Viewing cable 10PARIS174, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE GATES'S MEETING WITH FRENCH FOREIGN
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|10PARIS174||2010-02-12 16:04||2010-11-29 12:12||SECRET//NOFORN||Embassy Paris|
VZCZCXRO2856 RR RUEHSL DE RUEHFR #0174/01 0431656 ZNY SSSSS ZZH R 121656Z FEB 10 FM AMEMBASSY PARIS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8309 INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//USDP/ISA/ISA-EURNATO// RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0959 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 6561 RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2179 RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3941 RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1787 RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 000174 NOFORN SIPDIS E.O 12958: DECL: 02/08/20 TAGS: PREL MOPS MARR FR IR AF NATO SUBJECT: SECRETARY OF DEFENSE GATES'S MEETING WITH FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER KOUCHNER, FEBRUARY 8, 2010 Classified By: Alexander Vershbow, ASD/ISA. Reasons 1.4 (b/d). ¶1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: At the request of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (SecDef) met with French FM Bernard Kouchner in Paris on February 8, 2010. Discussions included how to persuade the Chinese and others to support sanctions against Iran, and the importance of targeting the Iranian government rather than the people. On Afghanistan, Kouchner confirmed that France would maintain its position that it could not add additional combat troops for the time being but was open to the possibility of sending additional trainers. Both Kouchner and SecDef lauded recent progress in Pakistan. Discussing NATO, Kouchner argued for a stronger European pillar, which SecDef supported with the caution that pursuit of an independent European security role risked reducing the already limited capabilities available to the Alliance. SecDef also raised the need for reform and for examination of future NATO missions, which he would define narrowly rather than broadly. END SUMMARY ---- Iran ---- ¶2. (S/NF) Kouchner said that the U.S. and France were working well together in New York on an Iran sanctions resolution - all the problems now are with the Chinese. Kouchner had met Chinese FM Yang twice the previous week, but said that right now it was difficult to predict whether the Chinese would veto or abstain. He noted that the Chinese were furious over the U.S.-Taiwan arms deal, which would make it difficult to get a resolution passed in February. ¶3. (S/NF) SecDef observed that Russia usually followed China's lead on North Korea, whereas China usually followed Russia on Iran. Therefore we should try to get the Russians to persuade the Chinese to support the Iran sanctions resolution. MFA political director Jacques Audibert remarked that the Russians had been helpful during the last P5-plus-one teleconference, but he worried that the Russians would water down the content of the resolution. Kouchner said that President Medvedev seemed strongly on board, and there was daylight between his position and that of Foreign Minister Lavrov. SecDef said he suspected that China ultimately would not want to be isolated and would abstain. ¶4. (S/NF) SecDef urged Kouchner not to exaggerate the Chinese concern over Taiwan - they would need a little more time and, in the end, an abstention might be a good enough result for us. He added that we should urge the Saudis to weigh in with Beijing since China has more at stake in its relations with Saudi Arabia than Iran. He commented that the Saudis always want to "fight the Iranians to the last American," but that now it is time for them to get into the game. ¶5. (S/NF) Raising his concerns about bringing non-permanent UNSC members on board, SecDef reported that in Ankara he had impressed upon PM Erdogan the dangers of proliferation to other Middle East countries or an Israeli strike if the Iranian nuclear program couldn't be stopped. Kouchner expressed his doubts about Turkey's desire for a constructive role in region, describing Erdogan's comments to Ahmadinejad defending the Iranian nuclear program as dangerous. ¶6. (S/NF) Kouchner then asked SecDef for his perspectives on the popular protests in Iran. In the French view, the internal developments were very important - the most significant change in decades. He urged careful thought about how to avoid discouraging the protesters with sanctions, bearing in mind that the protesters did not support Tehran's ambitions for nuclear weapons. He further emphasized his belief that human rights issues should receive attention as well. ¶7. (S/NF) SecDef said that Kouchner's argument underscored the need to focus sanctions on the IRGC and companies it owns, in order to minimize the hardship for the Iranian people. He remarked that Iranians across the political spectrum support a peaceful nuclear program, but it was not clear whether they favored acquisition of nuclear weapons. Therefore, our political strategy should reaffirm Iran's right to have a civilian nuclear program as long as it is safeguarded and in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty. ¶8. (S/NF) Further explaining the U.S. position, SecDef said that while our understanding of the Iranian leadership was opaque, we do know that they do not like to be isolated. The USG would soon be designating several IRGC companies under the Iran Sanctions Act. His own view was that it was important to get the UNSCR passed quickly, even if it were not as harsh as we might wish. Once a resolution is passed, he explained, it will offer a legal platform on which the EU and individual states can impose harsher sanctions. PARIS 00000174 002 OF 003 ¶9. (S/NF) Kouchner agreed, but added that another problem was to get the nine votes needed in the UNSC. He said that Lebanon was one of France's prime targets in this respect, but he doubted that France would be able to bring the resolution to a vote during its presidency, as February is a very short month. Gabon, which takes the chair in March, is a "good asset for France," he commented. Audibert interjected that the Russians had supported deleting some sections of the draft UNSCR, but had approved including sanctions on the IRGC. Kouchner said that France had to proceed carefully since a French woman had been taken hostage in Tehran. He disparaged FM Mottaki's duplicitous performance in Munich. ----------- Afghanistan ----------- ¶10. (S/NF) On Afghanistan, Kouchner confirmed that France would maintain its position that it could not add additional combat troops for the time being. Pledging that France would stay "until the very end," he said that the French would send 80 French trainers to Kabul on their own, but were also looking into joint training opportunities with Germany - possibly an OMLT. ¶11. (S/NF) Kouchner solicited SecDef's reaction to Karzai's idea of local non-combat zones. Gates said that he was not familiar with this proposal but was skeptical about declaring zones where the government could not use force since we could not enforce similar restraint on the Taliban. ¶12. (S/NF) The U.S., SecDef said, supports reintegration and has money in its military budget to support short-term efforts at integration similar to the Sons of Iraq initiative in Anbar province. Kouchner commented that a key was to provide higher salaries to the ANA and ANP. SecDef agreed, noting that salary increases in late 2009 had led to an increase in recruits. Kouchner said that this made sense as we were fighting misery as well as terrorism. -------- Pakistan -------- ¶13. (S/NF) Turning to Pakistan, SecDef described the dramatic changes that had taken place over the past year. It was astonishing that President Zadari had remained in power and that the Pakistanis had conducted such effective COIN operations. He noted that coordination between ISAF and Pakistan's armed forces was improving - and this was creating a more difficult situation for the Taliban along the border. The Pakistan operation in South Waziristan had flushed out Taliban and Al Qaeda elements; they were more vulnerable on the move. Moreover, Pakistan's aggressive campaign against the insurgency had won broad political support among all political parties. Operations in the West and North-West had begun to accrue respect for Pakistan Army that Musharraf had squandered. It is important for all of us to talk to the Pakistanis and provide economic assistance. SecDef commented that one can never be an optimist about Pakistan, but that the changes had been striking. Kouchner agreed with SecDef's analysis that the changes in both the political and military spheres were "nothing short of a miracle." ----- NATO ----- ¶14. (C) Kouchner then raised NATO, declaring that France was ready to play its role in defining the Alliance's future strategy. He said that General Abrial (Supreme Allied Commander - Transformation) has offered input, but emphasized that it was critical to come up with real strategy that we could explain in debates in Parliament. Kouchner stressed that we needed to clarify NATO's roles and missions, as well as its role in combating the threats of terrorism, poverty and oppression. SecDef agreed that the Strategic Concept should deal with 21st century security threats Q with an emphasis on the word "security." He said the Strategic Concept should also incorporate lessons learned from Afghanistan - particularly the need for comprehensive civil-military strategies and better partnership between NATO and the EU and UN. ¶15. (C) SecDef said that NATO reform should proceed hand-in-hand with an examination of Alliance threats and missions, either as a parallel process or as a part of the Strategic Concept itself. In this regard, the Alliance cannot afford so many headquarters and needs to take steps PARIS 00000174 003 OF 003 to reduce overhead. ¶16. (C) SecDef also stated that the Alliance should be clear as to what NATO's limits are -- for example, it does not have role in the Pacific. We should adhere to the basic principle that NATO is about the security of its member states. We all face terrorist risks, and there are many other new threats, but SecDef would be inclined to define future missions narrowly rather than broadly. ¶17. (S/NF) Kouchner highlighted piracy as an emerging issue on which the EU and NATO were working together, although the real problem was inside Somalia. As an aside, he mentioned that France was willing to support the training of additional troops for the TFG. ¶18. (C) Kouchner argued that strengthening the European pillar in NATO was necessary: the EU cannot exist without defense, the U.S. needs strong European Allies, and a strong European pillar was not in contradiction with NATO. SecDef replied that during his time as SecDef, he has felt the need for a better way for EU and NATO to work together. While NATO is primarily a security alliance, it can't do its job without a civilian component. The EU is primarily a political-economic organization, but he was willing to acknowledge that it had some security role -- such as counterpiracy or peacekeeping in Chad. SecDef said that while each organization might have its primary role and mission, they could both perform both functions. ¶19. (C) Interpreting SecDef's latter comment as prohibiting an EU security role, Kouchner dissented and said that since 500 million people live in the European Union, the EU needed to be able to adequately protect them. Gates observed that France was just one of 5 or 6 nations that spent more than 2 percent of GDP on defense, and that if the EU decided it needed an independent security role, it could reduce number of forces available to NATO and cripple the Alliance. Even now, NATO had insufficient resources. Kouchner said that we needed to share burdens among all nations, and that it was hard to make people spend more on defense in the midst of an economic crisis. ¶20. (U) This cable has been cleared by SecDef. Drafted by OSD staff. RIVKIN