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Cablegate: Ambassador Discusses Iraq with President Halonen

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000262

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2013
TAGS: PREL PGOV IZ CH FI
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES IRAQ WITH PRESIDENT HALONEN

REF: HELSINKI 248

CLASSIFIED BY: POL CHIEF JOHN HALL, REASONS 1.5(B) AND (D)

1. (C) ON MARCH 4 THE AMBASSADOR CALLED ON PRESIDENT HALONEN
FOR A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF ISSUES ON THE INTERNATIONAL AND
BILATERAL AGENDA. IRAQ WAS THE CHIEF TOPIC. THE AMBASSADOR
BEGAN BY THANKING THE PRESIDENT FOR HER RECENT FIRM PUBLIC
STATEMENTS THAT THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR RESOLVING THE CRISIS
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 HELSIN 00262 071504Z
LIES WITH SADDAM, NOT WITH THE UN, THE U.S., OR OTHERS.

2. (C) THE PRESIDENT REITERATED HER BELIEF THAT IRAQI
COMPLIANCE WITH UNSC RESOLUTIONS IS THE KEY TO THE PROBLEM.
AT THE SAME TIME, SHE STRESSED THAT THE MAJORITY OF FINNS
OPPOSE DISARMING SADDAM BY FORCE. AN ANTI-WAR PETITION
SIGNED BY TEN THOUSAND PEOPLE HAD BEEN DELIVERED TO THE
PRESIDENTIAL PALACE DURING THE DAY-LONG DEMONSTRATIONS
FEBRUARY 15. THE AMBASSADOR CONGRATULATED FINLAND ON BEING A
COUNTRY THAT WELCOMES DISSENT -- AND CONGRATULATED THE FINNS
ON THEIR ABILITY TO DISSENT IN AN ORDERLY WAY. THE PRESIDENT
LAUGHED, "YES, WE FINNS ARE ORDERLY."

3. (C) HALONEN ALSO VOICED FINNISH CONCERN ABOUT THE
AFTERMATH OF A CONFLICT, ESPECIALLY ITS EFFECT ON THE
DEVELOPING NATIONS OF THE REGION. IT IS CRITICAL THAT THE
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY REACH OUT TO NATIONS WHERE POVERTY IS
RAMPANT -- WE NEED TO FIND WAYS TO MAKE CONNECTIONS. THE
PRESIDENT ALSO EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT THE IMPACT ON THE
POLITICAL STRUCTURES OF NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES, EMPHASIZING
THAT SHE WAS NOT WORRIED ABOUT IRAN. (SHE SEEMED TO BE
REFERRING IN PARTICULAR TO SAUDI ARABIA.) THE AMBASSADOR
SAID THE UNITED STATES IS EQUALLY CONCERNED ABOUT ECONOMIC
AND POLITICAL STABILITY, BOTH WITHIN IRAQ AND IN THE REGION,
AND WAS COMMITTED TO A VISION OF A FUTURE OF HOPE FOR ALL OF
THE MIDDLE EAST. IN THIS CONNECTION, WE APPRECIATE FINLAND'S
PUBLICLY-STATED WILLINGNESS TO PARTICIPATE IN RECONSTRUCTION
IN IRAQ, WITH HUMANITARIAN AID AND PEACEKEEPERS.

4. (C) THE PRESIDENT ASKED WHETHER THE AMBASSADOR THOUGHT A
CONFLICT WAS INEVITABLE. THE AMBASSADOR SAID SHE HAD
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 HELSIN 00262 071504Z
OBSERVED THAT DIPLOMATS OFTEN ANSWER A QUESTION WITH A
QUESTION. FOLLOWING THAT MODEL, SHE ASKED WHETHER THE
PRESIDENT THOUGHT SADDAM HAD ANY INTENTION OF FULLY
DISARMING. IT SEEMS HISTORY IS REPEATING ITSELF: IF HE DID
NOT HONOR THE FIRST UNSC RESOLUTION ON IRAQ, WHAT IS THE
CHANCE THAT HE WILL HONOR THE EIGHTEENTH?

5. (C) THE PRESIDENT AND THE AMBASSADOR ALSO BRIEFLY
DISCUSSED HALONEN'S BUSY SCHEDULE OF INTERNATIONAL VISITS
OVER THE PAST YEAR. PRESIDENT HALONEN SAID AGAIN HOW MUCH
SHE APPRECIATED PRESIDENT BUSH'S MEETING WITH HER LAST APRIL,
AND THANKED THE AMBASSADOR FOR HELPING ARRANGE THE VISIT,
ALONG WITH CALLS ON JUSTICE O'CONNOR AND SENATOR HELMS. IT
IS CLEAR HALONEN IS ALSO STILL THINKING ABOUT HER VISIT TO
CHINA LAST NOVEMBER. SHE SAID THAT FOR MANY NATIONS THE
FUTURE LIES IN WORKING WITH CHINA. STILL THERE REMAINS MUCH
FOR THE CHINESE TO DO IN THE HUMAN RIGHTS FIELD. SHE NOTED
THAT SHE HAD BEEN CRITICIZED FOR NOT TAKING A STRONGER STANCE
ON THIS ISSUE DURING HER VISIT. THE AMBASSADOR SAID THE SAME
APPLIES TO IRAQ -- WHO HAS BEEN CONCERNED ABOUT THE HUMAN
RIGHTS OF THE IRAQI PEOPLE? WHERE IS THE INTERNATIONAL
OUTRAGE OVER THE ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY SADDAM AGAINST HIS
OWN PEOPLE?

6. (C) COMMENT: WE ARE STRUCK BY HOW MUCH MORE MODERATE
PRESIDENT HALONEN'S PUBLIC STATEMENTS ARE TODAY THAN EVEN TWO
YEARS AGO. ALTHOUGH FINLAND REMAINS A NON-ALIGNED NATION --
AND MANY FINNS REMAIN OUTRIGHT PACIFISTS -- HALONEN HAS MADE
CLEAR IN A HIGH-PROFILE WAY HER VIEW THAT THE HEAT MUST BE
KEPT ON SADDAM. IN DECEMBER SHE AND PM LIPPONEN TOGETHER
APPROVED FINLAND'S PUBLIC COMMITMENT TO AIDING IN
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 HELSIN 00262 071504Z
POST-CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION IN IRAQ, AT A TIME WHEN NOT THAT
MANY NATIONS HAD COME FORWARD WITH SUCH A COMMITMENT. TO
SOME EXTENT, SHE IS PROBABLY TRYING TO CLOSE RANKS WITH
LIPPONEN, SINCE ELECTIONS ARE IMMINENT (MARCH 16). AND
LIPPONEN HAS INDEED MADE USE OF HER STATEMENTS, ANSWERING
OPPOSITION CRITICISM OF FINLAND'S IRAQ STANCE BY SAYING HIS
GOVERNMEN IS IN LINE WITH THE PRESIDENT'S POLICY (REFTEL).
MCELVEEN-HUNTER

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