Viewing cable 07PARIS3668, FRENCH MFA READOUT ON AUGUST 23 TEHRAN VISIT BY
Every cable message consists of three parts:
- The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
- The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
- The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #07PARIS3668.
|07PARIS3668||2007-09-05 12:12||2010-11-29 12:12||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Paris|
VZCZCXRO8568 OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK DE RUEHFR #3668/01 2481250 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 051250Z SEP 07 FM AMEMBASSY PARIS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9883 INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 003668 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/05/2017 TAGS: PREL PGOV FR IR SUBJECT: FRENCH MFA READOUT ON AUGUST 23 TEHRAN VISIT BY ELYSEE ADVISER RICHIER AND MFA DAS GELLET REF: PARIS 3645 (NOTAL) Classified By: Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Josiah Rosen blatt for reasons 1.4. (b) and (d). ¶1. (C) Summary: The GOF took a hard line during an August 23 trip to Tehran by French presidency strategic affairs adviser Richier and French MFA DAS-equivalent Gellet that Iranian leader Khamanei's foreign policy adviser Velayati hoped would open a new channel to Paris. Gellet explained August 31 that Velayati was apparently operating from a flawed premise that Nicolas Sarkozy would free France from its "dependence" on the USG. Velayati further believed France could be broken away from the P-5 over further sanctions against Iran. Gellet said Richier previewed for Velayati the line Sarkozy would use in a subsequent speech to French ambassadors that the world faced a "catastrophic" choice between Iran with a bomb or bombing Iran. Although Velayati's hopes were shattered, Iran is still interested in the channel; Gellet said that Richier has the lead in deciding what the GOF will do next. Gellet expressed a strong French desire to remain informed on U.S. plans regarding Iran particularly should we decide to take military action against Iran. End summary ¶2. (C) French MFA DAS-equivalent for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf Franck Gellet on August 31 provided a readout on his August 23 visit to Tehran accompanying the French presidency's strategic affairs adviser Francois Richier. The visit followed an invitation from Ali Akbar Velayati, former Iranian foreign minister and current foreign affairs adviser to Supreme Leader Khamanei. Gellet confirmed information that the French Embassy in Washington communicated to the Department that Velayati wanted to establish a new direct channel to Paris. Gellet elaborated that Velayati's (apparently convoluted) thinking had been expressed in an article he had written that took the view that the election of Nicolas Sarkozy gave France a chance to break free of its "dependence" on the U.S. in terms of its foreign policy. Velayati, according to Gellet, believed that Chirac had been entirely beholden to the U.S. during his presidency. Sarkozy's election, therefore, offered Iran a chance to appeal to France in a way that would allow France to follow its independent line a la de Gaulle and thus pry France loose from the coalition that now sought to impose tougher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. ¶3. (C) Despite this clearly flawed analysis of France's position and political dynamics, the GOF decided this opening was important enough to explore. Gellet recounted how he and Richier met Velayati, heard him out, and proceeded to burst his bubble. Richier, according to Gellet, told Velayati that Sarkozy was firm on the nuclear issue and previewed for him the line that Sarkozy would use in his August 29 speech to French ambassadors that under current circumstances the world faced the stark alternative that Iran would obtain "the bomb" or be bombed. Velayati was not happy to hear this but did not close the door to further discussion. Gellet surmised that Velayati believes the French are still susceptible to Iranian blandishments and wants to keep some sort of alternative line open to the Elysee. ¶4. (C) Gellet stressed that Velayati's initiative was not taken without reference to others in the Iranian government. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araghchi sat in on the Velayati meeting just as Velayati attended a meeting Gellet and Richier had with Araghchi. Gellet did not indicate what other subjects came up, but Velayati's pitch was the main one. When asked whether France felt the visit had been worthwhile and what sort of follow-up there might be, Gellet was vague. He said that Richier, in his Elyse capacity, would decide what to do, including whether to keep this dialogue going. Gellet surmised that Richier would be willing to discuss this further with USG officials, like PM A/S Rood, in future meetings to discuss next steps in the nuclear fuel dispute. ¶5. (C) Gellet found the visit a bit surreal but quite indicative of the bizarre way Iran functions. He noted the diffusion of power among different entities and the uncertainty that pervades Iranian decision making. Velayati clearly sought to minimize or counterbalance President Ahmadinejad's hard line but without actually taking a softer line himself. Iran's core position, therefore, did not seem to be shifting or subject to any flexibility. When asked how France understood Sarkozy's either/or statement on Iran had played in that country, Gellet replied that Iranian authorities seem to have largely kept it out of the national media. The implication that France sees Iran facing a serious risk of military retaliation over its stance was thus largely unreported. Gellet argued that this suits Velayati's calculations because the impression remains that Iran can PARIS 00003668 002 OF 002 somehow turn to France to blunt American pressure to impose more sanctions and escalate the situation. ¶6. (C) On the issue of escalation, Gellet asked that the USG keep France informed of its thinking as regards possible military action against Iran. He claimed that the Elysee worries about being blindsided if or when the time comes for a strike. The timing and magnitude of such action, i.e., a surgical strike or a more generalized campaign, could have enormous stakes in terms of French interests. Gellet noted, in this vein, French concerns about Iranian retaliation against the Gulf States and their capacity to respond. He surmised that a U.S./France dialogue, if it were to develop, might occur at a much higher level than his. His hope, which was personal as much as he said it reflected official thinking, was that we would keep the French in the loop as we moved into the next phase of high-tension diplomacy focused on further UNSC sanctions. ¶7. (C) Comment: It appears that this latest Iranian initiative to open a new channel to Paris is unlikely to change the dynamics of Tehran's ongoing confrontation with the world. The French seem keen to reassure us that they are not wavering. President Sarkozy's tough words to the French Ambassadors conference following the meetings in Tehran made that point loud and clear. On whether to engage more intensively with the French about the various contingencies related to Iran, we believe we should continue to test Sarkozy's apparent desire to deal with us differently than his predecessors did. As an indication of different French thinking, the newspaper "Le Monde" reported active discussion in the Elysee of sanctions targeting Iran outside the UNSC that France could impose alone or potentially with others in the EU. The article made clear that, as "fissures" seem to be appearing among the P-5 over Iran, France seems to be toughening its position. We will follow up with Richier for his take on this visit. Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm STAPLETON