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Cablegate: French Views of Afghanistan's Political Future

O 160512Z OCT 01
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9246
INFO ALL EUROPEAN UNION POST COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY ALMATY
AMEMBASSY ANKARA
AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMEMBASSY BERLIN
AMEMBASSY BISHKEK
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
AMEMBASSY DOHA
AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE SUSTEL
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
AMEMBASSY RIYADH
AMEMBASSY ROME
AMEMBASSY TASHKENT
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
USEU BRUSSELS
USMISSION USNATO
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 011204

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2011
TAGS: AF FR PK PREL
SUBJECT: FRENCH VIEWS OF AFGHANISTAN'S POLITICAL FUTURE

REF: STATE 176819

CLASSIFIED BY: CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL MINISTER COUNSELOR SHARON WIENER
FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D).

1. (C) WE DELIVERED REFTEL POINTS TO FOREIGN MINISTER
VEDRINE'S OFFICE AND TO MFA AFGHAN DESK OFFICER BRUCE BOURDON
ON OCTOBER 11 AND FOLLOWED-UP WITH A MEETING WITH BOURDON ON
OCTOBER 12. BOURDON TOLD US THAT THE FRENCH WERE ENGAGED IN
DISCUSSIONS WITH THEIR EU PARTNERS REGARDING AFGHANISTAN'S
POLITICAL FUTURE. HE NOTED THESE DISCUSSIONS HAD BEEN
STIMULATED IN PART BY FOREIGN MINISTER HUBERT VEDRINE'S
ACTION PLAN FOR AFGHANISTAN. HOWEVER, HE ADDED THAT THE
FRENCH HAVE NOT YET RECEIVED ANY SPECIFIC COMMENTS,
DOCUMENTS, OR PROPOSALS ABOUT WHERE TO GO NEXT IN AFGHANISTAN
FROM THEIR EU PARTNERS. BOURDON SAID THIS LACK OF RESPONSE
WAS PROBABLY DUE TO SEVERAL FACTORS: INSUFFICIENT TIME TO
RESPOND, UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE DIRECTION THE WAR IN
AFGHANISTAN WOULD TAKE, AND, THE CURRENT HEAVY TRAVEL
SCHEDULE OF SENIOR MFA OFFICIALS. BOURDON NOTED VEDRINE WAS
VISITING ROME WHERE HE WILL BE MEETING WITH FORMER KING
MOHAMMED ZAHIR SHAH, WHILE THE MFA'S DIRECTOR FOR ASIA,
DOMINIQUE GIRARD, IS VISITING WASHINGTON. TONGUE IN CHEEK,
BOURDON COMMENTED THAT GIVEN GIRARD'S VISIT TO WASHINGTON, IT
WAS LIKELY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT WOULD KNOW MORE ABOUT FRANCE'S
POSITION ON AFGHANISTAN THAN HE WOULD. BOURDON, HOWEVER,
MADE CLEAR THAT IN TRYING TO DEVELOP A POSITION ON
AFGHANISTAN'S POLITICAL FUTURE, FRANCE WAS PAYING PARTICULAR
ATTENTION TO THE OPINIONS OF THE GERMANS, BRITISH, AND
ITALIANS. THE FRENCH WILL LISTEN POLITELY TO OTHER EU
MEMBERS, BUT IT IS THOSE THREE COUNTRIES WHO ARE MOST
INVOLVED IN THE CRISIS AND CONTRIBUTING THE MOST FINANCIALLY.

2. (C) BOURDON SAID HE DID NOT EXPECT ANYONE TO BE ABLE TO
DEVELOP A COHERENT POSITION UNTIL THE COURSE OF THE WAR IN
AFGHANISTAN BECAME A BIT CLEARER. HE EXPLAINED THAT THE
FRENCH WERE WATCHING DEVELOPMENTS CLOSELY TO SEE WHETHER THE
TALIBAN COLLAPSED OR IF THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO HANG ON TO
POWER FOR SOME TIME. WHILE THE FRENCH HOPE FOR A QUICK
COLLAPSE AND A RAPID CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES, THERE IS SOME
CONCERN THAT IN A WORST CASE, THE CONFLICT COULD DRAG ON
THROUGH THE END OF THIS YEAR AND WELL INTO 2002. BOURDON
NOTED THE FRENCH WERE ALSO KEEPING AN EYE ON PAKISTANI
BEHAVIOR TOWARDS AFGHANISTAN AND THE TALIBAN. HE EXPLAINED
THAT THE FRENCH WERE UNCERTAIN WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT OF
PAKISTAN WOULD ALLOW THE TALIBAN TO CRUMBLE, OR WHETHER THE
GOP, OR A ROGUE ELEMENT OF THE GOP, WOULD FIND SOME MEANS TO
PROVIDE COVERT SUPPORT TO THE TALIBAN. UNSURE ABOUT WHAT
COMES NEXT, THE FRENCH NEVERTHELESS BELIEVE THE GOP NEEDS TO
BE INVOLVED IN DECISIONS RELATING TO AFGHANISTAN'S FUTURE AND
THAT IT IS CRUCIAL TO FIND AFGHAN PASHTUNS WHO CAN PLAY A
PROMINENT ROLE.

3. (C) BOURDON SAID THE FRENCH BELIEVED FORMER KING
MOHAMMED ZAHIR SHAH WILL ONLY BE ABLE TO PLAY A VERY LIMITED
ROLE. HE MAY BE ABLE TO PROVIDE THE IMPETUS TO START A
DIALOGUE, LOYA JIRGA, BUT HE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DO THINGS
HIMSELF. THE FRENCH ALSO BELIEVE WE, WESTERN COUNTRIES,
SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO NOT TRY TO IMPOSE ANY DECISIONS FROM THE
OUTSIDE. THERE MIGHT BE A SMALL SUPERVISORY ROLE FOR THE
UNITED NATIONS, BUT THERE SHOULD NOT BE ANY EFFORT TO DEPLOY
A LARGER-SCALE UN MISSION A LA KOSOVO OR EAST TIMOR. A LARGE
UN MISSION SIMPLY WOULD NOT WORK AND IT WOULD QUICKLY BECOME
IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVIDE ANY KIND OF SECURITY FOR A LARGE UN
MISSION. THE FRENCH SEE THE UN'S ROLE AS MINIMAL, SIMPLY
BEING A PRESENCE TO URGE FOLLOW-UP TO DECISIONS MADE BY
AFGHANS.

4. (C) WHEN ASKED ABOUT VEDRINE'S OCTOBER 10 MEETING WITH
LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, BOURDON (PLEASE PROTECT) REPLIED THAT
VEDRINE WAS UP TO HIS USUAL TRICKS. HE EXPLAINED THE
VEDRINE-BRAHIMI MEETING HAD BEEN A TETE-A-TETE AND VEDRINE
DID NOT BOTHER TO BRIEF ANYONE IN THE MFA ABOUT THEIR
CONVERSATION. BOURDON SAID THE ONLY THING HE KNEW CAME FROM
ONE OF VEDRINE'S PROTOCOL OFFICERS WHO ESCORTED BRAHIMI TO
THE MEETING. THE PROTOCOL OFFICER SAID BRAHIMI EXPRESSED THE
VIEW THAT PAKISTAN WOULD NEED TO PLAY A ROLE IN REACHING AN
AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE AND ZAHIR SHAH'S
SUPPORTERS. BRAHIMI ALSO EXPRESSED CONCERNS ABOUT SECURITY
FOR THE PERSONNEL OF UN AGENCIES AND NGOS AFTER THE U.S.
DOES ITS JOB. BRAHIMI SAID HE SAW NO WAY TO PREVENT
INSTABILITY AND HAD NO SUGGESTIONS REGARDING HOW TO CHANGE
THIS. A MEMBER OF FM VEDRINE'S STAFF ADDED THAT BRAHIMI TOLD
VEDRINE THAT HE WAS APPROCHING HIS NEW RESPONSIBILITIES WITH
NO PRECONCEPTIONS.


LEACH

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