Cablegate: Eu-Asia (Asean, China, India) Summits: More Thalk Than Substance
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DE RUEHLI #2960/01 3241947
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P 201947Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6450
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 0345
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0129
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON PRIORITY 0033
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI PRIORITY 0040
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LISBON 002960
E.O. 12958: DECLASSIFY 11/29/2027
TAGS: PREL PO EUNCH TW IN
SUBJECT: EU-ASIA (ASEAN, CHINA, INDIA) SUMMITS: MORE THALK THAN SUBSTANCE
CLASSIFIED BY POL/ECON OFFICER CARI ENAV FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)
1. (C) November ends in a flurry of EU-Asia Summits for Portugal's EU Presidency, with the EU-ASEAN Summit on November 22 in Singapore, EU-China Summit on November 28 in Beijing, and EU-India Summit on November 30 in New Delhi. Although agendas include everything from human rights to climate change, Foreign Minister Amado's Asia and Africa Advisor noted the events are more about ""political dialogue"" rather than substantive progress. Burma is the one notable exception. EU Special to Envoy to Burma Piero Fassino will attend all three summits to underscore the importance the EU places on developments there. China discussions will focus on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, Taiwan's upcoming UN membership referendum, and cooperation in Africa. No movement is expected on lifting the arms embargo or ""market economy"" status. In India, discussion will focus on Free Trade Agreement negotiations and bilateral Portugal-India agreements.
PM Socrates Racking Up the Frequent Flyer Miles
2. (C) Prime Minister Jose Socrates will lead the EU Presidency delegation to Singapore, Beijing and New Delhi. Foreign Minister Luis Amado will accompany him to Singapore but break away following the meeting to attend the Middle East Conference in Annapolis on November 26. Amado may rejoin Socrates in New Delhi, depending on the outcome of the Annapolis meeting. MFA Political Director Vasco Bramao Ramos, who will attend all three Summits, will be the highest ranking MFA official in Beijing as MFA Secretary of State Joao Cravinho has opted to remain in Lisbon to prepare for the December 8-9 EU-Africa Summit.
EU-ASEAN Summit: Burma Sanctions and Protocol Headaches
3. (SBU) Burma will be front and center during the November 22 EU-ASEAN Summit in Singapore (which currently holds the ASEAN chair). Newly-appointed EU Special Envoy to Burma Piero Fassino will attend the meeting as part of the Presidency delegation to underscore the importance the EU places on developments there and to outline recent actions by the EU's General Affairs and External Relations Council to tighten sanctions, including more targeted measures. The European Commission will shortly make public the implementing language, in advance of the Summit. The MFA Advisor told post that the formal EU-ASEAN joint statement will call for national reconciliation in Burma and urge dialogue with the opposition and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Other issues to be discussed include human rights, energy, climate change and trade.
4. (C/NF) A senior MFA official expressed frustration that she had spent more time recently on logistics rather than substance. She explained that Singapore, due to EU member-state insistence, had agreed to host all 27 member-states in what was originally scheduled to be an EU Troika-ASEAN Summit. However, she noted that certain member-states later decided to send lower ranking officials and were upset that they were not receiving equal treatment with those sending their country's highest representative. She was troubled by these member states' refusal to recognize the importance Asians place on protocol, forcing Portugal to demand equal treatment for all delegations, a point to which the Singaporeans later acquiesced.
No Substantive Progress Expected during EU-China Summit
5. (C/NF) The EU-China Summit agenda is full of meaty topics including climate change, energy, trade, and human rights. Our MFA contact conceded that neither side expected much movement, with each one reiterating well-known positions on the issues. She lamented the EU's general, rather than targeted, approach to issues, particularly on human rights and noted that they would not be raising specific Chinese cases. The EU would, however, encourage China to weigh in heavily with Burma to improve the situation there.
6. (C) Our MFA contact predicted that there would be no movement on lifting the arms embargo or granting China ""market economy"" status during the Summit. Regarding the former, she suggested that the issue would be taken up seriously during the French EU Presidency. She predicted that the French would continue to oppose lifting the embargo, as they had under President Chirac, but she acknowledged uncertainty about Sarkozy's position on this issue. Our contact said China still had many WTO obligations to fulfill before achieving ""market economy"" status. Both sides would also continue to renegotiate a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which would likely be signed during the French Presidency as well. The EU hoped to move stalled LISBON 00002960 002 OF 002 aviation talks forward during the Summit.
7. (C) In response to China's request to condemn Taiwan?s upcoming UN membership referendum, the EU will reiterate its well-known one-China policy and its desire for stability in the region. The two sides will also discuss concrete cooperation in Africa, pursuant to the EU's October letter to Premier Wen Jia Bao to work together on the continent. Other regional issues to be discussed include North Korea, the Middle East, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.
8. (U) Five-hundred European and Chinese businessmen are also expected to attend the fourth EU-China Business Summit , which will run concurrently with the heads of state/government gathering. Portugal and China also plan to hold bilateral meetings on November 29, focused mostly on trade and cultural exchanges.
EU-India: Nothing Concrete on the Agenda
9. (C) Our MFA contact underscored that the EU-India Summit's focus was on ""maintaining political dialogue,"" noting that the agenda itself was short. She did not expect any concrete outcome to the wide-ranging discussions on energy, climate change, Doha, disarmament, counter-terrorism nor did she expect substantive discussion on any of the regional issues, beyond the well-known positions of each. She said that the two sides did expect to make progress on the Free Trade Negotiations currently under discussion, with the expectation the agreement would be signed under the French Presidency. The EU had pressed to negotiate a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement that would include nonproliferation issues, but India declined, saying the old agreement remains valid.
10. (U) Portugal expects to sign four agreements with India during a follow-on bilateral summit with India on December 1 -- on commerce, sports/football, cultural heritage/restoration, and education.
11. (C) Portugal has its sights set on the December 8-9 EU-Africa Summit which it views as the crowning achievement of its Presidency, Mugabe?s presence notwithstanding, and official hearts and minds appear focused primarily on that summit. The three upcoming Asia Summits are important in their own right, but the Portuguese appear to view them as an opportunity primarily to maintain a political dialogue and make incremental progress on key issues.