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TFLE01: FRENCH FM RETURNS FROM MIDDLE EAST: LOOKS TO ROME



id: 72389
date: 7/24/2006 18:20
refid: 06PARIS5014
origin: Embassy Paris
classification: SECRET
destination: 06PARIS4982|06PARIS5014
header:
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OO RUEHAG
DE RUEHFR #5014/01 2051820
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 241820Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9758
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN IMMEDIATE 0846
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT IMMEDIATE 0413
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO IMMEDIATE 0848
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS IMMEDIATE 0267
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV IMMEDIATE 0533
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM IMMEDIATE 0238
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0827
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO IMMEDIATE 3549
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE 1696

----------------- header ends ----------------

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 005014

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/24/2016
TAGS: PREL, AEMR, MARR, CASC, LE, KHLS, FR
SUBJECT: TFLE01: FRENCH FM RETURNS FROM MIDDLE EAST: LOOKS
TO ROME

REF: PARIS 04982

Classified By: POLITICAL MINISTER COUNSELOR JOSIAH ROSENBLATT FOR REASO
NS 1.4 B/D

1. (S) SUMMARY: Political Minister Counselor met on July 24
with FM Douste-Blazy's Middle East Cabinet Advisor,
Christophe Guilhou. Guilhou had returned earlier in the
morning with the FM after visiting Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan,
and Israel. Discussions with leaders in the region, Guilhou
said, had focused on the need for an immediate cease-fire,
the possibilities for a political process, economic issues
(primarily aid and reconstruction efforts), and the
conditions for an international force presence. Egypt and
Jordan, he said, shared many of France's concerns, while
Israel's political goals, and not the toll on the Lebanese
people, and economy, were foremost on PM Olmert's mind.
Guilhou articulated France's approach going to Rome,
particularly on the need for an immediate cease-fire and a
political process in place prior to the deployment of an
international force, whatever its composition. France could
not support deployment of an international force absent a
political agreement, one which enjoyed (at least tacit)
support of Hezbollah. END SUMMARY

2. (S) Political Minister Counselor met on July 24 with FM
Douste-Blazy's Middle East Cabinet Advisor, Christophe
Guilhou. Guilhou had returned earlier in the morning with
the FM after visiting Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and
Israel. He noted that the FM had received the invitation to
Wednesday's Core Group Ministerial from the Secretary (via
the MFA) on Friday during a meeting with PM Siniora. As a
result, he said, Douste-Blazy had turned the focus of his
discussions towards economic issues (aid and reconstruction)
while trying to get a better understanding from regional
players of the political realities.

3. (S) According to Guilhou, Douste-Blazy met first with PM
Siniora. Siniora expressed his support for full
implementation of UNSCR 1559, reiterated the need to disarm
Hezbollah, changing the status quo ante, including to address
Shebaa Farms. Siniora remained very concerned about the
mounting toll from Israeli attacks, and reviewed Lebanese
humanitarian needs.

4. (S) Guilhou reported that Douste-Blazy's meetings with
Jordanian and Egyptian officials produced general agreement
that the current situation was threatening to completely
destabilize Lebanon's government and would not have the
effect of leading to the disarmament of Hezbollah. Quite the
contrary, they said, and the French agreed, the more damage
to civilian targets and to general infrastructure, the more
the Lebanese people would support Hezbollah's targeting of
Israel. An immediate cease-fire was the first priority,
which would open the way to an enforceable, longer-term
political agreement. Guilhou said the Egyptians and the
Jordanians both agreed that a return to the pre July 12
status quo ante was not acceptable. They both remained
supportive of disarming Hezbollah- but Israel's continued
devastation of Lebanon would not bring us to such a
conclusion.

5. (S) Guilhou explained that Israeli PM Olmert was extremely
gracious and treated the French with a great deal of respect
and warmth. That said, Olmert's position was rather
divergent from their own. Olmert had not expressed regret
for Israel's actions, nor compassion for the Lebanese people.
Olmert's attitude was that Israel was defending itself; the
damage it was inflicting on Lebanon did not enter the
equation. Israel had expressed openness to the idea of an
international force, noting possible participants such as
NATO, the EU, and Arab states. Douste-Blazy, in response,
stressed the need for a political solution before any force
could be deployed.

6. (S) Looking towards Rome, Guilhou said that France would
continue its call for an immediate cease-fire. The GoF (and
public opinion) felt strongly that Israel was not only
creating a humanitarian disaster, but crippling the Lebanese
government, and creating additional support for Hezbollah.

PARIS 00005014 002 OF 002

France would argue for a political solution that included
agreement by Hezbollah to demilitarize. An international
force could not be sent in to finish what Israel had started,
and end up getting caught in the crossfire. Guilhou did not
directly address the composition of such a force, emphasizing
instead that agreement on its mandate was the most pressing
issue. The GoF hoped that the Rome meeting would address
Lebanon's humanitarian needs and identify elements for a
durable peace. That said, the GoF did not expect a dramatic
announcement outlining a final settlement.

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm

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