Cablegate: Senior Brazilian Diplomat Talks Middle East Peace, Iran, Zimbabwe
DE RUEHBR #0851/01 1721935
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 201935Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1926
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0297
RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6871
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5595
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RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7401
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0390
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RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 2263
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BRASILIA 000851
NSC FOR ELLIOTT ABRAMS AND GARY TOMASULO; DEPARTMENT FOR
S/P, WHA, NEA, AND AF
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/19/2018
TAGS: PREL MNUC IR XF ZU BR
SUBJECT: SENIOR BRAZILIAN DIPLOMAT TALKS MIDDLE EAST PEACE, IRAN, ZIMBABWE
REF: A. STATE 55816 B. BRASILIA 809 C. BRASILIA 009 D. BRASILIA 064 Classified By: Ambassador Clifford M. Sobel, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (C) In an office call June 9, the Ambassador discussed Brazil's policies in the Middle East and Africa with Ministry of External Relations (MRE) Under Secretary for Political Affairs (II), Ambassador Roberto Jaguaribe. Jaguaribe described an intensifying series of reciprocal visits with Middle Eastern countries over the next six months, including a visit by President Lula to the region and visits to Brazil by the king of Jordan and president of Syria. Jaguaribe reiterated Brazil's view that all players should be engaged in the Middle East peace process, and that Brazil's sees its ability to talk to all parties as a "useful role." He reiterated Brazil's view that engagement is the right approach with Iran, expressing some frustration with the UNSC approach to addressing Iran's nuclear ambitions while acknowledging that Iran needed to abide by UNSC decisions. Jaguaribe informed the Ambassador that Brazil will send observers to the run-off elections in Zimbabwe. He indicated that he is eager to engage the USG further in discussions on both the Middle East and Africa. Post believes such engagement would prove useful to U.S. interests.
--------------- Middle East: Reciprocal Visits to Intensify --------------
2. (C) The Ambassador, joined by PolCouns, called on Jaguaribe following the two meetings Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Antonio Patriota had with NEA A/S Welch and AF A/S Frazer. Jaguaribe was joined by MRE Middle East Department head Ambassador Sarkis Karmirian and Levant Division chief Minister Rodrigo do Amaral Souza. At the outset of the meeting, Jaguaribe commented that the Iraqi Trade Minister was in Brasilia, and would soon be followed by the Iraqi Planning Minister. Jaguaribe confirmed reports that the king of Jordan would be visiting this year. He later mentioned that Syrian President Assad had also accepted an invitation to visit Brazil for later in the year.
3. (C) Jaguaribe told the Ambassador that he was planning to go to the Middle East in November or December, saying he had given less attention to it than the other regions he covers (Africa and Asia) because Brazil's special envoy for the Middle East, Amb. Affonso Celso de Ouro-Preto, travels there frequently. He said that it is unlikely now that FM Celso Amorim would visit the region again "for specific bilateral purposes," but confirmed that President Lula had tentatively planned a trip for later in the year and that Amorim would accompany him. According to Jaguaribe, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Jordan are on the tentative list of stops. He said additional stops were unlikely, adding that Brazil's municipal elections in October, as well as the IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa) summit in Delhi in October, the Africa-South America summit in Caracas in November, and the international renewable energy summit Brazil is hosting in November, will make for a busy second half of the year, and the Middle East trip might be pushed back to early 2009, when President Lula will likely travel to Doha for the ASSA (Arab States-South America) summit.
----------- Middle East Peace: Solution Requires Engaging "All Players" -----------
4. (C) Jaguaribe told the Ambassador that he was "still encouraged" regarding the Annapolis process, but that he is hearing from regional and other key actors who are in a "somber mood" because of a "lack of progress on issues of
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importance to the Palestinians." He cited the new construction by Israel, and the Ambassador noted that the Secretary had spoken out strongly on that. In Jaguaribe's view, the Palestinian Authority was counting on the peace process to deliver and undermine Hamas. This was not happening, and there is an "increasing perception that Abu Mazen is losing his grip." Jaguaribe noted the "positive development" regarding Israel's negotiations with Syria, suggesting that this has now replaced Annapolis as the "defining issue" moving the peace process forward. But he suggested that achieving results from these and the other negotiations Israel is undertaking would be difficult without leadership of the right "stature" there.
5. (C) Jaguaribe described the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as the "core issue" of the region, one which touches every other issue in the Middle East. For this reason, he suggested, a "more differentiated" approach will be necessary than in the past. He said that Brazil does not see itself as having a major role to play in the peace process, but the GOB has been "called by some parties," and particularly "our Lebanese friends," to get more involved. He said Brazil is "available" to help, and believes it presents a "credible face to all actors."
6. (C) Jaguaribe stressed that without all relevant players, including Hamas, Hizballah, and Iran, there could be no lasting solution. The Ambassador noted that we have been clear that it is not a question of whether to talk with the different parties, but under what conditions. He noted that the issue of what dialogue to undertake in the Middle East is very sensitive and now the subject of public debate in the United States, including by our presidential candidates. Jaguaribe indicating he was following the U.S. debate on the issue, but reiterated that it was Brazil's view that it is important to talk with all the players. "It is useful to everyone," he added, "that some countries can do that." The Ambassador asked if Brazil still hoped to hold a meeting of Israeli and Palestinian civil society actors. Jaguaribe said they believe it is a good idea to engage non-governmental actors as an additional channel for opening discussion, but indicated there are no specific plans to organize a meeting at this point.
------------ Iran: Brazil Favors Frank Engagement ------------
7. (C) The Ambassador raised the importance of pushing Iran in the right direction with regard to its nuclear ambitions and said that we hope Brazil will remain sensitive to the signals it is sending. Jaguaribe said that Brazil's relations with Iran were, first, based on a "significant" trade relationship. Brazil does not have the level of trade that Japan, Italy, Germany, and other EU countries have with Iran, he said, nor does it buy much in the way of Iranian imports, as EU countries do. But Brazil does sell two billion dollars in exports to Iran per year. He said that Petrobras is "very careful" in its dealings with Iran because it is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and Brazil is careful to comply with UNSC resolutions, "even when we disagree with them." Brazil understands Iran's interest in developing "legitimate" nuclear capabilities, and shares concerns about the "corollary" capabilities Iran may be trying to develop. However, Brazil is concerned that the current approach to Iran essentially "questions the NPT" by suggesting that the safeguards in it are not sufficient. Brazil is "a party to the NPT, but not a fan of it," he said, and the problem with Iran has pointed to one of the weaknesses in the NPT.
8. (C) Jaguaribe said that they had had "a very frank discussion" with Iran recently. They told the Iranians that Brazil's nuclear program was not an issue in South America
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because Brazil has achieved a "level of confidence" in the region. Iran needs to do the same before it can expect to proceed without problems. The Iranians complained that they had been singled out by the UNSC when "Israel has an arsenal of bombs," and argued that these matters should be dealt with in the IAEA, not the UNSC. According to Jaguaribe, they told the Iranians that Brazil agrees, but that "the Security Council decides what is a security issue and we must abide by its decisions."
9. (C) Jaguaribe concluded that it is Brazil's view that engagement, not isolation, is the appropriate approach to Iran. With the exception of Israel, he said, Iran is the "most democratic country in the Middle East"--restricted still, of course, but better than others in the region. Although Iranian President Ahmedinejad's rhetoric is clearly outrageous in some cases, Brazil sees this as domestic posturing, adding that Ahmedinejad's position is only helped by "creating conflict." With thousands of years of history behind them, the Iranians are very self-conscious regarding their importance, Jaguaribe said, and it is important to pay attention to that. The Ambassador stressed the importance of not providing positive reinforcement to Ahmedinejad's rhetoric and giving him the opportunity to say that he has Brazil's support. He said that the EU has tried dialogue and not had much success, and noted that Iran has made a conscious decision to sacrifice full development of its oil wealth in the interest of pursuing its nuclear ambitions. Jaguaribe acknowledged an "enormous effort" by Iran to engage Brazil, but said Brazil has been clear with Iran that Iran must make a move if the current impasse is to be overcome.
-------------------- Brazil Wants to Deepen Bilateral Discussion on Middle East --------------------
10. (C) In light of the meeting between Ambassador Patriota and NEA A/S Welch, Jaguaribe said that he hoped to be able to travel to Washington in September to continue the dialogue with us. The Ambassador encouraged this, adding that he was hoping that we could bring a senior-level USG official to Brazil in the next few months to deepen the dialogue further on Middle East issues.
------------------ Africa: Observers to Zimbabwe; Interest in Discussions ------------------
11. (C) In a similar vein, Jaguaribe said he was pleased to hear from Ambassador Patriota that AF A/S Frazer would visit Brazil to talk about cooperation in Africa. He informed the Ambassador that, at South Africa's insistence, Brazil had decided to send observers to Zimbabwe for the June 27 run-off election as part of the SADC delegation (refs A and B). He added that the first-round elections had been "exceptionally good" by African standards.
--------------------- Comment: More Evidence that Brazil is Stepping Out ---------------------
12. (C) As with his discussion last fall with WHA A/S Shannon (ref C), Jaguaribe showed himself to be an open and informative interlocutor who is clearly on top of his brief. Post will continue to engage him and his staff, and believes that discussion between him and both NEA and AF would prove useful to U.S. interests.
13. (C) Jaguaribe's comments confirm our impressions that Brazil is feeling increasingly confident engaging on the Middle East (septel) and Africa (ref D). In our view, the sense of empowerment that Brazilians feel as a result of being included in the Annapolis process can be used, to a limited degree, to help keep them on track in their
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pronouncements. It is important for the GOB to understand clearly where our redlines lie as they increase their engagement.
14. (C) It is also interesting that, according to Jaguaribe, it was South Africa's approach that was decisive in obtaining Brazil's agreement to send observers to Zimbabwe. This suggests that approaches through Brazil's new developing-country partners may be valuable with regard to Brazilian participation in non-traditional areas such as peacekeeping in Darfur.