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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report -

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Lucia A Keegan 07/31/2006 10:29:16 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

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UNCLAS PARIS 05080

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CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: PRS: LPLATT
DRAFTED: PR: SDOSSANTOS
CLEARED: NONE

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 005080

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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.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR

SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT -
Lebanese Conflict - Rome Conference
PARIS - Thursday, July 27, 2006

(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

Lebanese Conflict - Rome Conference

(B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

The press today widely criticizes the, particularly in regional
editorials, as proof of the powerlessness of the international
community. The editorial in Catholic La Croix notes that "the
situation calls for urgent action and yet the world seems to be in a
race to see who will be the slowest to act." Communist L'Humanite's
headline announces that for "Washington it is urgent to wait!" And
left-of-center Liberation leads: "A green light for war."

For regional editorialists Bernard Revel in l'Independent du Midi
and Herve Chabaud in l'Union et l'Ardennais, the Rome Conference has
in essence "condoned Israel's strategy: that the destruction of
Hezbollah justifies the disproportionate means used," and was a
forum for "useless chatter."

Left-of-center Le Monde reports that: "The feeling among French
diplomats on the eve of the Rome Conference was that the latter
would be entirely 'formatted' by the U.S. and that in this context
it would only serve as a forum for 'readjusting' discussions... By
distancing itself from the American position, concerning the
deployment of a peacekeeping force and the necessity for an
immediate truce, French diplomacy is pushing for a realignment of
the positions."

On privately-run Europe 1 radio, Socialist Party leader Francois
Hollande said, concerning the Rome conference: "It was a perfect
example of American laisser-faire."

In an interview in left-of-center Liberation Simon Peres noted that:
"it was a mistake not to invite Israel [to the talks in Rome]. I
don't understand why, it must be because of pressure from Arab
countries." As for Hezbollah, Peres says "It's us or them..."

Left-of-center Le Monde's headline is devoted to a major interview
of French President Chirac on the situation in Lebanon in which he
stresses that the solution to the crisis "cannot be a military one."
President Chirac emphasizes that "an international peacekeeping
force implies certain necessary preliminary conditions. The first is
the acceptance of a cease fire on the part of all of the
protagonists. The second is the acceptance of the very idea of an
international peacekeeping force by the various parties under the
UN's Chapter VII... For France NATO's role is not to set up this
kind of peacekeeping mission. For technical, but also for political
reasons NATO is not appropriate for this kind of intervention. In
this region of the world NATO is seen, whether we want to
acknowledge it or not, as the strong arm of the West... I am led to
understand that the U.S., lacking a more effective, speedy or better
solution, would see only the advantages of a NATO intervention by
the Rapid Reaction Force... But again, for the reasons already
mentioned, NATO is not the right way... The U.S. and France may not
have the motives for our commitment [in the region] but we have
worked together well [Resolution 1559.] to promote stability."

Following the death of four UN observers in an Israeli air strike,
right-of-center Le Figaro mentions the "impossible mission of the
UNIFIL observers" who, implanted in southern Lebanon, are subjected
to Israeli - Hezbollah crossfire. "The Israeli strategy of quasi
continual and often random air strikes in southern Lebanon has
proved once again its tragic limitations."

Right-of-center Le Figaro reports that Iran and Syria are "allies in
spite of themselves within the Axis of Evil." "The current crisis in
the Middle East has forced Teheran and Damascus to radicalize their
position and establish a strategic rapprochement... But at first
glance Teheran and Damascus do not have much in common. Iran, an
Islamic Republic, is in majority Shiite... Syria is largely Sunni
and led by a Baathist, secular regime.... Currently, Washington is
increasing efforts to isolate Syria from its Iranian ally."

Left-of-center Le Monde's New York correspondent Eric Leser
describes the uproar among neoconservatives concerning the Bush
Administration's diplomatic efforts in the Middle East seen as
"weak" and "confused." "The Neoconservatives, who made themselves
very discrete while the situation in Iraq got worse day by day, have
come back to the forefront over the last few weeks... For them, the
Bush Administration's hesitations are the cause for the renewed
confidence of Syria and Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah."

Catholic La Croix reports that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is
seeking "an anti-American ally in Russia." His visit to Moscow is
part of a wider tour to countries on Washington's "black list."
Although Vladimir Putin refrains from joining Chavez's "inflammatory
diatribes," arms deals between Russia and Venezuela do not go
unnoticed by the U.S., La Croix says.

On the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to Washington,
left-of-center Le Monde reports President Bush's plan to redeploy
troops to Baghdad to deal with the instability. According to Le
Monde, President Bush stressed that these would not be new soldiers
deployed, but soldiers already posted in various provinces
throughout Iraq. "This redeployment would go along with a
reinforcement of the equipment of the Iraqi forces and a realignment
of the strategy... The differences between Al Maliki and Bush were
made clear on the issue of Hezbollah and Lebanon... The American
president, for his part, insisted that there is nothing
contradictory about sending humanitarian aid to Lebanon while at the
same time increasing the American supply of weapons to Israel ...
But the differences between the U.S. and Iraq were minimized by the
Americans and Stephen Hadley denied any divergence of position
concerning Hezbollah."

In left-of-center Le Monde's interview of President Chirac he was
asked if the conflict in Iraq can be called a civil war and
responded: "If it is not a civil war, it certainly looks a lot like
it... But considering that France was not involved in this
intervention, it would not be appropriate to give any lessons."

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

Lebanese Conflict - Rome Conference

"Washington Refuses a Cease Fire"
Right-of-center Le Figaro's Francois Hauter writes (07/27): "The
French Foreign Minister Douste Blazy battled it out with Secretary
of State Rice and today it appears likely that a resolution will be
adopted by the UNSC on August 1 or 2 calling for a generalized
truce. But in the meantime, Israel has its hands free... The
discussions in Rome clearly showed that there are two camps: on one
side the EU, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt as well
as Kofi Annan; and on the other the U.S. and Great Britain that
unconditionally support Israel... The talks in Rome between
Europeans and Americans lasted much longer than expected and Douste
Blazy admitted yesterday that with Secretary Rice he had to come
back into the fray five times."

"Race to be the Slowest"
Francois Ernewein in Catholic La Croix's editorial (07/27): "The G8
Summit in Saint Petersburg and the Conference in Rome proved the
powerlessness of the international community... The word that was
the most used in Rome yesterday was 'urgency.' But this rhetorical
display did not prevent divergences from setting in among the
representatives of the fifteen countries... To the extent that this
meeting, held without the Israelis, was just a lot of hot air."

"Failure"
In left-of-center Liberation, Antoine de Gaudemar writes (07/27):
"The Rome Conference was much ado about nothing... Indeed the sheer
quantity of issues that need resolving could not be dealt with in
one meeting. And now Israel has its hands free to continue its
operations in Lebanon, where Hezbollah resistance is a lot more
tenacious than expected. Tsahal was counting on the tacit support of
the Americans who in spite of Condoleezza Rice's spectacular tour of
the region, are not rushing to find a diplomatic solution to the
conflict..."
"Two Visions of the World"
Regional daily Ouest France's Didier Eugene writes (07/27): "The
U.S. is asking for a 'durable solution' and France for a 'political
solution,' behind the words there is a conflicting vision of the
world."

"France's Voice"
In regional La Nouvelle Republique du Centre, the editorial by Herve
Cannet (017/27): "French soldiers on the border between Lebanon and
Israel vainly trying to keep the peace? Jacques Chirac's dream is a
courageous one, but if it means seeing coffins return to France
covered with the French flag, no thanks! Been there, done that...
But since the U.S. has not yet come around to putting the pressure
necessary to stop the massacre and the systematic tearing apart of
Lebanon, the only voice that can be heard today is that of France."


"Failure"
Jean Levallois in regional La Presse de la Manche (07/27):
"Yesterday's conference in Rome will be remembered as a failure.
Because it is indeed Lebanon that is being destroyed, not
Hezbollah... and the American administration is encouraging this
since it has no intention of trying to put the brakes on the Israeli
offensive... The possibility of sending peacekeeping troops was
discussed in Rome... A mission in which Europe will provide the
soldiers while the U.S. sells the weapons [to Israel].

"A voice in the Wilderness"
Dominique Garraud in regional La Charente Libre (07/27): "Similar to
discussion during the time of the military intervention in Iraq, the
discussions concerning Lebanon has pitted those who want the crisis
to be settled using forceps, in the name of the global war on
terrorism, and those who have a better understanding of the local
and regional complexities in the Middle East... and know that the
price to pay for peace may be concessions made to certain movements
and negotiations with the sort of countries that should not have to
be associated with... But the UN and France may once again find
themselves voices in the wilderness with regard to the Bush
Administration which has apparently not yet drawn the necessary
lessons from the fiasco in Iraq." STAPLETON

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