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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Syria Eu Trade Issues -

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 007188

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 - Syria EU Trade Issues -
Agricultural Tariffs
PARIS - Thursday, October 20, 2005


(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

1.Syria
2.EU Trade Issues - Agricultural Tariffs

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

Avian flu, the adjournment of Saddam's trial and domestic
political stories dominate today's front pages, except for
right-of-center Le Figaro which leads with the latest conflict
between Paris and Brussels over agricultural subsidies,
tariffs and the definition of the EU Trade Commissioner's
mandate: "Agriculture: Serious Crisis Between Paris and
Brussels" is Le Figaro's headline. The Figaro editorial titled
"Divorce Between Paris and Brussels" and most reports
emphasize France's isolation in this latest fight. (See Part
C) Right-of-center Les Echos carries an op-ed by Interior
Minister Nicolas Sarkozy titled: "No! to a Dupes' Bargain." "I
say it clearly: the American demands and the offers made by
the EU Trade Commissioner are unacceptable. They mark the end
of the EU joint agricultural policy. I can somewhat understand
the U.S. position which is to maximize their gains while
weakening our agriculture. But in so doing they are offering
us a dupes' bargain. What I understand less is the position of
the European negotiator who does not hesitate to put Europe's
interests in danger. Mandelson is going beyond his mandate."

The postponement of Saddam's trial is front-paged in several
outlets, including left-of-center Le Monde which devotes an
analysis to the fact the international legal system is trying
to define the best way to try dictators and comments: "The
Milosevic trial served as the measuring stick for trying
political leaders for crimes against humanity. Saddam's trial,
according to Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch, does not
respond to the demands of the international legal system.'"

Popular Le Parisien interviews former socialist Foreign
Affairs Minister Roland Dumas under Francois Miterrand, who is
also one of Saddam's defense lawyers: "This trial leaves much
to be desired with regard to the rules of an international
trial. including the way it was put together by the Americans.
I and his other defense lawyers received all the documents a
day ago. When I became Foreign Minister, Saddam owed France 50
million francs for military weapons. France sold Iraq tanks
and trained pilots. The Americans did the same. This part of
the trial is sure never to come out."

The pressure Syria is feeling from both the U.S. and France is
reported in Le Figaro (See Part C) which also interviews
Syria's Interior Minister Walid Mouallem: "The Americans and
the French have a plan to increase pressure on Syria. The
report on Hariri's assassination is part of that plan. The
first step was to cut us from our relations with Iraq,
Palestine and Libya. We are now in the second phase, which is
to isolate Syria. The next phase involves economic sanctions
through a UN resolution. But Russia and China will oppose the
idea of sanctions. We want to negotiate with the Americans,
but they have closed the door. They need a scapegoat in order
to deflect attention from the chaos in Iraq. We are ready to
cooperate on Iraq, through dialogue, not force. I hope the
U.S. will not decide to attack Syrian targets. Because then we
will open the borders to Iraq."

Left-of-center Le Monde interviews Lebanon's Prime Minister
who is on an official visit to Paris: "I want to say clearly
that the question of Hezbollah's armament must be the subject
of an intra-Lebanese dialogue. Contrary to what some believe,
Hezbollah is not simply a group of combatants. It represents
an important section of Lebanese society; it has elected
representatives in the government."

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

Syria
"Washington Urges Damascus to Adopt Different Stance"
Philippe Gelie in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/20): "After
her European tour, Secretary Rice had an impromptu breakfast
with Kofi Annan. At the center of that meeting, a coordinated
approach of the international community or a lone stance by
the U.S. to force Damascus to change its attitude. Until now
the joint approach adopted by Washington and Paris has been a
guarantee of success. But before taking action on Syria,
diplomats will have to agree on a joint objective. While for
France, Lebanon is the central key point, for the Americans it
is the complacency of Damascus towards terrorists infiltrating
Iraq, which has them angry. In the Bush administration the
debate has a flavor of dj vu - what is in the best interest
of the U.S.? A change of attitude in Damascus or a change of
regime? For the time being Secretary Rice is in the lead with
the first option. The proposals to Syria are similar to the
option made previously to Libya: stop interfering in Lebanon,
destabilizing Iraq and sponsoring terrorists and Syria's
dictator can stay."

EU Trade Issues - Agricultural Tariffs

"A Divorce Between Paris and Brussels"
Nicolas Barre in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/20): "The
French stance in Brussels is akin to keeping the European
Trade Commissioner from exercising his power. France is more
and more isolated on this issue, especially after Great
Britain confirmed Mandelson's mandate. France's offensive in
n
Brussels has ended in a disappointing outcome. Agriculture has
for years been excluded from trade talks on liberalization.
Farmers from countries as different as France and the U.S. are
trying to keep it that way. The system of protection for
agricultural products is slowly changing and the EU is better
prepared than the U.S. In spite of French concerns,
understandable to a point, an agreement at the WTO carries
some benefits for European farmers to the extent that it would
force our partners, namely the U.S., to re-examine their own
policy of subsidies. The stakes here go well beyond
agricultural issues. The EU Trade Commissioner made an offer
on tariffs in answer to a U.S. proposal on agriculture. But
its scope is much wider and touches on trade and services: a
sector that weighs much more than agriculture in our developed
economies. It may be that what has France concerned is that
sector's liberalization, not agriculture." STAPLETON

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