Cablegate: Your October 31 Visit to Paris


DE RUEHFR #4362/01 2991402
P 261402Z OCT 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) This message is Sensitive But Unclassified - not for
internet distribution.

2. (SBU) Introduction and Summary: Your visit comes close
to six months into Nicolas Sarkozy's five-year term. Sarkozy
has made effective use of his policy of inclusiveness
("ouverture"), bringing in leading figures of the opposition,
including the Socialist Party (such as Foreign Minister
Kouchner), the non-Gaullist center-right, and civil society.
In addition, he shattered the white-male cast of previous
French governments with his appointments of women and
minorities to key ministries. However, the team,s
cohesiveness has suffered of late from public displays of
tension between the "hyperactive" president and several
members of his cabinet (including the Prime Minister). With
the opposition Socialist Party demoralized, and being in full
control of all the levers of power, beginning with the
Presidency, the Parliament, and the majority party, Sarkozy
dominates the politics of France. He has been assertive in
pushing an ambitious program of reform aimed at revitilizing
the country and liberating its economic potential. While
still enjoying substantial popular support (above 60% in most
polls), a difficult international economic environment and
France's budgetary constraints are restricting his room to
maneuver and a nationwide strike on October 18-19 provided
the first political challenge to Sarkozy and his team.

3.(SBU) On the foreign policy front, Sarkozy is intent on
reasserting French leadership in Europe and in making his
mark on the international scene. He has moved to improve his
relations with the U.S., breaking with Chirac's emphasis on
multi-polarity. We have seen a dramatic shift in French
policy on Iraq, public debate over a possible French "return"
to the integrated military command of NATO, a toughened
approach to Iran and Russia, and a promised new attitude
toward Africa. Sarkozy and Kouchner assign priority also to
Kosovo, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Darfur, as well as to
climate change. Despite convergence with the U.S. on key
issues, Sarkozy has repeatedly emphasized that being "allies"
does not mean accross-the-board and automatic "alignment"
with U.S. positions. He has not hesitated to identify
specific areas of disagreement with the U.S., including
admission of Turkey into the EU, climate change and GMOs.
This message reviews the state of play in a number of issues
that may come up in the context of your visit. End Summary.

4. (SBU) In addition to Iran, NATO, Kosovo and Afghanistan,
the main topics of your meetings with French officials are
addressed below, along with brief summaries of French
thinking on other important GOF priorites: Iraq,
Russia/Georgia, France-EU relations, Lebanon, Darfur and
climate change.

5. (SBU) IRAN: Both President Sarkozy and FM Kouchner have
gone on record with public comments about the
"unacceptability" of a nuclear-armed Iran and the need to
maintain maximum pressure on the Iranian regime. France has
recently taken the lead on this issue within the EU, with FM
Kouchner circulating a letter to the EU foreign ministers to
advocate strengthening European sanctions should the UNSC be
unable to act. At the same time, French officials emphasize
that Paris maintains a "normal" diplomatic relationship with
Teheran despite sharp disagreements on the nuclear question.
The recent visit of Israeli PM Olmert to Paris gave Israel an
opportunity to bolster France,s tough line. In your
meetings, your counterparts will be interested in your
evaluation of the ability of the international community to
influence Iranian choices and how best to maintain
international pressure toward that end.

6. (SBU) NATO: In one of his first acts as President,
Sarkozy launched a defense "white paper" commission to review
France,s defense and security priorities (the first since
1994). One component of the report (expected in March 2008)
is a review of France,s relationship with NATO. The
defense white paper could set the stage for a possible
re-integration back into the NATO military command (from
which the French military withdrew in 1966). President
Sarkozy and Defense Minister Morin launched the public debate
over a deeper French role in the Alliance in September in two
major foreign policy speeches. Sarkozy later clarified the
two conditions for a France rapprochement to NATO in a
September 24 interview in the New York Times: 1)
strengthening European defense structures by developing
Europe,s own capabilities to plan and carry out defense and
security operations; and 2) seeking French representation in
the highest "decision making posts of NATO". Editorials and
informal newspaper polls have demonstrated that there already
exists a degree of public support in re-joining NATO, despite
the long-standing French policy of independence that has been
supported across the political spectrum. Those opposed
frequently raise the previous 1996 failure to reach agreement
on the modalities for a French return or raise concerns that
fully joining NATO will merely mean placing French military
personnel under American control. Thus far, public
commentary has been fairly reasoned and many experts point to
France,s already significant role in the alliance (France is
the 5th largest contributor to NATO in terms of budget and
troops). Your visit offers an opportunity to hear from the
French where they are in their own policy review and identify
the common ground for moving forward the dialogue with France
on NATO and European defense.

7. (SBU) KOSOVO: A French general recently took over the
command of KFOR troops in Kosovo and the civilian French
leadership is actively seeking EU consensus on a common
European approach to the issue of Kosovo,s final status.
Many European countries are considering the legal basis to
maintain troop deployments and continue with planning for an
ESDP mission in Kosovo in the event of a unilateral
declaration of independence. The French are eager to work
closely with the U.S. and the Contact Group on post-December
10 actions. They are hoping that combined European and U.S.
efforts will convince the Kosovars that it is in their best
interest to be patient. The French want to avoid any
deterioration of the security situation on the ground in
Kosovo, focusing particular on the protection of minorities
in the days and weeks to come.

8. (SBU) AFGHANISTAN: In the first major foreign policy
speech of his presidency, Sarkozy highlighted the importance
of French efforts in Afghanistan, primarily in training the
Afghan National Army. To this end, France recently stepped
up military commitments by adding three additional
Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams (OMLTs) and just
announced this week that it would be sending an additional
OMLT to assist the Dutch in southern Afghanistan. France
participates in both Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and the
NATO ISAF mission and its troops are deployed largely in and
around Kabul. France has taken other decisions to bolster
its presence in Afghanistan including moving six French
Mirage planes from Dushanbe to Kandahar in September and the
September 10 pledge by the French and German heads of state
to support the German-led EU police training mission in
Afghanistan (despite delays in getting the mission up and
running). We should use the opportunity of your visit to
persuade the French to broaden and deepen their efforts in
Afghanistan. French interlocutors may repeat calls for a
more coherent political and military strategy in Afghanistan
that would integrate military support and civilian
reconstruction and include a timeline for shifting the burden
from the international coalition to the Government of

9. (SBU) RUSSIA: French President Sarkozy recently made
his first presidential visit to Russia on October 9-10. The
two leaders discussed a broad range of topics including Iran,
missile defense, Georgia and Kosovo. The visit to Moscow
highlighted a major difference in substance and style from
Franco-Russian relations in the Chirac era. Sarkozy did not
shy away from directly addressing difficult issues, including
democracy and rule of law problems in Russia, Chechnya and
energy policies. He also took the unprecedented step (for a
French President) of visiting human rights activists while in
Moscow. Despite the re-calibration in the relationship,
energy security issues and trade remain as priorities. The
French remind us of Russia's relative proximity and France's
and Europe's need to deal pragmatically with a newly
assertive Russia.

10. (SBU) GEORGIA: The Georgian press spokesman recently
reported that President Sarkozy told Georgian President
Saakashvili that he supports MAP for Georgia, but the GOF has
not confirmed this to us statement. As a general rule, the
French maintain that NATO membership should not create new
lines of division and that territorial conflicts should be
resolved prior to membership. France is considering whether
NATO could offer Georgia a different kind of status and a
different approach to regional security, possibly combined
with incentives.

11. (SBU) IRAQ: FM Koucher,s three-day visit to Iraq in
August launched new dialogue on French engagement in Iraq
reconstruction efforts, particularly to relieve what they see
as a harsh humanitarian situation. Since then, the GOF has
hosted President Talibani and FM Zebari and they remain
interested in engaging with local Iraqi officials. The
renewed GOF engagement does not include any commitment of
French troops in Iraq, but Kouchner has pressed the EU to
become more active in multinational efforts at reconstruction
(which France would like the UN to head up). Significantly,
Kouchner plans to attend the upcoming ministerial meeting in
Istanbul of Iraq,s "neighbors". We should encourage the
French to move ahead to implement humanitarian and
reconstruction programs in Iraq.

12. (SBU) LEBANON: FM Kouchner has been closely associated
with efforts to help Lebanon elect a new president and emerge
from its present political crisis. He recently completed a
trip of EU Foreign Ministers to Lebanon (which included the
Foreign Ministers of Spain and Italy as well) and will likely
return there after his visit to Washington. In addition,
President Sarkozy authorized announcement of France,s
tranche of more than $6 million for the Special Tribunal,
which France had been withholding pending a formal request
for contributions by the UN Secretary-General. Our close
consultations with the French over Lebanon continue, although
we differ over tactics and the risks associated with election
of a president via simple majority. The French emphasize the
importance of finding a "consensus" candidate acceptable to

13. (SBU) Climate Change: On his election day, Sarkozy
called for a greater U.S leadership role on climate issues.
He has created a mega, environment ministry incorporating
energy and transportation headed by the third-highest ranking
Minister in the French Government. This super ministry has
conducted a broad based review of environmental issues with
business, NGOs, academics, and foreign experts in a process
called The Grenelle for the Environment." After the
President,s Major Economies Meeting (MEM) in late September
in Washington, French officials offered to host the next
meeting while expressing some disappointment with both the
lack of agreement on a post-Kyoto emissions goal and U.S.
reluctance regarding market-based cap and trade measures.
Areas of potential conflict include concerns that a failure
for a broad adoption of similar carbon reduction schemes will
put European industry at a competitive disadvantage and the
possible French advocacy of a European imposed carbon tax on
imported goods. The French also criticize what they see as
U.S. over-reliance on yet-to-be-developed technologies
(carbon capture and storage, second generation bio-fuels, and
advanced nuclear) to address emissions. France is skeptical
that China and India and other major emerging economies will
take steps to reduce emissions unless the U.S. moves first.

14. (C) FRANCE-EU: President Sarkozy was instrumental in
re-activating the moribund political reform process in the
European Union with the June negotiation for a shortened
"reform treaty" that will simplify some of the EU,s
operating procedures, while side-stepping efforts of deepened
political integration that doomed the EU constitution in
2005. This "reform treaty" was approved by EU leaders in
Lisbon last week and is scheduled to be signed in December
with ratification over the course of 2008. Sarkozy has said
publicly he wants France to be the first country to ratify
the simplified treaty; the process of parliamentary
ratification will begin in December. The French will also
take over the rotating EU presidency from July-December 2008
and plan to focus on immigration, energy, the environment and
European defense during their term. While Sarkozy remains
firmly opposed to EU enlargement to include Turkey, he has
effectively sidestepped this issue by supporting continued
negotiations on the acquis communautaire that do not
pre-suppose membership. He also conditioned his position on
EU support for a "Committee of Wise Men" to reflect "without
taboos" on the broader questions about the European future:
ie, what is the European identity, what should the EU,s
borders be, how to handle common issues, and how deep can
political integration go.

15. (SBU) DARFUR (and Chad, Central African Republic):
Sarkozy demonstrated an immediate renewed interest in Africa
upon entering office, with France calling for and organizing
the June 25 ministerial conference on Darfur, which served to
refocus international attention on that country. The French
followed up with a ministerial meeting on Darfur on the
margins of the UNGA in New York in September and then hosted
a broader Security Council session on Africa for
heads-of-state/government. France has been instrumental in
organizing a separate Security Council-blessed EU-UN
peacekeeping mission in Chad and the Central African Republic
(MINURCAT). Paris hopes to deploy this force as soon as
practicable. In addition, the French have firmly supported
the deployment of the hybrid UN-AU force in Darfur (UNAMID).
French Presidency officials have indicated that the GOF is
reviewing overall policy towards Africa, with a possible new
approach to be announced within the coming months
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: fm


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