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Cablegate: Portuguese Views On the March Gaerc

VZCZCXRO0234
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHLI #0594 0701247
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101247Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6687
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KIEV 0171

UNCLAS LISBON 000594

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AF IR GG IS PREL PGOV PO
SUBJECT: PORTUGUESE VIEWS ON THE MARCH GAERC

REF: SECSTATE 22352

1. (SBU) Assistant EU Correspondent Pedro Severo de Almeida
responded to the reftel points with Portugal's views in
advance of March's GAERC meeting. He confirmed that the
ministers planned to discuss the Balkans, Middle East Peace
Process, Zimbabwe, Georgia, and Iran. He also noted the
possibility of a discussion on tensions between Colombia,
Ecuador, and Venezuela under other business depending on the
developments over the weekend of March 8-9.

2. (SBU) Western Balkans: Almeida acknowledged that Balkans
discussions could still be delicate given the split between
nations who have recognized Kosovo and those who have not.
He predicted that the conversation would focus on the mission
in Bosnia and the future of Republika Srpska rather than
Kosovo this month. Almeida also stressed that he had no
indication of when Portugal would recognize Kosovo.

3. (SBU) Middle East: Portugal agrees that it is important to
maintain the positive momentum from Annapolis despite the
recent violence in Israel and Gaza. Almeida noted that the
EU remains concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza
and plans to ask that Israel have a more "proportionate
response" to the attacks launched from Gaza.

4. (SBU) Zimbabwe: The ministers will review draft
conclusions on Zimbabwe, and may include language that offers
to revise sanctions if the elections comply with
international standards. He added that the GOZ agreed to let
accredited EU diplomats assigned to Zimbabwe serve as
observers during the elections. While Almeida recognized
that it was highly unlikely that Zimbabwe would hold free and
fair elections, the EU plans to offer the carrot of enhanced
engagement to see whether it can prompt a positive reaction
from Zimbabwean authorities.

5. (SBU) Georgia: Almeida said he understood that South
Ossetia was seeking Russian, EU, and UN support for its
independence. He predicted that the EU's discussion, which
had been slated to discuss visas, free trade, and confidence
building measures, would focus entirely on the independence
question. Almeida expressed concern that any new declaration
of independence would encourage some to say that Kosovo was
serving as a precedent.

6. (SBU) Iran: In addition to sanctions discussions, Almeida
stated that the meeting would cover the EU's concerns about
Iran's new penal code, narcotics cultivation, terrorism, and
human rights conditions.
Stephenson

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