Cablegate: Divergences with France On Upcoming Political

DE RUEHFR #1767/01 3651233
P 311233Z DEC 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 PARIS 001767



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2019

Classified By: Ambassador Charles Rivkin, for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C/NF) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Our current relationship
with France is so profoundly healthy that conventional wisdom
now asserts that there are no significant differences in the
foreign policies of our two countries. While it is true that
the relationship is at a historical peak, it is not the case
that our objectives and approaches are identical on all major
issues. Upcoming events in 2010 will bring to the forefront
some foreign-policy divergences in our relationship with
France -- primarily in our approaches to multilateral issues
like arms control, European security, and the Middle East.
These differences will present challenges, and they risk
causing last-minute ripples in our bilateral relationship if
not addressed early in our planning. Some issues are being
driven by outside deadlines, such as the upcoming May 2010
NPT RevCon, the global nuclear security summit, and the
Lisbon NATO summit next fall. Afghanistan, which is
addressed in other reporting, may also fall into this
category, since a French decision on further contributions
will be contingent in part on the outcome of the January
conference in London. Other divergences come from tactical
differences towards shared objectives (in particular the
French President's predilection for proposing high-level
summits on everything from Middle East peace to European
security). The most difficult to manage will be those issues
that Paris believes could potentially impact core French
values, such as their policy of nuclear deterrence. In such
cases, the French will show the least flexibility. END

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2. (C/NF) BACKGROUND: The U.S. and France are in substantial
agreement on our goals for the May 2010 Non-Proliferation
Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon). However, these issues
will also present some of our biggest challenges. France can
act -- and has -- as a "force multiplier" for the United
States with more passive European partners on
non-proliferation issues from Iran to supporting UN
counter-proliferation capacity-building efforts. However,
the approach of the NPT RevCon poses a concrete deadline for
the United States and France to address our ongoing
differences on nuclear disarmament. France argues that a
U.S. focus on disarmament at the RevCon would open the door
for non-aligned nations to make the conference a referendum
on actual disarmament progress by the P3. These nations
would thus make signing on to further concrete
non-proliferation commitments contingent upon further
disarmament by the United States, or more worrying from
Paris' perspective, comparable disarmament or transparency
efforts by France. As France has already made significant
disarmament efforts and has a markedly smaller nuclear
arsenal than the United States, French officials tell us
additional cuts would negatively impact France's nuclear
deterrent capabilities. Therefore, France wants to focus as
much as possible on non-proliferation at the NPT RevCon and,
ideally, avoid any significant discussion of disarmament.

-POTENTIAL FOR FRENCH FLEXIBILITY: Low on policy, but medium
on tactics. The GOF position on disarmament reflects France's
national obsession with its nuclear deterrent. French
officials do not hesitate to describe their commitment to
maintaining their independent deterrent as "psychological."
This applies not only to the capability itself, but to the
concept of a deterrent. The French frequently express their
concern that U.S. calls for a "world free of nuclear weapons"
serve to delegitimize nuclear weapons as an element of
strategy. However, the French understand the United States
is also committed to maintaining a nuclear deterrent force
for as long as necessary. While the French can probably
adjust to our differences on ultimate disarmament objectives,
they are more worried by the arguments we might make to
achieve our shared non-proliferation goals at the RevCon.
French officials have explicitly threatened to "stonewall" or
"put (the United States) on the spot" if they feel their
disarmament red-lines are jeopardized by U.S. statements.

-WAY FORWARD: To maximize cooperation and minimize the risk
of French obstructionism in P5 negotiations or at the RevCon
itself, it may be worth again making clear our "rhetorical
red-lines" as well as our policy red-lines. If it is vital
to our RevCon strategy to highlight our objective of a "world
free of nuclear weapons," to stress the link between P5

PARIS 00001767 002 OF 004

disarmament and stricter non-proliferation measures under the
NPT, or to call on other nuclear weapons states to make
further disarmament efforts, we should make this very clear
in advance to the French. The French will not like it, but
advance notice may at least prevent a last minute
overreaction that could threaten P3 unity on our shared goals
for the RevCon.

-DEADLINE: Soon. The RevCon is scheduled for May 2010.
Reaching a modus vivendi with France on disarmament tactics
at the RevCon is critical to ensure the success of ongoing P5
consultations and outreach to Non-Aligned Movement nations.

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3. (C/NF) BACKGROUND: France, including President Sarkozy
himself, wants to be a serious player in Middle East peace,
and French officials are continually frustrated by a
perceived lack of progress on an issue that impacts French
national interests and world standing. Sarkozy's keen
interest is also evident in his re-balancing of France's role
by building close ties to Israel and in his attempts to
marginalize entrenched Middle East experts (in the MFA and
elsewhere) who do not respond to his calls for new, active
policy directions. Sarkozy is prepared to support U.S.
efforts, but he has latched onto the idea of a Middle East
summit as a way of jump-starting the process. To add
legitimacy to his initiative, he tried to partner with Egypt,
as co-president of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), but
he is not wedded to any particular format. For example,
French MFA contacts are starting to float ideas of a smaller
summit, headed by the quartet or other grouping, to achieve
the same result, and France has reportedly squared this
initiative with Russian desires, sanctioned by the UN
Security Council, to host a conference.

Since U.S. participation in any summit would be a basic
requirement, France has little room for maneuver without the
USG's blessing. However, given Sarkozy's personal interest,
continued U.S. reluctance may become a growing irritant to
the GOF.

-WAY FORWARD: Our current strategy for responding to French
inquiries is to note the conditions-based requirement for a
successful dialogue. If the USG does not believe the timing
is currently right for a summit meeting, we may find it
helpful to provide a more definitive frame of reference to
our French interlocutors as to the potential timeline or
specific conditions-based requirements for a summit. As long
as Sarkozy remains hopeful that a summit could be possible,
anything less specific is unlikely to dampen his enthusiasm
or efforts and contribute to raised expectations that could
harm our effort.

-DEADLINE: Ongoing. Sarkozy will continue to seek
opportunities to present his ideas to us and to others,
particularly in the context of other international
summit-level meetings.

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4. (C/NF) BACKGROUND: France has been pushing for a
high-level discussion on European security ever since
President Sarkozy surprised allies in October 2008 by
publicly proposing a summit to address the Medvedev proposal
for a new treaty covering European security architecture.
The French goal is two-fold: to engage Russia and to break
the logjam on intractable issues like the Conventional Forces
in Europe (CFE) treaty. While we succeeded this June in
anchoring this discussion in the OSCE Corfu Process, divisive
Russian tactics and high-level French impatience are likely
to keep this issue simmering in the foreseeable future. The
impetus in Paris comes from the highest level; it is
President Sarkozy himself who believes that any non-response
by the allies to Russian proposals leaves the ball in our
court. French officials admit they were "surprised" by the
draft text that Russia is now circulating, but continue to
stress that a response by allies is required. Further,
Sarkozy is reportedly very impatient with the slow Corfu
process and is already tasking his staff to come up with
alternate proposals to make progress -- including following

PARIS 00001767 003 OF 004

up on his original idea for an OSCE summit in 2010. GOF
officials fear that without a concrete deadline/goal, the
Corfu process will simply lose momentum and we will have a
"lost year" in 2010. All indications are that there is
nothing Sarkozy abhors more than what he perceives to be a
vacuum. On CFE, French officials are becoming increasingly
vocal that we need to re-engage on next steps once START
negotiations are complete and have evidenced a willingness to
de-link CFE from Russia's fulfillment of its Istanbul
commitments. Further, MFA Strategic Affairs Director Patrick
Maisonnave recently said that Paris supports including the
human dimension in our broader security discussions, but that
it should not be used to halt progress entirely. "Human
rights is not at the heart of the question of security,"
Maisonnave stated. Post understands from Presidency contacts
that Paris is preparing a non-paper to argue once again that
the deadline of a summit will add the necessary stimulus for
progress on issues from CFE to Nagorno-Karabakh.

allied opposition to French support for a summit may not make
the idea go away, but could encourage the French to morph
their plans for engagement into something more acceptable.

-WAY FORWARD: To maximize the chances for constructive
cooperation, post recommends beginning a regular dialogue
with the French on these over-arching issues of European
security, using the "2 plus 2" political-military discussions
currently scheduled for January 20 in Washington as a good
step. German influence and actions can also play a big role
in channeling French activity, so additional follow-up in a
Quad format may be worth considering. Finally, we may want
to think about taking a page from the French handbook and
suggest an alternative proposal that may include a deadline
for progress -- this could be a lower-level conference,
formation of a working group, or other event. This could
give Paris the target it claims is currently lacking, channel
some of the French energy and allow us to selectively move
forward on the issues that we deem sufficiently ripe, without
forcing a broader preliminary discussion at the highest

-DEADLINE: Ongoing. We can expect this to be a continuing
discussion in 2010 given the enduring interest by the French
President, even if few allies are on board.

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5. (C/NF) BACKGROUND: Thus far, France has taken pains to
be supportive of U.S. missile defense efforts in Europe,
including agreeing to positive language for the declaration
at the 2009 NATO summit in Strasbourg and in the communique
issued at the December NATO ministerial meeting. However,
French officials have warned us that the "devil is in the
details," and we will be hard-pressed to get agreement at the
2010 NATO summit in Lisbon in the absence of a clearer idea
of what the U.S. is proposing, and more specifically, what we
expect NATO common funding to pay. Maisonnave has noted to
us that it is still unclear how our "Phased Adaptive
Approach" (PAA) will interact with NATO's Active Layered
Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) and what
modifications and concomitant costs may be required. Even
more fundamental to French interests is the impact of missile
defense on France's nuclear deterrent capability. The impact
of MD on the French deterrent could be simple cause and
effect -- if other countries develop more strategic missiles
due to NATO implementation of a MD system it could call into
question French deterrent capabilities. However, potential
MD disagreements can also run deeper, such as when France
recently balked at calling missile defense a "mission of
NATO" in the December ministerial communique, which to French
ears called into question the core purpose of NATO and had
potential implications on French deterrence policy. French
officials concede that MD could complement their deterrent,
but emphasize that it can never become a substitute for this
core element of French defense.

blunt in stating that French reluctance is tied to financing
rather than political will, and in an era of financial
constraints and growing public deficits, the financial
question is not a negligible one. However, France is fully
prepared to work with us on missile defense as long as we are
cognizant of their nuclear deterrence red-lines and consult

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fully on costs and technical parameters of our proposed

-WAY FORWARD: The sooner we are able to share more concrete
information with the French and our other NATO partners, the
more time we will have to make our case for why territorial
missile defense is essential to NATO and how we can make PAA
work with ALTBMD to implement it. The French hope that early
in the new year we will be able to provide more technical
information about what the United States envisions so that
discussions can begin in earnest about what Allies will be
expected to pay for or to contribute.

-DEADLINE: The first half of 2010. The more we can do to
provide early and concrete information, the less likely we
are to have any disagreements in the run up to the Lisbon
NATO summit in November 2010.

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