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Cablegate: Italy: Pd Leader Veltroni Sees No Foreign Policy

VZCZCXRO0028
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHRO #0246/01 0591627
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 281627Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9892
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHFL/AMCONSUL FLORENCE 2918
RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN 9259
RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES 3070

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ROME 000246

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL IT

SUBJECT: ITALY: PD LEADER VELTRONI SEES NO FOREIGN POLICY
DISAGREEMENTS WITH U.S. IF HE WINS ELECTIONS

ROME 00000246 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Ambassador Ronald P. Spogli for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).


SUMMARY
-------

1.(C/NF) Democratic Party (PD) PM candidate Walter Veltroni
told the Ambassador February 26 he did not think the U.S.
would have foreign policy disagreements with his government
should he win April 13-14 parliamentary elections. Free from
the constraints of the far left, Veltroni said his government
could more warmly embrace the Trans Atlantic relationship; do
more militarily in Afghanistan; be tougher on Iran; have
closer relations with Israel; and seek greater energy
independence from Russia. Veltroni was optimistic about his
chances for victory, though he did not rule out an eventual
agreement with former PM Silvio Berlusconi after the
elections. End Summary.


VELTRONI OPTIMISTIC ABOUT VICTORY
---------------------------------

2. (C/NF) The Ambassador hosted Democratic Party (PD)
Secretary and PM candidate Walter Veltroni for lunch February

SIPDIS
26. A relaxed and optimistic Veltroni styled himself as a
new brand of politician who is bridging the generational
divide between Italy's aging political class and its
disenfranchised youth. Veltroni said PD internal polls place
him at most six percentage points behind People of Liberty
(PdL) candidate Silvio Berlusconi and noted that he is
gaining a few points weekly. Veltroni conceded Italy's
complex electoral laws might force some sort of bipartisan
political arrangement between himself and Berlusconi, but he
did not envision any formal agreement on anything beyond
limited institutional and electoral reforms.

VELTRONI SEES NO FOREIGN POLICY DISAGREEMENTS
---------------------------------------------

3. (C/NF) Veltroni told the Ambassador that he did not think
the U.S. would have foreign policy disagreements with his
government should he win April 13-14 parliamentary elections.
Veltroni emphasized that his decision not to run in a
coalition with the far left would enable his government to
talk openly about the importance of the Trans Atlantic
relationship for Italy.

4. (C/NF) Iran: The Ambassador told Veltroni the U.S had a
mostly good relationship with current PM Prodi but said
Italy's Iran policy was the single most difficult issue.
Citing a September 2007 Veltroni op-ed calling for a
containment of Iran's nuclear ambitions, the Ambassador made
the case for economic sanctions and criticized the Prodi
government for its frequent high level meetings with Iranian
leaders. Veltroni stated that Iran represents a ""clear
threat,"" said continued sanctions are vital and agreed high
level meetings with Iranian officials weakens and undermines
the international community's message.

5. (C/NF) Afghanistan: Veltroni acknowledged the problems
NATO is facing in Afghanistan and said Italy can and will do
more there.

6. (C/NF) MEPP: Veltroni was harshly critical of D'Alema's
treatment of Israel, specifically saying that ""you cannot do
business with terrorist organizations"" like Hamas and
Hizbollah.

7. (C/NF) Cuba: The Ambassador showed Veltroni the statement
D'Alema issued congratulating Raul Castro on his assumption
of power in Cuba. Veltroni appeared embarrassed and said
that D'Alema's ideological background often shows through in
his statements.

8. (C/NF) Energy Security: The Ambassador told Veltroni that
Italy needs to worry about its energy security and is
becoming overly dependent on Russia for its energy needs.
Veltroni agreed that Italy must limit its energy dependence
on Russia and that Italy needs to develop a midterm solution
(4 -7 years) including the construction of re-gasification
plants and other infrastructure. Veltroni lamented that
environmental permits and overlapping bureaucracies slow down
project development and said he hopes to streamline the
process.


COMMENT
-------

9. (C/NF) The U.S relationship with the Prodi government has

ROME 00000246 002.2 OF 002

been good despite some significant differences on a few
issues. Veltroni outlined a relationship that would clearly
be better if he is indeed able to govern free from the
influence of the far left. End Comment.
SPOGLI
"

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