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Viewing cable 07PARIS3956, KOUCHNER EXPECTED TO MEET IRANIAN COUNTERPART AT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07PARIS3956 2007-09-21 09:09 2010-11-29 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
VZCZCXRO4039
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #3956/01 2640945
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 210945Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0328
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 003956 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/20/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PARM FR IR
SUBJECT: KOUCHNER EXPECTED TO MEET IRANIAN COUNTERPART AT 
UNGA BUT NOT SARKOZY 
 
REF: A. (A) PARIS POINTS 20 SEPTEMBER 2007 
 
     B. (B) PARIS 3668 
 
Classified By: Acting Political Minister-Counselor Andrew Young for rea 
sons 1.4. (b), (d). 
 
1.  (C)  During a September 19 call on French MFA 
DAS-equivalent for the Levant Ludovic Pouille, we asked 
whether he had heard anything that might indicate FM Kouchner 
or any other French officials planned to meet with Iranian 
President Ahmadi Nejad in New York.  Pouille shook his head 
no on Ahmadi Nejad, but he stated that Kouchner is scheduled 
to meet with his Iranian counterpart on the margins of the 
UNGA. 
 
2.  (C)  Although Pouille does not cover Iran, he stated that 
posts throughout the NEA region had reported queries from 
host governments about France,s policy in light of FM 
Kouchner,s recent remarks about the possibility the 
confrontation over Iran,s nuclear program could lead to war. 
 This had necessitated the drafting of &talking points8 to 
be sent out worldwide to refocus attention on what Kouchner 
said about the need to pursue diplomacy to the maximum extent 
possible.  Pouille (strictly protect) opined that Kouchner 
had not for the first time allowed his tongue to get ahead of 
his brain in terms of his public utterances.  He has 
struggled since to get the emphasis back on diplomatic 
efforts to resolve the nuclear issue and to minimize the 
importance of his reference to the possibility of war. 
 
3.  (C)  We spoke September 20 to French MFA Iran desk 
officer Arnaud Pescheux, who confirmed his understanding that 
Kouchner was currently the most senior French official 
expected to meet with the Iranians in New York, and then only 
the foreign minister.  He related that the Iranian mission in 
New York had passed a formal written request to the French 
mission for an Ahmadi Nejad/Sarkozy meeting.  The GOF had 
ignored the request in the same manner it ignored Ahmadi 
Nejad,s congratulatory message to Sarkozy after his election 
as president.  Nonetheless, and as Kouchner has publicly 
stated, Pescheux underscored that France continues to have a 
normal relationship with Iran across the board, covering a 
host of bilateral and regional issues (notably Lebanon). 
This includes frequent visits to Paris by Iranian officials. 
Tension over the nuclear issue has not changed this, even 
though it has obviously complicated the bilateral dialogue 
somewhat.  In this respect, Pescheux stated that the French 
embassy in Tehran has received numerous complaints about 
recent public French statements despite the fact that few of 
them have been replayed fully via the Iranian media to the 
public at large.  (Comment:  This echoes what MFA 
DAS-equivalent for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf Franck Gellet and 
others have told us per ref b.  End comment) 
 
4.  (C)  With respect to the new channel Velayati has tried 
to open via Gellet and Presidency strategic affairs adviser 
Francois Richier (also ref b), Pescheux said that it was not 
closed off, just inactive until such time as France might 
decide to make use of it.  He repeated that the GOF is fully 
aware that Tehran is trying to divide the P-5 1 by opening 
such a channel.  As for the idea, bruited by Pouille, that 
French special envoy for Lebanon Jean-Claude Cousseran might 
travel to Tehran with a larger mandate than the situation in 
Lebanon, Pescheux said that was under discussion.  Nothing 
had been decided, either in terms of dispatching Cousseran on 
such a mission or possible timing, although it was unlikely 
to happen prior to the end of the ministerial portion of the 
current UNGA.  Pescheux reiterated the often expressed view 
at the Quai that, unlike Syria, Iran is not presently 
inclined to stir things up in Lebanon.  He explained that for 
Iran, the consequences of a renewed civil war that could 
inter alia pit Sunnis against Shi,a would set Iranian 
efforts to expand its regional influence back. 
 
5.  (C)  Comment:  As ref a demonstrates, Kouchner is not 
only trying to recast his earlier remarks in a way that 
downplays references to the possibility of war with Iran but 
to underscore his readiness to engage with Iran including via 
a trip to Tehran.  We are not aware of any plans for Kouchner 
to travel there, however, and he was very careful when he 
responded to a reporter,s question on this that he kept it 
limited to whether in principle he was prepared to go. 
Despite the rhetoric and the furor surrounding Kouchner,s 
remarks, the French have not closed any doors to continued 
engagement.  We think it unlikely, given the charged 
atmosphere and the French determination to keep Ahmadi Nejad 
at arms length, that President Sarkozy will meet formally 
with him on the margins of UNGA, although we would not rule 
out the possibility of an impromptu pull-aside should the two 
find themselves at a group event organized by the UN. 
Sarkozy was unwavering in a national television interview 
 
PARIS 00003956  002 OF 002 
 
 
September 21 that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear 
weapons. 
 
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm 
 
 
Pekala