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Cablegate: Assistant Secretary Fried's Meeting with Jacques

VZCZCXRO5939
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHFR #7795/01 3481337
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141337Z DEC 06 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3792
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0462
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0578
RUEHC/DEPARTMENT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 007795

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DEPT ALSO FOR EUR/WE, DRL/IL, INR/EUC, EUR/ERA, EUR/PPD,
AND EB
DEPT OF COMMERCE FOR ITA
DEPT OF LABOR FOR ILAB

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2015
TAGS: PGOV ELAB EUN PINR SOCI ECON PREL FR
SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SECRETARY FRIED'S MEETING WITH JACQUES
ATTALI

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Classified By: Ambassador Craig Stapleton for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) Assistant Secretary Fried met with recognized
intellectual and long-time Segolene Royal confidant Jacques
Attali on December 6. Attali underlined that Royal, even
though she is a leading contender for France's presidency in
next spring's elections, has had very little experience
making and implementing foreign policy. Attali said that
Royal's "worldview is still unformed," and that she is riding
a steep learning curve during her current round of trips
abroad. Attali repeatedly used the word "amazing" to
describe what he characterized as Royal's uncanny talent for
successfully braving her way through the minefields of
international issues -- he cited her trip this week to
Lebanon, Israel and Palestinian Authority territory -- and,
despite near-fatal missteps, and notwithstanding her
inexperience, emerging unscathed. Attali pointed to Royal's
visit to Israel earlier this week as an example of how deft,
attentive handling of her initial, defensive hostility can be
turned to sympathetic good-will. Attali recommended that the
U.S. take a cue from the Israelis' success and give Royal
"red-carpet respect" during her upcoming trip to the U.S. --
and replace her unformed, distrustful pre-disposition
(typical of the French left) with an attitude more inclined
to listen to and understand U.S. views and policies.

2. (C) Summary, continued: A/S Fried and Attali agreed that
"Europe is at a very challenging moment" -- and Attali went
so far as to say that "expansion has cost Europe its
identity." A/S Fried and Attali agreed that Turkey's
decreasing interest in joining Europe, along with Europe's
"slamming the door" on Turkey were leading "to a strategic
disaster" that could separate Turkey from the community of
Western democracies. A/S Fried and Attali also agreed that
the growing authoritarianism of Putin's rule in Russia was a
grave setback for the spread of liberal democracy. End
Summary.

ATTALI'S SUGGESTION FOR GOAL OF ROYAL VISIT TO U.S.
--------------------------------------------- ------

3. (C) In his meeting at the Embassy with A/S Fried on
December 6, Jacques Attali characterized Socialist Party
presidential front-runner Segolene Royal's world-view as
"still unformed." Attali recalled that he had "known Royal
for nearly 30 years now" and had been instrumental in
recruiting her for Mitterrand's staff in 1981, just after
Mitterrand's election to his first term. Attali also said
that "about seven years ago I got the idea that Royal could
become president of France -- I wrote to her about it, and
she didn't believe me. But later, little by little, she
began to see the possibility herself." (Note: Though Attali
has no official position in Royal's campaign organization nor
in the Socialist Party (PS), we believe he remains one of her
more influential advisors. End Note) Attali made no effort
to hide his concern that Royal's lack of experience in
foreign affairs could lead to a damaging performance on her
part -- for example, during a hastily planned visit to the
U.S. when crossed expectations might well "set her off on the
wrong foot" in connection with her still uninformed views of
the U.S. But he argued that a deftly handled Royal visit to
the U.S. could be a key "formative experience" for her,
central to her development into a leader -- should she become
president of France -- able to both understand and trust the
U.S.

4. (C) Attali underlined that Royal, in her personality and
her politics, is instinctively combative, and has long, and
successfully, defined herself by championing the underdog and
defying the powers-that-be. Attali observed that many people
in France, particularly those reared politically on the
French left, congenitally mistrust American capitalism and
American power, and Royal is not any different. A/S Fried
and Attali agreed that Royal's experience in the U.S., should
she visit in the near future, should have the effect of
defusing this defensiveness, and lay the groundwork for a
more instinctively sympathetic view of the U.S. Attali held
out Royal's recent visit to Israel as an example of how to

PARIS 00007795 002.2 OF 003


shape successfully her perceptions to long-term advantage.
According to Attali, Royal arrived in Israel disposed to be
"pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli," but deft "red-carpet
respectful" handling by the Israelis -- including a private
dinner hosted by Foreign Minister Tipi Livni -- clearly
prompted Royal to question her pre-conceptions. Attali
suggested that the U.S should use a similar tactic,
especially given Royal's reflexive reservations about the
role of American power in general, and the Bush
administrations' policies in particular.

"SHE HAS LITTLE EXPERIENCE -- BUT SHE'S LEARNING FAST"
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5. (C) Attali underlined that Royal is the most formidable
political figure in France today -- "if the election were
held today, she would win, hands-down." (Note: this is a view
supported by current polls. End Note.) Attali repeatedly
used the word "amazing" to describe how the force of Royal's
conviction carries her through -- as often as not with flying
colors -- despite her inexperience, particularly in
connection with foreign relations issues. As an example of
this talent for unflinchingly braving her way through
anything, Attali pointed to Royal's recent trip to Lebanon,
and how she emerged unscathed notwithstanding some close
calls with statements that required considerable
clarification after the fact. It remained to be seen if this
teflon quality would carry through the election and beyond,
but, as Attali also stressed, Royal has persistently proved
wrong all who have underestimated her. "She's leaning all
the time, and learning fast," Attali concluded. Attali
pressed on A/S Fried his view that the U.S. would do well
pro-actively to take advantage of Royal's current, relative
"malleability" with regard to her views about the U.S.

EUROPE
------

6. (C) Attali called EU enlargement "a disaster." He said
the extension of Europe to 25/27 member states "had cost
Europe its identity," in addition to making the union
"unmanageable" and therefore incapable of making any
meaningful plans for the future. As evidence for this view,
Attali pointed to the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of the
Rome treaty next year, and "the way there's nothing on the
agenda because we can't do anything." Mentioning the German
presidency of the EU (January - June 2007) Attali
rhetorically asked, "Do you know when Germany will hold the
Presidency again?" He then mentioned the next French
presidency (January - June 2008), and asked the same
question. The respective answers, 2021 and 2022, in Attali's
view, speak volumes about why the EU system of governance
promises to produce paralysis, not leadership.

TURKEY
------

7. (C) A/S Fried called Turkey's potential separation from
the community of Western democracies a "strategic disaster
for all of us." A/S Fried and Attali discussed how growing
indifference in Turkey towards joining Europe and rejection
of Turkey's inclusion in Europe among Europeans were
reinforcing each other, pushing Turkey in the wrong
direction. Commenting on burgeoning anti-Turkey sentiment in
European publics, Attali lamented the "shortsightedness of
Europeans," saying that "short-term political use" of the
issue could easily scuttle any chance of binding Turkey,
inseparably, to Europe and democracy. Referring to the role
the issue of Turkey's membership in the EU is likely to play
in France's upcoming presidential campaign, Attali identified
France as "being in the lead" with regard to this
shortsightedness.

RUSSIA
------

8. (C) While pointing out that "we'll work with the Russians
where we can," A/S Fried commented that Putin's growing
authoritarianism was a grave setback to the spread of liberal
democracy. He pointed to Vice President Cheney's speech in
Vilnius last May as a noteworthy example of the U.S. speaking

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out against Russia's current trending toward de facto
dictatorship. Attali lamented "the cowardice of the
Europeans," excoriating them for not standing up to Putin's
power grab lest the Russians use the "oil and gas weapon."
Attali compared the rise of revanchist sentiment in Russia
(over the "unfair" loss of the Cold War) to analogous feeling
in Weimar Germany over defeat in WWI, adding, "but the
Russians have oil -- and Hitler didn't." A/S Fried suggested
a better parallel might be the USSR after America's defeat in
Vietnam, suggesting that U.S. difficulties in Iraq and with
Iran were emboldening the Russians.

9. (U) A/S Fried has cleared this message.


Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm
STAPLETON

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