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Cablegate: Meeting the Prime Minister

P 100450Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8697
INFO AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY JAKARTA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY
AMCONSUL MELBOURNE PRIORITY
AMCONSUL PERTH PRIORITY
AMCONSUL SYDNEY PRIORITY
CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L CANBERRA 001738

SIPDIS


NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/10/2017
TAGS: AF AS CH IR IZ NZ PREL
SUBJECT: MEETING THE PRIME MINISTER

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION DANIEL CLUNE. REASON: 1.4 (D)

1. (C/NF) Summary: At a December 8 meeting with Prime
Minister Kevin Rudd, the Ambassador offered his
congratulations and noted the positive tone set by the
recent meetings of Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns
with the Foreign and Defense Ministers and the Deputy Prime
Minister. The Ambassador said that these meetings were a
good start to the consultations on the way forward on Iraq.
The Ambassador said he hoped that Australia, while not
selling uranium to India, would be able to join other
members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in supporting
the cooperative arrangement with New Delhi. Referring to
the Prime Minister's recent signing of the Kyoto Accord, the
Ambassador said that this should not diminish post-Kyoto
cooperation on climate change.

2. (C/NF) Rudd told the Ambassador that no relationship is
more important to Australia than its alliance with the
United States. He said that the withdrawal of combat
elements from Iraq will not be the end of be Australia's
commitment to Iraq. He intends to visit Iraq and
Afghanistan soon to meet with those countries' leaders. His
Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon will deliver a "robust"
message at the Edinburgh Afghanistan conference -
underlining Australia's strong, long-term commitment in
Afghanistan. Rudd noted that a bilateral meeting between
Fitzgibbon and Secretary Gates on the margins of the
conference would be very useful. On the NSG question, Rudd
said he understood the Administration's goal and promised to
get back to us, "earlier rather than later." Rudd said that
he believes India and China should be "brought into the
game" on climate change and stressed that it will not be his
intention "to give the U.S. grief" over the climate issue.
Referring to his previous career as a diplomat in Beijing,
Rudd said that he will not be "starry-eyed" in his dealings
with China. Turning to Iran, Rudd said he wants to work
closely with the United States and described Ahmedinejad as
"loathesome." End summary.

U.S. RELATIONSHIP IS "CORE BUSINESS"

3. (C/NF) In response to a request by the Ambassador for a
meeting shortly after the recent election, Prime Minister
Rudd invited him to his home in Brisbane on December 8. A
casually-dressed Rudd greeted the Ambassador (accompanied by
DCM and Polcouns) and after introducing his two teenage
sons, conducted the meeting in his family room. His
personal assistant took notes. After accepting the
Ambassador's congratulations on his victory, Rudd also
expressed appreciation for the President's congratulatory
telephone call after the election. Noting that the
Ambassador was the first foreign envoy he met with (adding
that New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark was flying to
Brisbane the next day to meet with him), Rudd emphasized that
there was no relationship more important to Australia than
its alliance with the United States. The U.S. relationship,
he explained, was "core business" to him.

RUDD TO VISIT IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN

4. (C) Referring to the visit of Under Secretary Nicholas
Burns earlier in the week, the Ambassador described his
QBurns earlier in the week, the Ambassador described his
Meetings with Rudd's Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister
and Defense Minister as a good start to the consultative
process for Australia's withdrawal of combat troops in Iraq.
Rudd assured that the withdrawal will not mean the end of
Australia's commitment to Iraq. "We are leaving other
(security, training, air and naval) stuff there," Rudd
noted. He wants the withdrawal to cause "minimum grief" to
the U.S. and is flexible on the timing of the "mid-year"
withdrawal. He agreed that the optics of how the transition
is managed is important and that "we will not pull a
Zapatero on you." In fact, Rudd said, he plans to visit
both Iraq and Afghanistan soon to meet with the leaders of
those countries. His National Security Cabinet will conduct
an extensive review on Iraq in the coming months and explore
other ways of providing assistance to the country.

STRONG RESOLVE ON AFGHANISTAN

5. (C) The Prime Minister said that he is giving "robust"
guidance to Defense Minister Fitzgibbon on the stance he

should take in Edinburgh at the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) Regional Command South Ministerial
conference on Afghanistan on December 13. According to the
PM, Fitzgibbon will strongly state that "Australia is in
Afghanistan for the long haul" and that "We,re mindful of
how difficult it is but are rock solid." He thought such
comments would be helpful in light of the reticence of
certain European countries to continue their commitments to
Afghanistan. Rudd said that it would be useful for Fitzgibbon
to meet bilaterally with Secretary Gates in Edinburgh.
INDIA AND THE NUCLEAR SUPPLIERS GROUP

6. (C) The Ambassador said he hoped that Australia, while
not selling uranium to India, would be able to join other
members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in supporting
the cooperative arrangement with New Delhi. Rudd said he
"was very mindful of the complexities" and understood full
well the importance that the Administration attached to the
arrangement. He promised to get back to us, "seeking to
bring clarity earlier rather than later."
BALI CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

7. (C) The Prime Minister's signing of the Kyoto Accord
has not diminished the scope for U.S.-Australia cooperation
in the post-Kyoto period, the Ambassador stated. The
Ambassador noted that Council on Environmental Quality
Chairman James Connaughton and Under Secretary of State for
Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, among others,
were attending the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
in Bali. He also noted that he had been in touch earlier in
the week with Environment Minister Peter Garrett and
Minister for Climate Change and Water Penny Wong to discuss
the conference. Rudd, who was scheduled to leave for
Indonesia on December 11, said that he realized that the Bali
meeting was to elaborate a process and not to be
prescriptive. He emphasized that the Australian approach
would be "rational and cautious" and he had "no intention to
give the U.S. public grief over the issue." Rudd said that
India and China must be "brought into the game" on
emissions. Rudd had spoken with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao
on the telephone recently and that Wen had seen "less
defensive" on the issue when Rudd stressed the importance of
China's role. Rudd said it was important to bridge the gap
between developed and undeveloped countries.

CHINA

8. (C) Rudd observed that, although a number of people have
concluded that because he speaks Chinese and served as a
diplomat in China he will be a soft touch with Beijing, he
is "not starry-eyed towards China." Describing himself as a
realist, Rudd recognized the need to make China a
responsible international stakeholder. Rudd said that he
does not underestimate the complexity of the Chinese
situation and wants to "get inside the heads of their senior
leadership on their long-term plans". He will devote a
considerable amount of time thinking through the
government,s strategy for dealing with China over the next
quarter century, Rudd said. He added that he wanted a side
dialogue with the United States on "what would be useful in
the future".

IRAN

9. (C) Rudd inquired about the recent NIE estimate. The
Q9. (C) Rudd inquired about the recent NIE estimate. The
Ambassador explained that the cessation of Iran,s nuclear
weapons program doesn,t mean that its continuing enrichment
and ballistic missile programs do not pose a threat. The
Prime Minister said that the U.S. and Australia must keep in
close contact and share the best intelligence possible on
Iranian capailities and intentions. Rudd described
Ahmedinejad as a "loathsome individual on every level" and
said that the Iranian President's anti-semitism "turns my
stomach." He noted that he knew enough about the
complexities of Iranian politics to understand that it was
critical to ensure that any action we take must serve to
weaken Ahmedinejad, rather than entrench him.

AUSMIN

10. After the Ambassador briefed him on the possible dates,
Rudd said that he wanted to attend the meetings himself and
that the sooner they were held the better. Canberra would be

a more convenient venue than Perth, he said, and suggested
that the meetings be held during a Parliamentary sitting
week.

ANNAPOLIS AND PARIS DONORS CONFERENCE

11. Discussion reported septel.

COMMENT

12. (C) The Prime Minister took pains to emphasize the
importance of Australia's alliance with the U.S. and his
desire to carefully manage the relationship, especially in
areas where to two governments' policies diverge. His
hesitancy to provide immediate replies on the the Paris
Conference and the India/NSG case is likely the result of
DFAT working to come up to speed on briefing the PM as his
new government settles in. The welcoming and informal nature
of the meeting suggests that the new Prime Minister wants to
maintain an umimpeded and open dialogue with Washington.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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