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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Iraq - Saddam Trial Middle

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 007118

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 - Iraq - Saddam Trial Middle
East - Abbas to Paris- Washington
PARIS - Tuesday, October 18, 2005

(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

Iraq - Saddam Trial
Middle East - Abbas to Paris- Washington

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

Domestic economic stories dominate today's front pages as
Finance Minister Breton's budget for 2006 comes under review
at the National Assembly. Right-of-center Le Figaro headlines:
"A Budget Under Surveillance." Employment is one of the major
issues under scrutiny as new figures show that hiring is on
the rise. Popular right-of-center Le Parisien headlines:
"Jobs: Things Are Moving."

Today's major international story is Saddam Hussein's trial.
Left-of-center Le Monde carries a front-page op-ed by former
`60 minutes' producer Barry Lando titled "A Trial Under the
Influence" in which Lando explains why certain international
figures will not appear as co-defends: "The Americans and
their Iraqi allies have discreetly resolved the problem by
creating their own tribunal with its own rules, one of which
stipulates that only Iraqi citizens and residents can be
tried. World spectators of the trial will be looking at a re-
writing of history." In left-of-center Liberation editorialist
Gerard Dupuy "regrets the hasty" organization of a trial
"guided not by legal imperatives but political ones decided in
Washington." (See Part C) Catholic La Croix interviews Gareth
Evans of the International Crisis Group on the political
process in Iraq: "The Sunnis must not be locked in a part of
Iraq without natural resources, caught between the Kurds in
the North and the Shiites in the South. Iraq must have a
viable government, an army and an operational police force.
Unless this is implemented there is the risk of Iraq
disintegrating. But neighboring Arab countries must play an
active and constructive role rather than trying to take
advantage of the situation by supporting one Iraqi faction
rather than another."

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China's achievement in space is the basis for the editorial in
Le Figaro, titled "Chinese Revolution." "The West's embargo on
dual technologies. The threat of U.S. sanctions and Moscow's
desire to contain the ambitions of its neighbor have penalized
China's conquest of space. Yet the space program `made in
China' is moving ahead. China is a source of concern for its
neighbors, including Japan, not only because of its ambitions
in the space sector. but also because of its increasing
mastery of all technological sectors."

Mahmud Abbas's visit to Paris yesterday and his forthcoming
visit to Washington are noted in Le Figaro: "Abbas, unlike
Arafat, does not naturally lean towards France. In his view
only Washington's support carries weight to make things move
forward in creating a Palestinian state." Catholic La Croix
devotes its editorial to "The Palestinians' Search for
Support." (See Part C)

Financial La Tribune interviews France's Trade Minister
Christine Lagarde, in answer to the position adopted by EU
Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson on agricultural subsidies
and the request by 14 EU members that he `not cross the yellow
line': "Mandelson is operating outside the limits we consider
desirable. Before his last statement the least one can say is
he did not engage in too many consultations. The meeting today
will help to define the perimeter of his mandate. The offers
he made in answer to the American proposal suggest he went
outside that perimeter. The American offer is at this point an
opening. It is a step forward. But of course the Americans
reserved for themselves a margin for maneuver."

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

Iraq - Saddam Trial

"Hastiness"
Gerard Dupuy in left-of-center Liberation (10/18): "The
accused is too important, the accusations too serious and the
defense too weak. From the start the scales are tipping to one
side. This trial, which should have been an exemplary trial,
could well end up as a trial of the arbitrary dressed up in
legality. When NGO's complain about the conditions of the
trial, it is because they are afraid of the image it will be
giving of the law. The December elections and Sunday's
referendum prove that the Iraqis have opted for the democratic
process. Justice is not revenge. Anyone who opposes the death
penalty will find something to say against the penalty of
death in Saddam Hussein's case if it is the result of an
expeditious implementation of a shaky legislation. Because the
Iraqis suffered at the hands of Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi Court
needed to judge him. This will be done hastily, before even
Iraq's new institutions have had a chance to stabilize. And
the reasons for this have nothing to do with the law, but with
political imperatives dictated not by Iraqi requirements but
Washington's requirements."

"Washington: A Worried Spectator of the Trial"
Philippe Gelie in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/18): "The
trial opening tomorrow carries for Washington as much risk of
fueling tension as it does of creating an opportunity to turn
the page. How Saddam is preparing for his defense is putting
Washington in a cold sweat, all the while saying that the
trial is in the hands of the Iraqis. The U.S. finds itself the
spectator of a process it was only able to guide from behind
the scenes. While it waits for the outcome, Washington is
staying aloof to see whether the trial will give a new boost
to the rebellion or turns in favor of the accused. If the
debates are properly orchestrated, they can use the dictator's
crimes as a much needed `booster shot' for the December
legislative elections and the principles of democracy."

Middle East - Abbas to Paris- Washington

"The Palestinians in Search of Support"
Dominique Quinio in Catholic La Croix (10/18): "Cairo, Paris,
Madrid and Washington on October 20. The world tour Abbas is
making gives us a chance to once again look at a region of the
world we should never turn away from. The Israeli pull out
from Gaza, although spectacular, was not enough to put the
negotiations back on track and relax the tension. The
Palestinian President, like the Israeli Prime Minister, needs
to be supported and encouraged, particularly by the members of
the Quartet. He is in search of political support, diplomatic
recognition and economic commitments. The obstacles he is
facing are huge. He must fight on two fronts: abroad he must
be convincing about his determination in favor of peace and
his ability to disarm the terrorists; on the home front he
must fight the extremist movements which, through violence,
want to undermine the chances of a dialogue. After this world
tour, there may be chance for Abbas and Sharon to finally
meet. This will be one more step, a symbolically important
one." STAPLETON

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