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Cablegate: French Presidency Nea Adviser On the "Colossal

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DE RUEHFR #3740 2530513
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C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 003740

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/07/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV FR LI
SUBJECT: FRENCH PRESIDENCY NEA ADVISER ON THE "COLOSSAL
SUCCESS" OF THE RELEASE FROM LIBYA OF THE BULGARIAN "MEDICS"


Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt for reaso
ns 1.4.(b), (d).

1. (C) In the course of a September 6 meeting largely
devoted to Lebanon (septel notal), French Presidency adviser
on NEA issues Boris Boillon spoke briefly about France's role
in securing the release of Bulgarian "medics" from Libyan
custody. Boillon stated that he was one of only three people
other than President Sarkozy in the GOF -- Presidency
Secretary General Claude Gueant, Diplomatic Adviser

SIPDIS
Jean-David Levitte, and himself -- fully in the loop. He
accompanied Gueant and first lady Cecilia Sarkozy on both
trips to Libya prior to the release. Although she proved
critical to the release, Cecilia was only aware of part of
the overall French effort. Boillon boasted, for example,
that he listened in on all the phone calls Sarkozy made to
Libyan leader Qadhafi. When asked whether he expected the
National Assembly's investigative committee to summon him to
testify when it convenes to review all aspects of the
supposed "deal" the GOF struck with Libya to release the
medics, Boillon said it was possible but he had not yet been
identified as a participant much less a witness. Boillon
seemed to revel a bit in his still secret role but surmised
that it may only be a question of time before investigators
catch on to his role, as he can clearly be seen in photos
wearing sunglasses on the tarmac in Sofia after the release
behind Mme. Sarkozy.

2. (C) Clearly still basking in the afterglow of what the
Elysee considers an unbridled diplomatic triumph, Boillon
attributed much of the success to the GOF astutely playing
the "Sarkozy card" with Qadhafi. He said that Claude Gueant
sold the Libyans on the notion that Sarkozy was a dynamic new
European leader who would be able to influence the EU in ways
that could break the diplomatic impasse over the medics and
pave the way for a better EU/Libya relationship. Sarkozy
agreed to supplement this with a promise to Qadhafi of an
"excellent" bilateral relationship that would extend into all
domains and provide economic/commercial as well as political
and security benefits.

3. (C) We asked about the political downsides, if any, of
this closer French relationship with Libya given its past.
Boillon replied that most French have supported and praised
the French initiative with Libya. He claimed this included
average French citizens and transcended political dividing
lines. Other than the political and press criticism (see
below), the only organized opposition to rapprochement with
Libya has come from the families of French victims of Libyan
terrorism, notably the 1989 bombing of UTA flight 772 over
Niger. Boillon recounted his meeting with representatives of
these families who asked three things of the GOF: no deal
over the six Libyan officials found guilty in absentia in
French courts for their involvement in the UTA bombing (most
notably Libyan military intelligence chief Abdallah Sanussi),
GOF help urging the Libyans to provide an additional five
million euros in compensation for families that have fallen
on hard times, and a GOF commitment to send a representative
to Niger next year for a ceremony to open a memorial in the
desert to the victims. Boillon indicated the GOF readily
agreed to all three requests.

4. (C) While there is no story left to uncover, the press
continues to look for details not yet unearthed or to
exaggerate what it finds. This has been the case with the
role of Mme. Sarkozy but also the arms contracts signed by
EADS and other companies with the Libyans. Boillon professed
that the arms deals were a genuine surprise for the GOF, and
this "communications problem" was feeding the impression that
there was more yet to be revealed. Boillon minimized the
damage that could be done. Sarkozy remained very happy over
the "colossal success" of his Libya initiative. The French
"honeymoon" with Sarkozy will inevitably end, but Boillon was
confident that it would not be over some as yet unrevealed
aspect of "the deal" that led to the Bulgarians' release.

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


PEKALA

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