanov underscored the GOR's appreciation for his efforts,
and Lantos stressed that it was an antidote to the Putin speech.

Iran: Tougher Talk

5. (SBU) Lantos expressed frustration over the Iranian regime's
refusal to issue visas to Members of the U.S. Congress, noting that
he was last in Iran during the Shah's reign. Despite his efforts,
and those of former UNSYG Annan, Iran refused to budge from this
policy, which Lantos labeled counterproductive. Ivanov expressed
surprise over the restriction, particularly in the wake of former
President Khatami's visit to New York, and undertook to raise the
issue directly with the Iranian leadership, including Security
Adviser Larijani. Lantos reiterated that he was prepared to travel
to Iran at any time for a serious conversation.

6. (SBU) Ivanov updated Lantos on the status of GOR efforts to
engage the Iranian regime, noting that this was done in close
consultation with the U.S. The GOR did not want "under any
circumstance" to see the emergence of a nuclear Iran, which was
unacceptable to all of the governments in the region for differing
reasons. This point was underscored to Putin during his

MOSCOW 00000753 002 OF 003

consultations in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan. Not only would it
upset the stability of the Gulf, but it would fatally compromise the
nonproliferation regime. Because of GOR concern, Ivanov stressed,
the GOR had voted for UNSCR 1737, since all levers had to be
employed. The results of the six-party talks with the DPRK
demonstrated that, while difficult, negotiations were the best and
rational way to achieve a lasting solution.

7. (SBU) Ivanov expressed exasperation with the Iranian
leadership, noting that the 12 hour negotiating sessions were "no
picnic," and contrasting the Iranians unfavorably with other
infamous negotiating partners, including Hafiz al-Asad, Hussein, and
Milosevic. Unlike the North Koreans, the Iranians were not clear
about their objectives. Ivanov questioned why Iran would seek to
develop a full nuclear fuel cycle capability, noting that "if the
situation develops favorably" Russia was prepared to provide the
fuel for Bushehr. The Iranians had no other nuclear power plants,
and no immediate prospects for acquiring them, so their refusal to
take up El-Baradei's offer of a "time out" was incomprehensible.
Putin and other senior GOR leaders consistently warned the Iranian
leaders that their failure to answer questions over their nuclear
program would only result in specialists concluding that it was for
military purposes. "And that is unacceptable to us." The GOR would
continue to promote a "time out," which could give the IAEA the time
necessary to resolve its outstanding questions.

8. (SBU) Ivanov described a new UNSC resolution as "unavoidable"
if the Iranian stance did not change, which the GOR had communicated
to the Iranian leadership, and specifically tied timing of the
delivery of Bushehr fuel to progress in addressing international
demands. Repeating that "we'll make a decision in light of the
developing situation," Ivanov sidestepped Lantos' query on how long
Russia was prepared to delay. Ivanov added that much would depend
on a new resolution. Lantos underscored that the longer Russia
delayed, the better, while Ivanov undertook that Russia "won't do
anything that complicates the situation." "We will be prudent."
Ivanov noted the practical difficulties that Russia faced -- a
workforce (half Ukrainian, half Russian) of 2,500, and
possible legal exposure on commercial agreements -- but said that
"is not the major issue." While theoretically the delivery of fuel
was tied to IAEA technical assessments, Ivanov underscored that the
decision was political. "If the situation worsens, the supply of
fuel will be threatened." Ivanov urged a continuous dialogue on the
part of the U.S. and EU3. "We will all be winners in the end: it
doesn't matter who takes the lead."

9. (SBU) Iran's regional ambitions complicated the picture
further. Ivanov argued that allowing Iran to participate in the
resolution of regional issues, such as Lebanon, was one way of
showing the leadership that nuclear weapons were not a prerequisite
for being taken seriously by the international community. In
Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the GOR had worked productively with the
Iranian regime, and Ivanov pointed to the Saudi and Iranian brokered
agreement in Lebanon as a step forward, while withholding judgment
on whether the compromise would hold. The GOR believed that Iran
really sought a direct dialogue with the U.S., and Ivanov commented
that Lantos' proposed trip would be a "very interesting step" in
this light. Lantos noted his role in opening a dialogue with the
DPRK that preceded the regime's return to the six-party negotiations
and reiterated his hope that Iran sought a serious dialogue. The
advantage of a congressionally-led dialogue was that it could be
viewed as official, semi-official, or private, depending upon the
needs of the interlocutors. The Iranian ban on visas, he repeated,
was utterly irrational. Ivanov undertook again to raise the issue.

Kosovo: No Hurry

10. (SBU) Ivanov reviewed GOR concerns over the Ahtisaari
proposal, and the UN
Special Envoy's propensity for "rapid solutions," noting that any
outcome should be lasting and acceptable to all the parties. Ivanov
argued that it would have been possible to enforce a solution at the
end of the war, but now "we have what we have." Under the current
proposal, Ivanov asserted that the Kosovars had all their historical
demands answered, "beyond their wildest dreams," while the Serbs
lost. Ivanov pushed for continued negotiations, arguing that the
Serbs recognized that they could not live with the Albanian Kosovars
and that a dignified solution was still possible. A quick move to
the UNSC would "complicate the situation" and there was no reason to
hurry. The Kosovars enjoyed de facto independence, their economy
was growing, and their children were matriculating in Kosovar
schools and universities. Bosnia had taken ten years to reach a
negotiated settlement and EUFOR was still in place. A solution to
Kosovo, with its complicated inter-ethnic disputes, could not be
hurried. Russia, Ivanov insisted, was not trying to artificially
delay a settlement, but was convinced that the proposed solution was
out of balance. Ivanov added that the international community never
addressed the plight of Serb refugees.

MOSCOW 00000753 003 OF 003

11. (SBU) Ivanov stressed that Russia was concerned by the
parallels between Kosovo and Abkhazia, as well as other frozen
conflicts. Lawyers could state that it was not a precedent, but
"life contradicts." Ivanov pointed to developments in Moldova,
where 600-800,000 residents had acquired Romanian passports.
Transnistrians, who did not accept a Romanian identity, would point
to their own resolution and unique history as justification for an
Ahtisaari-style solution.

Middle East Peace, Syrian Weapon Sales
--------------------------------------------- ----

12. (SBU) Lantos noted the difficult situation in the Middle East,
his extended conversation with Palestinian PM Abbas, and
disappointment over the National Unity Government (NUG), which he
termed a move in a negative direction that left U.S. efforts to
assist the Palestinians "up in the air." Lantos noted emphatically
that the U.S. would not deal with a government that was made up of
terrorists. Ivanov noted Russian interest in the NUG, which Abbas
had briefed Putin on during their meeting in Jordan. Ivanov
suggested that the NUG's "recognition" of previous agreements could
be read as an affirmation of Israel's existence and repudiation of
terrorism. Lantos rejected this formulation, noting that the new
Palestinian government would have to specifically subscribe to the
three conditions. Anything short of that would "not fly a
millimeter" in
the U.S. Congress.

13. (SBU) In response to Ivanov's question on the possibility of
Israeli-Syrian contacts, Lantos detailed his conversations in
Lebanon, where Syrian intimidation made calls for the stationing of
UN forces along the Syrian-Lebanon border impossible. Stressing
that he did not oppose engagement with the Syrians, Lantos noted
that he did not attach much hope to the process. It was up to Syria
to decide whether to be constructive and live in the civilized
world, or to play Iran's game. Lantos urged the GOR to underscore
the same
message with Asad. Iran was the single most dangerous phenomenon on
the planet, and the Syrian regime needed to understand this point.

14. (SBU) Lantos noted his deep concern over Russian military
shipments to Syria. While the GOR pointed to its end-user
restrictions, the U.S. knew that weapons were transferred to
Hizbollah. Ivanov reiterated that Russia opposed the transfer of
weapons to Hizbollah, which had occurred when Syria vacated Lebanon,
and had taken measures to intensify the monitoring of weapons sold
to the Asad regime. While Olmert spoke of Russian missiles falling
into Hizbollah hands, there was no proof presented. Russian
military sales did not threaten the region's stability, and the GOR
was transparent in its dealings with the Israeli government,
alerting them to the kinds of weapons supplied.

Afghanistan: Moving beyond "caveats"
--------------------------------------------- --

15. (SBU) Referring to his recent trip to Afghanistan, Lantos said
the biggest challenge was the unwillingness of many NATO Allies and
ISAF partners to step up to the plate. "Caveats" on the roles of
military engagement meant that the largest burden fell on the
British, Canadians, Danes, and Dutch. NATO was capable of
addressing the threat in Afghanistan, but only if the ISAF dilemma
on caveats was resolved. Lantos decried the risk averse calculation
of some NATO Allies and partners, but pointed to the strong U.S.
commitment, including the decision by the President to send 3,000
troops originally destined for Iraq to Afghanistan to preempt the
spring offensive.

16. (SBU) Noting that NATO wouldn't be in Afghanistan forever,
Ivanov emphasized the importance of developing Afghanistan's
military, internal, and police forces, and expressed concern over
the diminution in the role of the Tajiks. The Tajiks were the
natural counter to the extremist forces in Afghanistan. While
Russia was not active in Afghanistan, it was prepared to cooperate,
particularly when it came to the north.

17. (SBU) Chairman Lantos cleared this message.


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