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Cablegate: Syria/Iran, Syria/France, Syria/Plo, Lebanon, Asad's

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0735/01 2001051
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191051Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3892
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6968
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4659
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3312
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7792
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1887
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5212
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1423
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7532

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000735

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ARN, INR/IC/CD, INR/R/MR:STHIBEAULT AND
JMCCARTER, VOA NEWS CA, NEA/PPD:CBOURGEOIS, AZAIBACK, AND
AFERNANDEZ, IIP/G/NEA-SA MDAVIDSON
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Syria/Iran, Syria/France, Syria/PLO, Lebanon, Asad's
Speech, Bush/Mideast Peace, Iraq (7/19)

1. Summary: Syrian papers on July 19 reported that Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will pay a one-day visit to Syria
today to meet with President Asad and other senior Syrian
officials.

Papers also reported VP Shar'a's meeting with Jean-Claude Cousseran,
envoy of French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, on July 18.
Talks focused on the results of the recent meeting of Lebanese
parties in Saint Cloud in France. In this respect, Al-Shar'a
stressed Syria's support for every effort leading to an end to the
tense situation in Lebanon through a formula acceptable to all
Lebanese parties. Shara and Cousseran reiterated the importance of
developing and strengthening Syrian-French relations under the new
administration of French President Nicholas Sarkozy. Earlier, FM
Mouallem met with Cousseran, who reviewed France's efforts to bring
the Lebanese parties closer and the results of the conference in
Saint Cloud. FM Mouallem confirmed Syria's full support for
whatever the Lebanese agree on and its readiness to make every
possible effort to help reach agreement among the Lebanese parties
to resolve their differences on the basis of respect for the
Lebanese constitution and the coexistence formula and in a way that
ensures security and stability in Lebanon.

Papers also reported the visit to Damascus on July 18 of Farouk
al-Qaddumi, Director of the Political Bureau at the Palestinian
Liberation Organization, and his meetings with VP Shara and FM
Mouallem, who expressed Syria's concern over recent events in
Palestine and their repercussions on the future of the Palestinian
cause, affirming that the current division only serves the enemies
of the Palestinian people and calling on all Palestinian parties to
resort to dialogue to end the current crisis. Al-Qaddumi emphasized
Syria's important role in attempting to resolve the differences
between Palestinian parties and in encouraging them to use dialogue
to overcome their differences.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is to visit Damascus today"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 7/19)

"VP Shara and FM Mouallem confer with Cousseran. Khouchner: Syria
contributed to the success of the Saint Cloud meeting" (Independent
al-Watan, 8/19)

"Syria to the French envoy: We support every possible effort to end
the Lebanese crisis. Syria reiterates the importance of boosting
Syrian-French relations during the term of President Nicolas
Sarkozy" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 7/19)

"Vice-President Shara discusses developments in the Palestinian
arena with al-Qaddoumi, head of the Political Department of the
Palestinian Liberation Organization" (Government-owned Al-Thawra,
7/19)

"The Lebanese army isolates militiamen in Naher al-Bared. Fateh
Al-Islam fighters intensify missile firing against northern Lebanon.
Nationalist factions: A national unity government is a prelude for
resumption of national dialogue" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 7/19)

"Lebanese opposition: We will not allow the governing team to seize
the presidency" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/19)

"Abbas hints at early elections. UNRWA: The Quartet must exert
pressure to open Gaza crossings" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 7/19)

"News circulated of an Israeli intention to turn over authority in
two cities in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. Abbas
prepared for early elections. Hamas rejects" (Independent a-Watan,
7/19)

"Analysts: Bush's call for an international conference on the
Middle East is an attempt to flee his failure in Iraq"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 7/19)

"The White House: Bush has called for a meeting, not a conference,
on the Middle East" (Government-owned Tishreen, 7/19)

"US occupation forces step up assault against Baquba. Killing and
injury of seven US soldiers in Baghdad" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th,
7/19)

"Muttaki: Talks with Washington on Iraq will commence soon on
ambassadorial level" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 7/19)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

--------------------------------------

"Culture of Optimism and Satisfaction"

--------------------------------------

Abdul-Fattah Awad, Chief Editor of government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(7/19): "In his speech, President Asad offered us a new dose of
optimism and satisfaction.... He promoted the culture of optimism as
opposed to the culture of frustration that many are trying to
promote....

"President Asad was realistic when he said that what was achieved in
the past seven years was less than hoped for but more than
expected.... The speech was characterized by transparency and
frankness and showed that Asad is aware of everything happening in
the country, including peoples' discussion of certain issues
entailing objective criticism of some points....

"President Asad showed high confidence in the country, the people,
and the future....

"Asad made no mention of Lebanon in his speech.... In foreign policy
the non-mention of some issues is a message to more than one party."


-----------------------------

"'I Will Remain One of You'"

-----------------------------

Ahmad Dawwa, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, said
(7/19): "Not only did President Asad accurately diagnose our
situation with its elements and challenges, pains and joys, but he
also sent a noble message on how to use responsibility and
citizenship to serve the people and the general interest and to
build and strengthen the State so that it will always be able to
maintain its security and stability, and, more importantly, its
sovereignty, at a time when the violation of sovereignty has become
a trend in international relations and in some superpowers'
behavior...."

------------------------------

"Do Not Wager on Foolishness"

------------------------------

Khalid al-Ashhab, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote (7/19): "In his latest press conference, President Bush
repeated hackneyed expressions about the Palestinian state and the
Arab peace initiative. And because he is really not concerned with
those attractive expressions, he showed huge contradiction when he
talked, for example, about the need to build on the Arab initiative
and then immediately attacked the proponents of the initiative....

"Whenever George Bush has talked about peace, there was a new war he
waged or was preparing to wage. And whenever he has talked about
democracy, there was some mammoth chaos somewhere in the world.
What he said the day before yesterday was not an exception. Judging
from our bitter experience in what he says and does, what he said
the day before yesterday points to new, hidden bad intentions, the
details of which we do not know, but we are used to them being

bad....

"Do not wager on what Bush says... We must be alert to any US
stupidity during the period that remains of Bush's term in
office.... This period does not encourage optimism.... A US
stupidity does not require much time and effort by the Bush
Administration, but needs much vigilance and effort to repulse and
evade...."

Corbin

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