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Cablegate: France/Lebanon: French Presidency Positive But

VZCZCXRO2010
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #0988/01 1441337
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231337Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3125
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0094
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3870

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000988

SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/GAVITO/YERGER/ZARATE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KDEM KPAL FR LE SY IS
SUBJECT: FRANCE/LEBANON: FRENCH PRESIDENCY POSITIVE BUT
NOT NAIVE ABOUT DOHA ACCORD, WANTS ONGOING U.S./FRENCH
CONSULTATION ON IMPLEMENTATION

PARIS 00000988 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Acting Political Minister Counselor Andrew Young for rea
sons 1.4. (b), (d).

1. (C) French Presidency NEA adviser Boris Boillon told us
May 22 that the GOF regarded the recently Doha accord on
Lebanon as mostly favorable to the March 8 opposition but not
entirely so. Most important, he stressed, the agreement
stopped the fighting and got the political process for
addressing Lebanese political differences back on track.
Hizballah and Syria may have "won" overall, but they fell
short of achieving their maximal goals. Boillon agreed with
those analysts who inter alia believe that recent events have
largely sealed the fate of Michel Aoun, who will rapidly
become irrelevant in the Christian community once Sleiman is
elected. The important thing now, he argued, was to do
everything to ensure the accord was properly applied,
Lebanese state institutions were further strengthened, and
the U.S. and France remain united as they deal with the
follow-on. Boillon cautioned against describing the outcome
of the Doha talks in terms of winners and losers, maintaining
instead the need to keep the focus on strengthening Lebanese
state institutions and not appearing to favor any side.

2. (C) With respect to the preserving U.S./French unity,
Boillon referred to a phone call the previous evening between
French Presidency diplomatic adviser Levitte and NSA Hadley.
He observed that Levitte sought to emphasize the positive
points in the accord and project "enthusiasm" in its
implementation, contrasted with what he claimed were concerns
on Hadley's part that the opposition had obtained too much
and that the agreement constituted a "loss" or setback for
March 14 and western interests in Lebanon. Despite its
outward public enthusiasm, Boillon confided that the GOF has
no illusions about the situation. The factions may have
ceased fire but the danger remains because of the
irresponsibility of Lebanon's political leaders. This was
most evident with respect to the March 8 side, taking its
orders from Damascus and Tehran, but also applied to March
14. As the GOF's public statements have emphasized, there is
currently no choice but to give wholehearted endorsement to
the Doha accord and the Arab League-led process to achieve a
durable resolution of outstanding political disagreements.
Boillon praised the Qataris for having pulled off something
more cynical observers in the GOF did not think they were
capable of accomplishing.

3. (C) French FM Kouchner will fly to Beirut to be there
for the presidential election May 25. Boillon explained that
French President Sarkozy had considered going but changed his
mind in part because the date would coincide with "Liberation
Day" (i.e., the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from
southern Lebanon in 200). Sarkozy had absolutely no
intention of being in Beirut the same day Hizballah SecGen
Nasrallah gave a triumphal speech. (NB: This was before
word filtered out that Hizballah had decided to postpone its
"festivities" until May 26.) With a sneer, Boillon accused
Lebanese parliament of having chosen this date
"intentionally." He confirmed, however, that Sarkozy intends
to visit Beirut to congratulate Sleiman after his election.
(Comment: Boillon was ambiguous as to timing, but Sarkozy's
schedule and things Boillon said later suggested it would not
occur before late next week. End comment) Sarkozy would not
have a detailed message for Sleiman, but, when pressed,
Boillon said Sarkozy would do more than shake hands and smile
for the camera. He imagined Sarkozy would point out that the
world had high expectations in terms of Sleiman's commitment
to implementing the Doha accord and safeguarding the
integrity of the Lebanese state.

4. (C) In terms of next diplomatic steps, Boillon affirmed
French skepticism about the utility of seeking significant
UNSC action on Lebanon at the moment. He agreed with our
view that the formation of a new Lebanese government will
take some time. Given the fragile state of things, he
contended it would be inadvisable to push measures through
the UNSC that would allow March 8 to ratchet up tension anew
with the risk of renewed violence. Boillon also reasserted
the now-standard French line about the UNSC suffering from
"Lebanon fatigue." He thus added his voice to the French
chorus of those who doubt we could get the nine votes needed
to pass a UNSCR calling for significant action, and he
dismissed out of hand passing anything beyond a general
statement of support for the Doha accord at this time. Any

PARIS 00000988 002.2 OF 002


explicit link between implementing the Doha accord and
previously adopted UNSCRs dealing with Hizballah's weapons
would be tricky in New York and potentially dangerous in
Beirut. Boillon saw no prospect for a UNSCR in the
foreseeable future -- i.e., not before formation of a new
government and possibly passage of a new election law) that
would address any of the key ) and delicate -- issues.

5. (C) We flagged for Boillon the possibility that
Washington may once again ask EU member states to designate
Hizballah a terrorist organization in light of the events of
recent weeks. He reiterated what we have consistently heard
from MFA DAS-equivalent for the Levant Ludovic Pouille,
namely that designating Hizballah was completely out of the
question for France. Boillon rehashed a number of familiar
French arguments for not designating Hizballah, most notably
to allow the GOF to maintain contact with a political
movement that, despite its terrorist aspect (which Boillon
noted the GOF has cited on numerous occasions, including by
Sarkozy and Kouchner), represents at least 20 percent of the
Lebanese population and is the principal Shi'a
representative. He contrasted the GOF position towards
Hizballah and Hamas. The latter, according to Boillon, had
not formed as a political movement but had taken on political
aspects as it evolved from being a group dedicated to
violence and terrorism during the Intifada. Hamas' charter,
moreover, was less political and more focused on carrying out
violence as well as the elimination of Israel. Returning to
his concern about timing any potentially tough action during
this delicate period, Boillon offered the view that U.S.
encouragement to designate Hizballah now would be poorly
received within the EU as well as in Lebanon. (Comment: We
did not have time to argue with many of the historical and
logical fallacies in Boillon's argument, some of which may
stem from his ignorance of Hizballah's and Hamas' histories.
In any case, his bottom line on French opposition to any
attempt to secure an EU designation of Hizballah as a
terrorist organization is pretty clear cut. End comment)

6. (C) Boillon expressed eagerness to continue the ongoing
U.S./French dialogue on the way forward in Lebanon. He
agrees that a meeting between senior level USG and GOF
officials in Paris or Washington as soon as possible would
help clear the air in terms of our differing perceptions of
the various components necessary for preserving a stable,
independent, and free Lebanon.

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm

STAPLETON

VZCZCXRO2010
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #0988/01 1441337
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231337Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3125
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0094
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3870

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