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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Middle East - Iran -G8 Summit

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Lucia A Keegan 07/18/2006 03:12:52 PM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

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SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - Middle East - Iran -G8 Summit
Wrap-Up


PARIS - Tuesday, July 18, 2006

(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

Middle East
Iran
G8 Wrap-Up

(B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

The international community's mobilization to find a solution to the
Israeli-Lebanese conflict and French Prime Minister Dominique de
Villepin's trip to Lebanon as a show of France's support are the
leading international stories today. Under the headline "The Big
Powers Look for a Way Out of the Crisis," right-of-center Le Figaro
notes that "French Diplomacy is Taking a Leading Role." French
Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy granted interviews to popular
right-of-center Le Parisien, state-run France 2 television and
state-run France Inter radio, in which he insisted that: "creating
the conditions that allow for a durable ceasefire" should be the
immediate objective of the international community. Dailies also
report the evacuation of hundreds of French citizens from Beirut
qualified as a "mess" on state-run France 3's newscast yesterday
evening.

Left-of-center Liberation's headline is "Villepin: Operation
Beirut." The accompanying article asserts that by placing himself on
the forefront of the international scene, Villepin is trying to put
the Clearstream scandal and the CPE riots behind him. "Villepin
quickly grasped the role that French diplomacy, and above all he,
could play in the current crisis in the Middle East. At the lowest
depths in terms of approval ratings, Villepin could not have dreamed
of a better opportunity to display his supposed talents as a
statesman." The less cynical editorial in left-of-center Liberation
notes that Villepin's trip to Beirut underscores the "singular
historical, political and cultural relationship that France has with
Lebanon." State-run France Inter radio criticized Villepin's visit
as being perfectly timed for the news cycle; he arrived in late
afternoon which assured coverage on the 8 p.m. newscasts, had quick
meetings including with some departing French ex-pats.

An editorial in the regional daily La Nouvel Republique du Centre
Ouest says that "we will know soon enough if the discussions that
the Prime Minister had with Lebanese leaders, including from
Hezbollah, will help resolve the current crisis. For Villepin it
would mark the heaven-sent revitalization of his reputation. No
doubt he still dreams of the speech delivered in New York against
the war in Iraq."

An op-ed in economic right-of-center Les Echos underscores that the
use of radio-guided missiles by Lebanon's Hezbollah "radically
changes the strategic and diplomatic order of things in the conflict
with Israel... In previous confrontations, Israel was never
threatened from the sky... But today the Shiite extremists are
well-equipped thanks to Syria and Iran." Alain Frachon in
left-of-center Le Monde analyzes the "Shadow of Iran in the Middle
East." (See Part C)

The G8 Summit is the second leading story in today's national and
regional press. A number of commentaries offer post-G8 analyses on
what was accomplished in Saint Petersburg. The unsigned editorial in
left-of-center Le Monde gives an history of how Russia became part
of the G8 and wonders about an organization that will include Russia
but not emerging democracies like Brazil and India. Right-of-center
Le Figaro says that in spite of the situation in Lebanon "Putin is
defending the outcome of 'his' G8... and has earned his place in the
club of superpowers." (See Part C)

Catholic La Croix and economic dailies discuss attempts at the G8 to
relaunch the Doha Round. La Croix reports that the WTO's Director
General Pascal Lamy made an appearance at the G8 "in the shadows."
Lamy hoped to gain concessions from leaders on the Doha round,
stalled since July 1. Observers described the discussions about
trade liberalization as "very tense." Jacques Chirac stated France's
opposition to European concessions in the absence of reciprocity by
the U.S. and developing countries. Chirac was further perturbed, La
Croix says, by the lack of representation of developing African
countries in the debate. Left-of-center Le Monde reports that "the
U.S. continues to block the entry of Russia to the WTO."

Brief but widespread mention of President Bush's aside to PM Blair
on televised and radio news as well as in the print press. Popular
tabloid-like daily France Soir says that the President's candor
shows that he is still "as subtle as ever." Regional daily Le
Dauphine Libr's editorial is harsh: "That the most powerful man on
Earth could swear like a sailor, everyone has known at least since
Nixon. And some may say that it's better than the usual political
cant. But it is hard sometimes not to be frightened by the
small-mindedness of some of the most powerful people when they think
that no one is listening.

Widely mentioned in print and electronic news, the successful
landing of the space shuttle Discovery prompts right-of-center Le
Figaro on its front page to say that this second successful shuttle
flight "three years after the Columbia tragedy represents a huge
relief for NASA."

In economic news, print and broadcast media all announce that
"Airbus is back in the race" against Boeing with the new version of
the A350. Right-of-center Le Figaro Economie notes that "Airbus is
hitting two birds with one stone... the new version of the A350 will
rival both the Boeing 787 and the 777."

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

Middle East

"First Steps"
Francois Ernewein editorializes in Catholic La Croix (07/18): "We
may lament the slow awakening of the international community or make
fun of the wishy-washy agreement invented by the G8 that does not
even call for a cease-fire... But at least the ball has started
rolling."

"France's Margin of Maneuver"
In regional Le Telegramme, the editorial by Hubert Coudurier
(07/18): "France's margin of maneuver in the Middle East crisis is
slim given that the U.S. and its ally Israel have decided to
confront the Islamist Shiites that have caused the eruption of
violence in the region."

"What Can France Do?"
In regional Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace Jean-Claude Keiffer writes
(07/18): "What can France do in the Middle East? On the face of it,
it is difficult for Paris to intercede in the conflict. With
Damascus, colluding with Hezbollah, the bridges have all been
burned. With Teheran, sponsor of the Islamist Shiites, the
relationship is tense since the nuclear crisis. And with Israel, in
spite of courteous statements on both sides, France drags a pro-Arab
reputation behind it."

Iran

"Shadow of Iran in the Middle East"
Alain Frachon in left-of-center Le Monde (07/18): "Officially, Iran
manifests its support for the Palestinian Hamas and has close links
with Hezbollah. But even if Teheran says that it has nothing to do
with the July 12 kidnappings of two Israeli soldiers, it is
difficult to imagine that the Islamic Republic did not at least give
its tacit approval to its Lebanese Hezbollah protgs. What is in it
for Iran? July 12 was the day when faced with Iran's ill will, the
negotiators on the issue of Iran's nuclear program decided to put
the question before the UNSC. Coincidence? Maybe... But what if Iran
was trying to prove the scope of its capacity to do harm by giving
Hezbollah free rein? Or give the U.S. a sampler of what it can
expect if its nuclear installations were to be attacked? America's
indulgence with regard to Israel's intervention in Lebanon is seen
by some as a warning from Washington to Teheran. The various
protagonists of the crisis do not always measure the consequences of
their actions and the kidnappings may lead all parties to a
situation far beyond what was initially intended."
G8 Wrap-Up

"A G8 Without Scope"
The unsigned editorial in left-of-center Le Monde (07/18): "The
meeting of the G8 turned into a crisis cell to discuss the Middle
East... Some had hoped that the meetings would lead to a plan of
action but it is wrong to want to make the G8 into something that it
is not: a global manager of day-to-day affairs. This G8 was not
useless even if its staging was excessive... And Mr. Putin not only
drowned out all considerations of his failings in terms of democracy
and was able to reap a maximum of benefit from this Summit by
turning it into a personal public relations campaign." STAPLETON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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