Cablegate: Syria/Greece, Syria/Italy, Syria/Netherlands,
DE RUEHDM #0598/01 1641313
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131313Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3696
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6879
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4586
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3232
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7727
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1813
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5143
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1349
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7470
UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000598
DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ARN, INR/IC/CD, INR/R/MR:STHIBEAULT AND
JMCCARTER, VOA NEWS CA, NEA/PPD:CBOURGEOIS, AZAIBACK, AND
AFERNANDEZ, IIP/G/NEA-SA MDAVIDSON
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Syria/Greece, Syria/Italy, Syria/Netherlands,
Syria/France, Terje Roed-Larsen, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories,
1. Summary: Syrian papers on June 13 reported the visit to
Damascus by Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis and
her meeting with President Asad on June 12 about bilateral relations
and political developments in Iraq, the occupied territories and
Lebanon. Bakoyannis praised Syria's pivotal role in the region and
its hosting of refugees. Both sides stressed the importance of
intensifying efforts and increasing cooperation between regional
countries and the European Union in order to find just solutions to
regional issues that preserve rights and restore the occupied lands.
FM Bakoyannis also held meetings with VP Shara and FM Mouallem.
Papers also reported President Asad's meeting on June 12 with
Oliviero Diliberto, Secretary General of the Italian Communist
Party, focusing on means of enhancing relations between the Italian
Communist Party and the Baath Party, as well as between the two
countries. They also discussed current regional developments.
Papers also featured a speech given at al-Ahram Center for Strategic
and Political Studies in Cairo on June 12 by Dutch FM Maxime
Verhagen, reiterating the importance of cementing comprehensive
peace in the Middle East and pointing out Syria's vital role in
bringing about peace. Verhagen stressed the importance of finding a
solution on the Palestinian-Israeli front and prioritizing that
solution on all levels. Verhagen pointed out the repercussions of
leaving the Palestinian cause unresolved, calling upon the
international community to guarantee security and development in the
region if a peace agreement is reached on the Palestinian front. He
also said that the recently activated Arab Initiative is a
historical step on the path of overcoming the current obstacles to
negotiations. Verhagen stressed the importance of providing the
necessary international assistance to the Palestinians, stating that
his country is prepared to provide aid either on the bilateral level
or via the European Union.
Independent al-Watan quoted a French diplomat in Damascus as saying
that French President Nicola Sarkozy will dispatch former Chief of
French Intelligence, Jean Claude Cosron, to Syria to hold talks with
Syrian officials on Syrian-French relations. The source said that
this step means that France has started to retrieve its "special
position" in the Middle East after a period that was influenced by
personal interests rather than political status.
The diplomat said that this step comes on the heels of consultations
with the French Ambassador in Damascus that aimed to find a starting
point for a new dialogue between the two countries. However, the
source said, it is unlikely that relations between the two countries
will witness immediate improvement.
All papers cited the following Foreign Ministry statement on June
12: "In response to what has been mentioned in the report of Terje
Roed-Larsen submitted to the UN Security Council about the
implementation of Resolution 1559, Syria once again stresses that it
has implemented what is related to it in said resolution."
"Larsen's allegations before the UN Security Council on smuggling
weapons from Syria to Lebanon are full adoption of what Israel
circulates, aiming at harming Syrian-Lebanese relations," the
official source added. "At the same time, Syria condemns the
misleading reports Larsen customarily circulates in order to target
Syria and its stances each time Security Council discusses
Resolution 1559," it noted. "As a result of those lies, Syria long
ago broke ties with Larsen, because he doesn't serve the UN agenda,
but the agenda of known international sides," it said. The source
further said, "The Security Council referred in its statement to
claims of transferring weapons from Syria to Lebanon, according to
Israeli reports, and this underlines the non-credibility of the
information, because Israel is the side which violates Lebanon's
sovereignty, unity and independence and still occupies Lebanese
territories." The source said that Syria has asked the UN Secretary
General to provide it with any information regarding this issue, for
Syria to scrutinize them and give answers, but the UN has so far
failed to do so. "Larsen used to ignore the unveiled interference
of some known parties in Lebanon's internal affairs, preventing the
Lebanese from reaching a national reconciliation," the source said.
It added, "Syria repeats its rejection of the allegations of
transferring weapons to Lebanon through Syria, considering them
rumors launched for political purposes. Syria also denies any
relation to the so-called 'Fatah al-Islam' and confirms commitment
to Lebanon's territorial integrity, independence and stability as
well as reaching national accordance and working to form a national
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad receives Greek Foreign Minister Bakoyannis and an
Italian Communist Party delegation. Bakoyannis: Talks were very
important.... We support lifting the siege on Palestinians and
supporting the political process in Iraq. Diliberto: Syria has the
right to restoration of the Golan" (Government-owned Al-Thawra,
"The Netherlands Foreign Minister: Syria has a vital role"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 6/13)
"French sources: Jean Claude Cosron has the authority to visit
Syria" (Independent al-Watan, 6/13)
"Foreign Ministry Source: Larsen's accusations are based on Israeli
rumors and aim at sabotaging Syrian-Lebanese relations"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/13)
"Israeli shells hit Palestinian President Abbas' headquarters and PM
Hanieh's residence. Scores of Palestinians killed and injured.
Fateh considers withdrawal from the government" (Government-owned
"While Israeli guns rest, Palestinian civil strife reaps 25
Palestinian victims. Fear spreads in the Gaza Strip"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 6/13)
"While the Lebanese army seizes new Fatah al-Islam positions and
enhances its progress in Nahr al-Bared, Lahoud: Unity among
Lebanese is capable of confronting schemes of partition, expulsion
and fragmentation" (Government-ownd Al-Ba'th, 6/13)
"Washington calls on the UN to expand its role in Iraq. Admiral
William Fallon, top US commander in the Middle East, warns al-Maliki
to counter the growing tide of congressional anger and opposition to
the war, giving him one month to achieve tangible political
progress" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/13)
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
Ali Qasim, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(6/13): "Many observers contemplate the fabricated Israeli
exaggeration in the talk about peace at a time when Israel is not
eliminating the possibility of aggression or denying its
premeditated hostile intentions through large-scale preparations,
including war games with the participation of American pilots.
"Israeli PM Olmert wants to send a message to the Israeli people,
who are now more convinced of the state of impotence that their
leaders are experiencing on the political and military levels....
Israelis realize that this level of political leaders cannot take
effective steps toward peace, and that all it can do is embroil
Israel in new adventures, the results of which no one can predict."
"What worries Israelis most is their knowledge that their decisions
are no longer made in the Israeli kitchen, as they used to think,
especially under this government, which is unable to make any
decision in isolation from Americans. Therefore, their real fear
stems from their firm belief that the handover of their decisions to
the US Administration amid sweeping changes and solid failures of
the American plans, dictates that Israel be assigned missions that
do not necessary serve Israeli interests...."
"They Do Not Seek Peace"
Dr. Sa'id Musallam, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote (6/13): "The Israeli talk about readiness to pay the price of
peace coincides with Israeli-American military exercises and
possible scenarios for new aggression....
"Israel is not seriously searching for ways to resume negotiations
with Syria from where they left off.... A sincere quest for peace
does not need secret channels and media leaks.... The Israeli
leadership is exploiting the internal and external situations
politically in order to make it through the bottleneck now that the
noose has been tightened on its military and political leaders....
"The search for genuine peace does not require military exercises
and preparation for aggression....
"Peace and the search for real opportunities for its success require
courage, recognition of other peoples' rights, and commitment to
international legitimacy. These things do not exist in Israel's
military dictionary and historical conduct...."
Umar Jaftali, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(6/13): "There are flagrant contradictions in the position of the
US Administration toward the issue of human rights in the region....
For example, President Bush called on Libya to release the Bulgarian
nurses but failed to call on Israel to release 40 Palestinian
officials, including ministers and the speaker of the Legislative
"While Bush also called on Sudan to accept the deployment of
international forces in Darfur, he prevented the deployment of such
forces to protect the Palestinian people, who are besieged in their
homeland, suffering the worst racial persecution....
"President Bush is also used to leveling accusations against Syria
whenever he faces hardship in Iraq and whenever his troops there
suffer more losses and bad reports. He even expressed indignation
over vague Israeli talk about peace and viewed it as departure from
his positions toward Syria. Nor do we forget how he prevented
Israel from stopping its criminal aggression on Lebanon in July....
"For all these reasons, peoples of the region, as well as European
peoples, see nothing in the American policy but futile adherence to
a strategy of hegemony that lacks the logic of justice and law....
"As for Syria, its fears that the Bush administration has abandoned
the role of a fair sponsor of the peace process in the region remain
valid. Had the American position been different, this
administration would have accepted the extended Syrian hand to solve
all the problems of the region, and it would have dealt with the
Baker-Hamilton recommendations and with the advice of other
important American figures that visited Syria and stressed that the
American position toward it is wrong."
"Advocates of Terrorism"
Ghazi al-Dada, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(6/13): "The American role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is
extremely negative.... Not only does the United States refrain from
applying any pressure on Israel to stop its aggression against
Palestinians, it also effectively joins Israel in stifling and
starving out Palestinians through the unjust siege imposed on
them.... The United States also fuels domestic Palestinian
"The European position, likewise, is not positive, even if it is not
negative.... In light of this, Palestinians have no choice but to
stay united and rise above their differences, which serve Israel
only.... Palestinians also need to adhere strongly to their full
rights and not give the Israeli-American plan targeting their rights
any chance to succeed...."