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Cablegate: Iranian Charm Offensive Fall Flat in Finland

VZCZCXRO4335
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHHE #0545 1980529
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 170529Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3576
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 4725
RUEHRK/AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK 0326

C O N F I D E N T I A L HELSINKI 000545

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07-16-2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV FI
SUBJECT: IRANIAN CHARM OFFENSIVE FALL FLAT IN FINLAND


Classified By: PolChief Greg Thome, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) The Finnish Foreign Ministry effectively turned
off Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki's
proposed June visit Helsinki, which apparently was
intended as part of an Iranian public relations trip
through the Nordics. According to MFA officials and
other diplomatic contacts, Mottaki hoped for a big
welcome in Helsinki, requesting meetings with Prime
Minister Vanhanen, Foreign Minister Kanerva, and array of
business leaders, as well as a joint Iranian-Finnish
press conference and additional public speaking
opportunities.

Thanks, but No Thanks
---------------------
2. (C) Initially, FM Kanerva reluctantly agreed to a
short, private meeting with Mottaki, but drew the line on
setting up any other events. Kanerva also expressly
ruled out both a PM meeting and any sort of joint press
conference. The Iranians were clearly hoping to turn the
event into a charm offensive, but Kanerva had no interest
in furthering that agenda, one Finnish diplomat told us.
The Israeli Ambassador to Helsinki, who is highly
regarded and has gotten off to a good start with the new
government, also got wind of the potential visit and
lobbied hard against it. When the MFA told the Iranians
that a visit, if it were to occur, would be a decidedly
low-key affair with no press and no PM -- Mottaki
apparently withdrew the request altogether.

Comment
-------
3. (C) Our local contacts are not quite sure what to make
of the aborted Iranian visit. Last year, Iran's Deputy
FM traveled through the region (meeting here with then-FM
Erkki Tuomioja), and some believe that Mottaki's proposed
trip was year part of an effort to capitalize on last
year's trip and raise the bar a notch. Others believe it
could be part of a charm offensive aimed at trying to
defuse European support for any further international
sanctions discussions. Either way, the Finns' "no thank
you" is a welcome result. End Comment.
WARE

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