Cablegate: Saud Al-Faisal Asks the Us to Call for a Ceasefire
O 302146Z JUL 06
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SUBJECT: SAUD AL-FAISAL ASKS THE US TO CALL FOR A CEASEFIRE
Classified By: Ambassador James Oberwetter for reasons 1. 5 (b) and (d).
1. (C) FM Saud al-Faisal summoned the Ambassador from
Riyadh to Jeddah for a one-on-one late in the evening of July
30 to urge the Secretary to call for a ceasefire in Lebanon.
In a soft-mannered but insistent and blunt approach, Prince
Saud made the following points:
-- "We understand the concern with calling for a ceasefire
and it doesn't hold. But I wish you would call for a
ceasefire and (let) Hizbollah reject it. Then Hizbollah
would be seen as the renegades they are. Instead you are
turning Hizbollah into heroes. Hizbollah is telling the
Lebanese to hold out for two more weeks and they will get
-- "What is occurring is strengthening Hizbollah, not
weakening it. These are the damage assessments we are
getting from a wide variety of intelligence and other
-- "Today's massacre occurred in a village called Qana - a
village of the same name in the Galilee was where Christ made
the blind see. Now everyone, and not just in the Arab and
Islamic countries, is seeing the results of Israel's
-- "We don't see any advantage to US interests in the
current policy. It is not certainly not helping our common
objective of facing the Iranian threat in Iraq. We fear you
are relying on self-interested advisors, rather than your
loyal friends who have no stake in this fight, other than our
concern for the small country of Lebanon."
-- "The other Arab countries are coming to us to see if we
understand US policy. King Abdullah of Jordan is still here.
None of us discern the purpose of the current US stance.
We cannot explain to our public what we don't understand."
-- "I talked with the President twice recently and in the
King's name asked for renewed activitism on the Palestinian
issue, which is the core of the region's problems."
2. (C) The Ambassador replied that the US was also shocked
by today's bombing in Qana. He stressed that the Secretary
had returned to the region and was in Israel today, and that
the US was seeking a lasting ceasefire supported by an
Israeli-Lebanese Government agreement. The Ambassador said
he would transmit the Foreign Minister's views immediately,
and he asked if there were any specific steps that the FM
would recommend. Prince Saud replied that putting the
Shaaba Farms under UN control would lead to disarming
Hizbollah, since this was the last part of occupied Lebanese
3. (C) The Ambassador noted that the Saudi humanitarian
convoy had safely reached Beirut. The FM said the 23 truck
convoy carried a hospital. The Ambassador said whether or not
there had been a direct Iranian hand in Hizbollah's
kidnapping of Israelis which instigated this crisis, the
Iranians were attempting to exploit it to divert attention
away from their nuclear issue. But this "sleight of hand"
wouldn't work. The US would continue to press the Iranians
on their nuclear acquisition program. Prince Saud said that
was encouraging to hear. In Larijani's meeting with Solana,
he added, Larijani was confident that only the Lebanon and
Palestinian issues were the only agenda items. He also said
Iran was sending an emissary to Saudi Arabia on August 1.
4. (C) Turning to the Iraq issues, the Ambassador said we
should not let the immediate crisis in Lebanon deter us from
supporting the new Iraqi government, which needed strong
regional support. The Ambassador asked for Saudi support in
particular for the Iraq Compact, noting the joint UN and Iraq
announcement and the US and UK statements. Prince Saud said
"we will do everything we can." During PM Maliki's visit to
Jeddah, Maliki had said he would send someone to follow up on
finance issues, but that visit hasn't occurred, nor had he
been in telephone contact with his Iraqi counterpart.
5. (C) Ambassador's Comment: The FM displayed genuine
dismay with the lack of movement toward a ceasefire. His
expression suggested a lack of comprehension as to why the US
is pursuing a policy which he believes is now giving
Hizbollah growing credibility with the Arab public.