Cablegate: France and Brazil: The Start of a Love Affair


DE RUEHFR #1526/01 3211521
P 171521Z NOV 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 001526


E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2019

Classified By: Classified By: Kathleen Allegrone, Minister Counselor, r
eason 1.4, b and d.

1. (C) SUMMARY: Considered "a love fest" by the MFA, the
growing Franco-Brazilian relationship under Presidents
Sarkozy and Lula is likely to result in more political,
diplomatic, economic, and military engagement in the next
three years and throughout Sarkozy's time in office.
Committed to expanding France's role as a global player,
Sarkozy is preparing for the French G-8 and G-20 presidency
in 2011 with a foreign policy of reaching out to emerging
powers in an effort to promote France's international clout.
His direct involvement in the not yet concluded Rafale
fighter jet sale to Brazil highlights his use of his personal
ties with Lula to persistently court the regional giant and
will serve as a model of French entree into Latin America and
beyond. In Paris on November 14, Lula and Sarkozy met to
address climate change issues which included an announcement
that Sarkozy will travel to Latin America next week which we
view as a continuation of the French President,s charm
offensive. Septels will address economic and environmental
aspects of this bilateral relationship. Post welcomes
Embassy Brasilia's comments on this assessment. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Highly encouraged by the growing importance of the
G-20 precipitated by the economic crisis, President Nicholas
Sarkozy is recalibrating his policies by increasingly
courting populous, non-aligned states in the hopes of
extending French international influence. Ahead of assuming
both the G-8 and G-20 presidency in 2011, Sarkozy has been
wooing what he calls "countries which are bridgeheads," or
states with which France has traditionally not had a close
relationship, and forming a body of allies that will help the
GOF refashion its image as a key leader in a multi-polar
world. (See septel on economic and G-20 issues.)

3. (C) In his August 26 annual address to French diplomats,
Sarkozy declared that the G-8 should be expanded to include
Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Egypt to form
the G-14, or what he has dubbed with Lula as the &Alliance
for Change,8 promising to implement the change during the
French G-8 presidency. Even before becoming President, he
has demonstrated a policy of actively pursuing the potential
six new members of the G-14 formation, starting with Brazil.
Employing multi-billion dollar military and civilian trade
deals as his calling card, Sarkozy has successfully managed
to forge extremely close ties with Brazil in the past two
years, picking up from where his predecessor Chirac left off
in a previous attempt to woo the world,s fifth most populous
nation of 200 million.

4. (C) Having first met in 2007, Brazilian embassy contacts
in Paris described the initial bilateral meeting as the
"start of the love affair" where Sarkozy and Luiz Inacio Lula
da Silva discovered that they shared "a vision of a new
multilateralism" in global governance and the view of Brazil
as a vast market and regional platform for France. Sarkozy
has often remarked that the two agree on a "near totality of
issues," including economic recovery, climate change, and
security. Brazilian diplomats noted that the two men have
very similar personalities and that Lula has often commented
that looking at Sarkozy is like "looking in the mirror." The
two leaders have put an emphasis on their warm personal
chemistry and France's status as the only EU country sharing
a border with Brazil, with French Guiana located just north
of South America's largest country. The "unique" bilateral
partnership and close friendship between the energetic
Sarkozy and the charismatic and popular Lula is of particular
note given that the Brazilian president does not speak
English or French and the relationship is conducted almost
exclusively through interpreters. Nonetheless, Brazilian
diplomats based in Paris commented that the two men speak "a
distinct common language" motivated by their drive to reshape
the world order.

5. (C) Explaining that Chirac was responsible for starting
the strategic relationship with Brazil based on the two
countries' long history of common values, MFA Assistant
Secretary for the Americas Elisabeth Beton-Delegue echoed the
Brazilians on October 7, calling the friendship between
Sarkozy and Lula a real "love story" and noted that Brazil
represents one of France's diplomatic and commercial
priorities in the Americas under the current French
President. Sarkozy met with Lula four times in 2008 and has
already held four bilateral meetings with his Brazilian
counterpart in 2009. First Lady Carla Bruni did not
participate in the French President's most recent trip to
Brasilia to the disappointment of the Brazilian public, who
reportedly greatly appreciate the fact that France's first
couple often vacation in their country, according to the
Brazilian embassy in Paris. Comment: We judge that Sarkozy
takes full advantage of Carla Bruni,s individual popularity
and their popularity as a couple to advance French national
interests in Brazil.

6. (C) The close relationship between Sarkozy and Lula grew
from solid foundations. As France's leading trade partner in
Latin America, Brazil hosts over 420 French companies which
employ approximately 400,000 people. French exports totaled
over $5 billion and Brazilian exports to France over $6
billion in 2008. The Brazilians have a well established
military relationship with the French that dates back to the
mid-1980s, most recently including a $12 billion arms and
technology transfer deal passed by the Brazilian Senate on
September 3, in which France will help Brasilia establish
their nascent nuclear submarine program, according to
Brazilian Embassy sources in Paris.

7. (C) In addition, Brazil is France's leading regional
partner for cultural, scientific, and technical cooperation.
Three French secondary schools in Sao Paolo, Rio de Janeiro,
and Brasilia have a total of 2,200 students, half of which
are French nationals. Considered the most culturally
influential foreign country by our Brazilian diplomatic
contacts, the Alliance Francaise in Brazil constitutes the
oldest and most extensive in the world, with 74
establishments in 52 towns. Brazil is currently celebrating
the "Year of France," with a series of cultural and
cooperative events in commerce and technology to reciprocate
the "Year of Brazil" in France in 2005. Their embassy in
Paris noted that Brazil is currently engaging in tri-lateral
cooperation with the French on agricultural projects in a
host of African countries (Cameroon, Mozambique, Uganda) and
are interested in developing their foreign policy initiatives
in the region, as they have a large Afro-Brazilian
population. Further illustrating the strength of the
existing Franco-Brazilian ties, Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe
was made an "honorary citizen" of the city of Rio de Janeiro
on October 27 by his counterpart mayor, Eduardor Paes, after
the two men signed an agreement focused on the revitalization
and renovation of Rio's port areas. Both countries also
shared recent grief over the loss of 228 people onboard Air
France Flight 447 in June, when the Airbus A330 disappeared
over the Atlantic Ocean during a Rio de Janeiro-Paris flight.
Over 500 relatives of the victims and 40 members of Air
France held a memorial service on November 7 in Rio, with
junior French minister Alain Joyandet, in charge of overseas
cooperation, representing the GOF.

8. (C) Paris used the positive political climate to try to
position the Rafale as the winner in the competition to equip
the Brazilian Air Force with new fighter aircraft, in the
hopes of edging out the American F/A-18 Super Hornet and the
Swedish Grippen. Politically motivated, the Brazilian Foreign
Ministry decision to publicly announce their intention to go
with French company Dassault, which makes the Rafale, over
the Brazilian Air Force's preferred Super Hornet stemmed from
Lula's close relationship with Sarkozy. Although the deal
known as "F-X2" or the fleet expansion is still unsettled,
the French President did much to persuade his Brazilian
counterpart to lean toward the French-made fighter jets in
his two-day trip to Brasilia, where he dined with Lula and
was the special guest at Brazil's September 7 Independence
Day celebrations, which featured French Foreign Legion troops
and an over-flight of French planes. In so doing, he
attempted to demonstrate that his political ties with Lula
are ultimately reinforced by industrial deals. Sarkozy
presented the myth that France is the perfect partner for
states that do not want to rely on U.S. technology, even
though the U.S. has agreed in principle to transfer relevant
technology if Brazil purchases the F-18. However, if the
Rafale sale goes through, Dassault may have to request
export-control licenses from the U.S. for parts built with
American technology. Although the F-X2 decision has yet to
be confirmed by Brazil, the GOF appears confident that it has
beaten out the American and Swedish competition thanks to
Sarkozy's diplomatic efforts. Moreover, Brazilian poloff
Bruno de Lacerda Carrilho in Paris revealed on October 8 that
Brasilia has been particularly receptive to such personal
engagement at the Presidential level by France, posing the
question of whether Obama would become personally involved.
Marking his fifth visit to Brazil this year, Sarkozy is
scheduled to travel to Manaus on November 26 for the Summit
of Amazon countries and is expected to advance his broad
political and commercial objectives with Brazil.

9. (C) Leveraging his personal rapport with Lula to advance
the bilateral relationship, Sarkozy depicted the union as "a
balanced partnership with two legs, one civilian and the
other military. The military has progressed faster but the
civilian will eventually win out." The two leaders have
already signed off on the $12 billion purchase of five
submarines, four conventional and Latin America's first
nuclear-propelled submarine, to be built in a new shipyard at
Itaguai, as well as 50 military transport helicopters that
will be assembled in Minas Gerais. (Comment: The
conventional submarines incorporate U.S.-origin GE Marine
engines.) At the same time, Brazil announced its intention
to begin negotiations to purchase the 36 Rafale fighter jets
which could increase the financial transaction to $20
billion if the deal officially goes through. The French have
from the start guaranteed to give the Brazilians Rafale
software source codes that represent the very digital heart
of the aircraft, a step we understand the others bidders were
reluctant at first to take. After Lula complained to Sarkozy
about the "absurd price" of the Rafales at $80 million each,
MFA sources state that the French president sent him a
personal letter stressing French willingness to participate
in the "unrestricted transfer" of technological intelligence"
that the Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim had made
known was a prerequisite for major arms deals in April.
Labeled the "French comparative advantage," the technology
transfer appealed to Brazil's desire to not only purchase the
Rafale but to manufacture the aircraft in-country and
possibly sell them throughout Latin America by 2030, stated
the Brazilian pol-mil attache Marcus Rector Toledo Silva in
Paris to poloff on September 11.

10. (C) According to Brazilian pol-mil attache Silva, the
fighter jet saga was spurred by the release of the Brazilian
National Defense Strategy in December 2008. He noted that
the Brazilian Air Force has 110 jets dating from the 1970s
and 1980s that are too old and outdated for a country whose
needs include patrolling 5 million square miles of territory,
10.5 million miles of national border, and vast offshore oil
platforms. Brazil's most modern aircraft are 12 French
Mirage 2000s, purchased second-hand and approaching their
retirement dates. By contrast, neighbors Chile and Venezuela
have 29 F-16s and 24 Sukhoi 30s respectively, both
representing the most advanced models available. With Hugo
Chavez recently buying over $3 billion in aircraft, tanks,
and assault weapons from Russia, Brazil also seeks to enhance
its regional military capabilities. Thus the deal brokered
by Sarkozy was key for Dassault, bilateral defense ties, and
boosting civilian sector trade over the long term. In the
middle of all the media uproar however, two Rafale jets fell
into the Mediterranean, provoking much discussion in the
French and Brazilian press about the fact that the jets had
never been sold outside of France. The crash also raised
questions about why the Rafale's trade deal during the
Moroccan fighter competition in 2008 fell through.

--------------------------------------------- ----------------
11. (C) As Lula has repeatedly stated, Brazil has ambitions
of becoming a world power in the coming decades and believes
the key is through the acquisition of certain technological
and military autonomy. MFA contacts claim that unlike the
U.S. relationship, France is ready to address Brazil's trade
and technological development needs. Consequently, the
recently signed bilateral agreements symbolize more than the
purchase of armaments, commented Brazilian poloff de Lacerdo
Carrilho. Rather, he stated that they denote the creation of
the largest military industrial complex in the southern
hemisphere for the emerging industrial superpower, home to
the seventh largest oil reserves in the world and the largest
area of natural biodiversity in the Amazon. In the last two
years, Brazil has announced the discovery of huge offshore
oil reserves called Pre-salt in ultra-deep waters in the
Atlantic that could finance its rise to first world status,
according to Lula. The country also has vast natural
resources in timber, gold, and uranium in the Amazon,
allegedly being exploited illegally by groups said to include
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Brazil
seeks to protect its riches and assert itself as a new
military power and France is "ready to fully support Brazil
as an emerging power," said MFA Assistant Secretary for the
Americas Beton-Delegue to poloffs on October 7.

12. (C) Under Sarkozy, France has become a consistent
champion of all Brazilian aspirations, backing efforts for
Brazil's ascent to a permanent seat on the UNSC, a
long-standing Brazilian ambition. France also voted for and
strongly supported Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Olympics
in early September and was one of the first countries to
congratulate Brazil on its victory. MFA Brazil desk officer
told poloff that as usual, Sarkozy had the foresight to
develop good relations with Brazil, which is set to showcase
two of the world's greatest sporting events with the 2014
World Cup final scheduled to be played in Rio. Embassy
Brazil contacts in Paris believe that the Franco-Brazilian
relationship is only getting started and envision an
expansion of the civilian cooperation to possibly include
industrial contracts for aerospace and transportation in the
upcoming months, once the Rafale deal is concluded. Hinting
at rumors that Brazil could buy as many as 100 French-made
fighter jets, Brazilian poloff de Lacerdo Carrilho suggested
that there is much more to come of the bilateral
relationship, whether the F-X2 deal goes through or not.

13. (C) COMMENT: The deepening partnership with Brasilia
provides France with greater entre into Latin America. A
strategically symbiotic relationship, French interest in
Brazil seems to benefit both countries. Lula's decision to
back the purchase of French fighter jets indicates the
deepening Franco-Brazilian relationship and demonstrates the
increasing political, diplomatic, and specifically commercial
success of Sarkozy's courtship. Sarkozy is expected to shift
into diplomatic overdrive in 2011 to boost his 2012
re-election campaign and can point to his foreign policy
triumph with Brazil as an indication of his prowess. As the
Brazilians continue to hold bidders in suspense over their
fleet renovation project due to be finalized by the end of
the year, look for Sarkozy to reappear in the southern
hemisphere with his familiar calling card of military and
civilian contracts. Post welcomes Embassy Brasilia's
perspectives on this Paris-based assessment of the growing
Franco-Brazilian relationship.


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