Cablegate: Ambassador Mceldowney's Bilateral Meetings In
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHLO #2567/01 3201551
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161551Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3978
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 LONDON 002567
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/15/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL MOPS SOCI ECON PK AF OSCE NATO EU
RS, IR, UK
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MCELDOWNEY'S BILATERAL MEETINGS IN
REF: LONDON 2509 Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Greg Berry, for reasons 1.4(b) and (d)
1. (C/NF) Summary and Introduction. During her November 9-11 visit to London, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Nancy McEldowney discussed a range of issues in bilateral meetings with UK officials. Julian Miller, Deputy Head of the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat at the Cabinet Office, affirmed Prime Minister Brown's commitment to the UK's engagement in Afghanistan, noting that Brown delivered a November 6 speech about Afghanistan to "steady the ship" and ensure that the UK's Afghan policy remains on course. Ambassador McEldowney discussed the NATO Strategic Review, strategic nuclear deterrence issues, NATO-EU cooperation, EU foreign policy and defense issues, OSCE's Corfu process, missile defense, and CFE with HMG interlocutors. Miller said that the NATO Strategic Review should reflect the role of nuclear deterrence and firmly reiterate Article 5 commitments. Paul Johnston, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's (FCO) Director for International Security, said that the U.S. nuclear policy review would be particularly important for the Alliance, given the new German government. Johnston agreed that discussion of the Medvedev proposal should remain anchored in OSCE's Corfu process. Matthew Rycroft, Director of the European Union Office at the FCO, told McEldowney that when the U.S. proclaims it supports a strong and united Europe, it sends a powerful message to the UK, which wants to be a strategic transatlantic partner as well as an influential player in Europe.
2. (C/NF) Summary and Introduction Continued: Conservative Shadow Minister for Europe Mark Francois told Ambassador McEldowney that the Tories would continue to be supportive in Afghanistan, recognizing that a "long-haul" commitment would be necessary to confront the "complexity" of the threat emanating from Afghanistan and its potential to spread to Pakistan and Iran. In addition to her bilateral meetings, Ambassador McEldowney participated in a "Quad" meeting with her UK, French and Germany counterparts. (Septel) End Summary and Introduction.
3. (C/NF) Julian Miller, Deputy Head of the Foreign and Defence Policy Secretariat at the Cabinet Office, stated that Prime Minister Brown delivered a November 6 speech about Afghanistan to "steady the ship" and ensure that the UK's Afghan policy remains on course. Recent British casualties in Afghanistan, especially during the previous week, had made for a "very difficult" period and Brown delivered his speech in order to reaffirm and clarify the reasons for the UK's commitment in Afghanistan, Miller said. Brown feels "very deeply" about corruption and the needs of the Afghan people, as outlined in his speech, Miller stated.
4. (C/NF) Miller observed that the U.S. focus on dismantling and destroying Al Qaida, encouraging the reintegration into mainstream Afghan society of moderate Taliban elements, protecting the civilian population, and building indigenous capabilities complements and corresponds with the UK position. Miller stated that HMG is inclined to support the establishment of a senior coordinator to serve alongside General McChrystal, but he acknowledged that "finding the right person is complicated."
Nuclear Disarmament -------------------
5. (C/NF) Miller asked Ambassador McEldowney to keep HMG informed of the progress of the Nuclear Posture Review. Miller affirmed that Prime Minister Brown shares President Obama's vision of a nuclear weapons free world. Brown believes "it is important to have a vision ) but a realistic one," as outlined by the President, Miller said. Brown has concluded that nuclear weapons states can make progress toward multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-nuclear weapons states can contribute to global nonproliferation goals, Miller stated. Miller affirmed that HMG is committed to maintaining a "minimum, credible, independent, nuclear deterrent."
NATO: Nuclear Policy, Strategic Concept ---------------------------------------
6. (C/NF) The NATO Strategic Review should reflect the role of nuclear deterrence and firmly reiterate Article 5 LONDON 00002567 002 OF 004 commitments, Miller stated. Miller said he rejected the "false zero sum" view of some allies that holds that "anything that envisages a new role for NATO comes at the expense of Article 5 guarantees . . . our view is the opposite." The new Strategic Concept should reflect a "process that does not paint us into a corner before other countries can make their views known," he said. Miller stated that the U.S. decision on missile defense appeared to be a "smart move."
7. (C) Miller expressed general agreement with Ambassador McEldowney's description of NATO's open door policy, observing that "the principle of not having a closed door seems right."
8. (C/NF) Paul Johnston, the FCO's Director for International Security, believed that the U.S. nuclear policy review would be particularly important for the Alliance, given the new German government. While some Allies believed there was no deterrent value, others saw it as the political underpinning of the U.S. commitment to Europe. Johnston said that HMG had no fixed opinion, though it had prepared an options paper questioning whether there was anything to be gained from the Russians by changing policy. Allies also needed to decide how to treat deterrence in the review of NATO's Strategic Concept; in 1999, it had been a struggle to include language on this point. While the Strategic Concept needed to confirm the role of extended deterrence, it may not need to go into specifics.
9. (C/NF) McEldowney agreed; extended deterrence was part of a strong Article 5 commitment. But we also needed to signal support for the NPT process in the new Strategic Concept. McEldowney stressed that these were not war-fighting instruments, but elements of geostrategic and political deterrence. Above all, we wanted to move forward in a way that drew Allies together.
10. (C/NF) Johnston said that when Foreign Secretary Miliband meets NATO SYG Rasmussen on November 12, he plans to put forward a two-part approach to the Strategic Concept: a short political document that would reaffirm key concepts (Articles 4 and 5, deterrence, consultation, working in partnership), and a second document spelling out how to meet those challenges, including NATO priorities and reform. McEldowney agreed we should not reprise the 1999 effort, but aim for something succinct at the political level that gives strong impetus to reform, restructuring, and preparedness to meet new threats, including equipment and training. Johnston agreed; forces should be flexible and capable, not limited by geographic scope.
11. (C/NF) On NATO-EU cooperation, Johnston discounted the likelihood of a change in Turkey's views (at least prior to its eventual EU entry). The UK was concerned that people would gradually come to view the relationship as simply dysfunctional. If so, that would bolster arguments by some in the EU who favored separate capabilities ) a waste of resources. The French continued to resist NATO-EU defense planning; the UK goal was not to undermine EU autonomy, but to allow the two organizations to interface better. However, Johnston hoped that implementation of the EU's Lisbon Treaty would allow the NATO SYG and the new EU High Representative to work together.
EU Security and Foreign Policy Issues -------------------------------------
12. (C/NF) Despite France's insistence to keep European Security and Defense Policy out of the purview of the External Action Service (EAS), the UK eventually prevailed in convincing France and other Member States to incorporate three and possibly four civilian-military bodies under EAS, Matthew Rycroft, Director of the European Union Office, FCO, told McEldowney. They are: the Civilian Planning and Coordination Cell, Civilian Military Planning Directorate, the EU Military Staff and the Situation Center; consensus on the last is still not assured, however. The depth and scope of the External Action Service are still under debate, particularly in the areas of development assistance and consular protection; the UK is focused on ensuring that the EAS in all its various dimensions is compatible with the UK's foreign policy objectives, he stated. Rycroft concurred with McEldowney's observation that there needs to be greater EU-NATO cooperation, but also acknowledged that the issues of Turkey and Cyprus often present impediments to enhanced LONDON 00002567 003 OF 004 cooperation.
13. (C/NF) On Bosnia and Herzegovina, Rycroft, who was recently the UK's Ambassador to Sarajevo, said he was concerned about the deepening ethnic divisions and the threat of a new conflict. The UK believes it might not be appropriate to close right now the Office of the High Representative (OHR), but Rycroft noted that many other European countries are pressing for an immediate closure. McEldowney pointed to the work of Deputy Secretary Jim Steinberg and former Swedish PM Carl Bildt in Bosnia as an example of how the U.S. and EU can cooperate on a critical foreign policy issue.
14. (C/NF) On enlargement, the UK would advocate for a greater push on the membership of the Balkan states, Rycroft said, but noted that the tide toward enlargement in general has shifted, especially in light of the economic crisis. Member States are focused on getting their own economic houses in order before they would be willing to consider taking on countries with struggling economies. He also pointed to the problem of Macedonia. McEldowney briefed him on discussions with Greek PM Papandreou concerning the naming issue of Macedonia.
15. (C/NF) On a "united" Europe, Rycroft said that when the U.S. proclaims it supports a strong and united Europe, it sends a powerful message to the UK, which wants to be a strategic transatlantic partner as well as an influential player in Europe. This message helps pro-Europe British politicians effectively play both roles. He added the current UK government prefers having a transformative figure to be selected as EU President, and believes that Tony Blair is not completely out of the running as a candidate.
16. (C/NF) On CFE, McEldowney confirmed in her meeting with Paul Johnston that ) despite Russia's two-year non-observance ) we would exchange data this year. However, the situation was not sustainable, and we would call on Russia to observe its obligations. The question remained: how to bring Russia on board while preserving Alliance unity? Johnston agreed that the Quad needed to reflect on its CFE equities. The outlines of a "deal" Russia would accept were clear, but was it a deal worth having? How damaging would Russia's non-participation be? Should we seek a modernized regime? In the short term, we needed to keep the Alliance on the same page. McEldowney noted that even if we could reach agreement with Russia on the flank, we would not get Alliance agreement on Russian forces in Georgia and Moldova ) and nor would we get such a deal through Congress or the House of Commons.
17. (C/NF) McEldowney stressed to Johnston that the Medvedev proposal should remain firmly in the OSCE's Corfu process. We would not be in a position to endorse the Kazakh proposal for a Summit during this month's Athens ministerial; we would want to see sufficient progress on substance before agreeing. Johnston agreed that discussion should remain anchored in OSCE; Russia now appeared to be "forum shopping," advocating a different process (or discussion in the NATO-Russia Council).
18. (C/NF) Johnston noted that the Russians were also pressing for a review of the OSCE's Vienna Document; the U.S. and UK were both opposed (though France, Germany, Turkey, Spain, Luxembourg and Italy were inclined to support it). As FSC chair, the UK did not intend to accept the Russian proposal, but rather look at ways to examine CSBMs.
Missile Defense ---------------
19. (C/NF) On ballistic missile defense, McEldowney welcomed the positive deliberations at the Defense Ministerial in Bratislava. On balance, it was better to wait for endorsement at Lisbon, however, rather than pushing for it at December's ministerial. Our phased adaptive approach made NATO's BMP more credible. Johnston agreed it would provide a meaningful base at Lisbon.
20. (C/NF) In light of the Foreign Secretary's recent visit to Moscow, Johnston asked whether the Russians were taking the opportunity to "reset" relations with the U.S. McEldowney LONDON 00002567 004 OF 004 underscored our focus on getting a START agreement by the December 5 deadline. In addition, the NATO-Russia council should be more productive, including taking practical steps on missile defense, counter-narcotics, and Afghanistan. On CSTO, Johnston and McEldowney agreed that we should not give it more legitimacy, nor treat it as a parallel to NATO.
One Conservative Perspective ----------------------------
21. (C/NF) Conservative Shadow Minister for Europe Mark Francois previewed for PDAS McEldowney priorities and positions that a future Conservative government would have with respect to Afghanistan, the European Union, and the Balkans. Francois indicated that the Tories would continue to be supportive in Afghanistan, recognizing that a "long-haul" commitment would be necessary to confront the "complexity" of the threat emanating from Afghanistan and its potential to spread to Pakistan and Iran. Francois, a former Territorial Army officer, criticized HMG for its failure to provide adequate equipment to British forces in Afghanistan and its failure to advocate effectively for the war effort at home. He noted diminished public support for the war in the UK and expressed the hope that the President would make his decision on next steps in Afghanistan quickly so that the UK could adjust its own policy and hoped that the U.S. would be "forward-leaning" in reviewing its options. Francois reiterated that the Tories in government would do what they could if Britain were asked to provide more troops.
22. (C/NF) Francois recalled that public opinion on HMG's handling of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty had been consistently low, and that all parties had promised a referendum on the treaty in some degree. The package of measures that party leader David Cameron had announced (reftel) were realistic and would ensure an "Irish lock" for future referenda. British opt-outs and a proposed Sovereignty Bill under the Conservatives, he said, would help delineate and define the EU's power in the UK. Francois also raised the Balkans and the need to be doing more to confront troubling developments in Bosnia Herzegovina and Republic Srpska. He indicated that it remained the Tory position to maintain the Office of High Representative in Bosnia and that there was a positive role for the EU to play. Arminka Helic, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague's senior advisor, added that it would help to have an increased U.S. role in the Balkans to move things forward.
23. (U) This cable was cleared by PDAS McEldowney. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX