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Cablegate: Italy: Pm Berlusconi in Broad Agreement On Key

VZCZCXRO4386
PP RUEHFL RUEHNP
DE RUEHRO #0726 1611152
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 091152Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0438
INFO RUEHFL/AMCONSUL FLORENCE 3074
RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN 9416
RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES 3223

S E C R E T ROME 000726

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2023
TAGS: PREL NATO ETRD IT
SUBJECT: ITALY: PM BERLUSCONI IN BROAD AGREEMENT ON KEY
FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES

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


E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2023
TAGS: PREL NATO ETRD IT

1. (C/NF) The Ambassador met June 6 with PM Silvio Berlusconi
and U/S Gianni Letta to frame issues President Bush may
discuss with Berlusconi during their June 12 bilateral
meeting in Rome. Berlusconi said he saw no problematic
issues in the U.S.-Italian relationship. In office for less
than one month, Berlusconi indicated his government's
thinking on several matters was still evolving.

2. (C/NF) The Ambassador said the President may discuss
lifting caveats in Afghanistan, increasing pressure on Iran,
Italian energy security, and Lebanon. Independently,
Berlusconi raised GMOs, which he described as "the only way
to feed the world," noting that the current situation had
reinforced his support for GMOs.

3. (S/NF) Afghanistan: The Ambassador thanked Berlusconi for
Italy's commitments in Afghanistan and urged Berlusconi to
lift caveats, especially geographic ones limiting freedom of
movement. The Ambassador noted these prevented Italian
Carabinieri from providing on-site training and mentoring to
Afghan police. Letta said the GOI was committed to
increasing operational flexibility for Italian soldiers
deployed to Afghanistan and was working on how it would do
that. The Ambassador also told Berlusconi that we continue
to receive disturbing reports of Italians paying-off local
warlords and other combatants. Berlusconi agreed this should
stop.

4. (C/NF) Iran: The Ambassador complimented Berlusconi for
the recent tough tone his government has taken on Iran and
said the President would want to discuss how to increase
pressure on the Iranian regime. Berlusconi called
Ahmadinejad a "crazy nut" who must be isolated and asked how
his government should respond to Italian companies asking
about doing business in Iran. The Ambassador replied firmly,
no new investments.

5. (C/NF) Energy Security: The Ambassador told Berlusconi the
President was keenly interested in energy security and
praised favorably recent positions taken by government
figures in support of nuclear power generation. He added that
while we are not anti-Russia, Europe's (including Italy's)
over-reliance on Russia for its energy needs was a serious
concern. Berlusconi agreed, saying his government will
pursue several avenues toward energy diversification while
noting that Italy's energy dependence required strong
relations with Russia.

6. (C/NF) Lebanon: The Ambassador told Berlusconi the
President would likely be interested in his views on Lebanon
and UNIFIL. Letta responded that the government was still
reviewing its thinking on Lebanon.

7. (C/NF) COMMENT: Berlusconi is very much looking forward to
the President's visit, sees himself and Italy as being on the
same page as the U.S., virtually across the board, and will
be ready to discuss all of the above issues with POTUS on
June 12.
SPOGLI

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