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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Franco-American Relations: Fm

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 002989

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY; BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU; AF/PA;
EUR/WE /P/SP; D/C (MCCOO); EUR/PA; INR/P; INR/EUC; PM; OSC ISA
FOR ILN; NEA; WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE; DOC FOR ITA/EUR/FR
AND PASS USTR/PA; USINCEUR FOR PAO; NATO/PA; MOSCOW/PA;
ROME/PA; USVIENNA FOR USDEL OSCE.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - FRANCO-AMERICAN RELATIONS: FM
BARNIER TO WASHINGTON
PARIS - TUESDAY, MAY 03, 2005

(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

FRANCO-AMERICAN RELATIONS: FM BARNIER TO WASHINGTON

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

A WIDE VARIETY OF DOMESTIC STORIES APPEAR ON TODAY'S FRONT
PAGES, WITH LEFT-OF-CENTER LE MONDE THE ONLY EXCEPTION:
"LEBANON: THE DIFFICULT TASK OF RETURNING TO FREEDOM." LE
MONDE DEVOTES A REPORT TO LEBANON'S POLITICAL DIVISIONS, WHILE
IN AN INTERVIEW, THE LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER NAGIB MIQATI
SAYS, PRIOR TO HIS VISIT TO DAMASCUS: "IT IS NATURAL THAT MY
FIRST TRIP SHOULD BE TO DAMASCUS. IN THE INTEREST OF LEBANON
OUR RELATIONS WITH SYRIA MUST BE THE BEST POSSIBLE RELATIONS."
ON HEZBOLLAH HE ALSO ADDED: "THE DISARMING OF HEZBOLLAH IS A
STRICTLY DOMESTIC ISSUE."

THE EUROPEAN CONSTITUTION AND THE REFERENDUM CONTINUE TO
ELICIT ATTENTION. THE THREE LATEST POLLS SHOW THE "YES" IS
GAINING GROUND. THE ISPOS POLL FOR LE FIGARO AND EUROPE 1
RADIO SHOWS THAT 53 PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS WOULD VOTE "YES."
THIS IS THE FIRST POLL WHICH PUTS THE "YES" AHEAD, AFTER
TWENTY-THREE SUCH POLLS SINCE MID-MARCH. ACCORDING TO POPULAR
RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE PARISIEN 51 PERCENT OF RESPONDENTS WOULD
VOTE "YES." BUT FOR LIBERATION, THE "YES" VOTE RISES FROM 47
(IN MID-APRIL) TO 49 PERCENT, WHILE THE "NO," STILL IN THE
LEAD, DROPS TO 51 PERCENT. COMMENTATORS AGREE THAT THE TREND
HAS SHIFTED IN FAVOR OF THE `YES' FOR THE FIRST TIME. THIS
EVENING PRESIDENT CHIRAC WILL BE INTERVIEWED ON FRANCE 2
TELEVISION DURING THE 8PM EVENING NEWS BROADCAST.

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IN LEFT-OF-CENTER LIBERATION CORRESPONDENT PASCAL RICHE NOTES
THAT "THE U.S. PRESS IS IGNORING THE DEBATE ON THE EU
CONSTITUTION, ALTHOUGH IT IS VERY MUCH DISCUSSED AMONG THINK
TANKERS." HE QUOTES SECRETARY RICE: "THE U.S., SINCE THE
BEGINNING, HAS SUPPORTED EUROPEAN INTEGRATION."

FM BARNIER'S VISIT TO WASHINGTON, HIS IMPROMPTU MEETING WITH
PRESIDENT BUSH AND IMPROVED FRANCO-AMERICAN RELATIONS ARE THE
BASIS FOR TWO REPORTS IN LE FIGARO AND LIBERATION, WHICH USES
A QUOTE FROM FORMER AMBASSADOR LEACH IN ITS HEADLINE: "BETWEEN
FRANCE AND THE U.S., THE DAYS OF `BROKEN CHINA' ARE OVER." THE
ARTICLE MENTIONS THE NOMINATION OF AMBASSADOR-DESIGNATE CRAIG
STAPLETON. (SEE PART C)

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

FRANCO-AMERICAN RELATIONS: FM BARNIER TO WASHINGTON

"BARNIER TO WASHINGTON IN A PEACEFUL ATMOSPHERE"
PHILIPPE GELIE IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO (05/03): "BETWEEN
FRANCE AND THE U.S. THE RETURN TO ROUTINE VISITS IS IN ITSELF
A SIGN OF DIPLOMATIC SUCCESS. FM BARNIER'S QUICK STOP IN
WASHINGTON STANDS WITNESS TO CALMER BILATERAL RELATIONS.
BARNIER ALSO MET WITH THE PRESIDENT IN AN IMPROMPTU VISIT FOR
ABOUT A HALF HOUR. BARNIER'S ARRIVAL IN WASHINGTON DID NOT
MAKE NEWS IN THE LOCAL PRESS. AFTER TWO YEARS OF HARSH
RELATIONS THIS IS, IN ITSELF, A MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT. THE TONE OF
THE VISIT WAS ONE OF HARMONY AND COOPERATION. EVEN IF THERE
ARE NUANCES OF APPROACH TO CERTAIN ISSUES, AND EVEN SOME
DISSENSION BETWEEN THE TWO CAPITALS. WASHINGTON SUPPORTS
FRANCE'S DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS WITH IRAN, ALTHOUGH IT IS
CONVINCED THE DIALOGUE WITH TEHERAN IS VOWED TO FAIL, LEAVING
EUROPE NO ALTERNATIVE AS TO THE IDEA OF SANCTIONS. EVEN OVER
LEBANON THERE ARE DISAGREEMENTS. BUT ALLIANCES EXIST TO
OVERCOME THESE SMALL DISAGREEMENTS. RELATIONS WITH WASHINGTON
ARE IMPORTANT ENOUGH FOR THE FOREIGN MINISTER TO HAVE TAKEN
TIME OUT FROM THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE REFERENDUM. ON THIS ISSUE
SECRETARY RICE EXPRESSED `AMERICA'S SUPPORT FOR EUROPE'S

SIPDIS
INTEGRATION' AND EXPRESSED THE HOPE THAT THE `EUROPEAN PROJECT
WILL SUCCEED.'"

"NO MORE `BROKEN CHINA' BETWEEN FRANCE AND THE U.S."
PASCAL RICHE IN LEFT-OF-CENTER LIBERATION (05/03): "AFTER
BEING `THE IMPOSSIBLE ALLY' OF THE U.S., FRANCE IS DREAMING OF
BECOMING `THE INDISPENSABLE PARTNER.' WHILE LUNCHING WITH
SECRETARY RICE, FM BARNIER WAS SURPRISED BY AN INVITATION TO

SIPDIS
MEET WITH PRESIDENT BUSH FOR A HALF-HOUR. SEVERAL FRENCH
DIPLOMATS ARE ALREADY GLOATING: `IN THE END, WE ARE THE ONES
TO TAKE THE PLACE BLAIR WAS DREAMING OF. THAT OF A PRIVILEGED
PARTNER OF THE U.S. .' FOR MONTHS NOW FRANCE AND THE U.S. HAVE
TRIED TO RESOLVE, HIDE OR POSTPONE THEIR DIFFERENCES. THE TWO
COUNTRIES HAVE REACHED COMPROMISES ON SENSITIVE ISSUES, SUCH
AS THE TRIALS OF SUDANESE FOR MASSACRES IN DARFUR. IN EXCHANGE
THE FRENCH DID NOT OPPOSE THE NOMINATION OF PAUL WOLFOWITZ AT
THE WORLD BANK. TO QUOTE FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR LEACH, THE TWO
COUNTRIES ARE TRYING TO AVOID `BROKEN CHINA.' WITH LEACH'S
DEPARTURE, PRESIDENT BUSH HAS NOMINATED 55-YEAR-OLD CRAIG
STAPLETON TO REPLACE HIM. A WEALTHY BUSINESSMAN FROM
CONNECTICUT, STAPLETON HAS RAISED FUNDS FOR THE PRESIDENT'S
CAMPAIGN EVEN IF HE IS STILL A REGISTERED DEMOCRAT. HE WAS
AMBASSADOR TO PRAGUE FROM 2000 TO 2004, WHERE DIPLOMATIC
CAUTIOUSNESS WAS NOT WHAT HE WAS BEST KNOWN FOR." ROSENBLATT

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