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Cablegate: Embassy Paris Press Outreach On Missile Defense

VZCZCXRO7999
OO RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHFR #1034 0751628
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161628Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5694
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PARIS 001034

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/PPD, EUR/WE, EUR/RUS, INR, R

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PARM KPAO MNUC MARR IR FR RU
SUBJECT: EMBASSY PARIS PRESS OUTREACH ON MISSILE DEFENSE

REFS: A) STATE 30480 B) PARIS 922

Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

--------------------------------------------- -
PUSHING BACK ON FRENCH MEDIA CHARACTERIZATIONS
--------------------------------------------- -

1. (SBU) Embassy Paris reached key media audiences March 16 with an
exclusive print interview for DOD U/S for Policy, Ambassador Eric
Edelman, as well as a press roundtable featuring U/S Edelman and
Missile Defense Agency Director LTG Henry Obering. French press
coverage on the USG's missile defense plans has focused on three key
points:

-- The U.S. and Russia are at odds over the proposal, and their
public feud is causing concern and division among European
countries;

-- Russia's opposition to the USG missile defense plan is more
political than strategic; and

-- The USG's proposed missile defense system is as yet ineffective.

--------------------
MAKING A STRONG CASE
--------------------

2. (SBU) Left-of-center Le Monde's senior diplomatic correspondent
(and former Moscow correspondent) conducted the interview with U/S
Edelman, with her questions focusing on the extent of U.S.
consultations with others on missile defense. We expect her article
and the full interview to appear in the March 17 edition of Le
Monde.

3. (SBU) U/S Edelman and LTG Obering emphasized the USG's history of
regular consultations with Russia, the NATO Allies, and the specific
countries who have agreed to host MD sites. They made clear that
the threats emanate primarily from Iran, and that the ten
interceptors and radar array to be based in Poland and the Czech
Republic would be defensive and not offensive (in fact, they have no
warheads). U/S Edelman and LTG Obering also expressed their
surprise at the Russian reaction, and noted that consultations at
the NATO-Russia Council and other talks had been going on for a
year. They stressed that the interceptors were neither aimed at
Russian missiles, nor represented an attempt to "encircle" the
Russians. The U.S. system could fit into the NATO theater missile
defense system, should the Allies reach consensus to include it, but
the USG would continue with its bilateral actions for the meantime,
and it would complement NATO efforts in any case. They indicated
that there was no need to expand the system, and that the current
budget was not programmed to do so. The media roundtable attracted
French and international media including wire services (Agence
France Presse, Spanish EFE, Reuters), dailies (Les Echos, La Croix,
LeFigaro, LeMonde), weeklies (Defense News, Nouvel Observateur, Time
Magazine) and broadcast outlets (BFM-TV, CNN-I, Radio France
International, and Russia Today TV).

-------
COMMENT
-------

4. (SBU) With U/S Edelman's and LTG Obering's well-placed media
interventions, we expect that weekend press on the topic will make
the points we would like to see -- and help buttress GOF
inclinations at least not to put roadblocks in the way.
STAPLETON

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