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Viewing cable 07DUBLIN916, TOUR D'HORIZON WITH IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07DUBLIN916 2007-12-20 15:03 2010-11-30 16:04 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Dublin
VZCZCXRO6799
RR RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHDL #0916/01 3541546
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 201546Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8798
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DUBLIN 000916 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/19/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ECIN PBTS EAIR ECON PKFK EUN
TT, EI 
SUBJECT: TOUR D'HORIZON WITH IRISH FOREIGN MINISTER 

REF: A. DUBLIN 900 

B. DUBLIN 899 
C. DUBLIN 888 NOTAL 
D. DUBLIN 851 
E. DUBLIN 849 

Classified By: Ambassador Thomas C. Foley; Reasons 1.4 
(B) and (D). 

Summary 
------- 

1. (C) Ambassador Foley met with Irish Foreign Minister 
Dermot Ahern on December 19 to discuss a wide range of 
issues. In recent days, Ahern has tamped down the public 
reaction to a report of the Irish Human Rights Commission 
(IHRC) on extraordinary renditions. Ahern indicated that the 
3500-strong EU peacekeeping force for Eastern Chad, led by 
Irish Lt. General Pat Nash and including 450 Irish troops, 
will be deployed in January or February 2008. He stated that 
Ireland, the Framework Nation in Kosovo, intends to remain in 
Kosovo on the basis of the pre-December 10 mandate and plans 
to contribute to the planned EU ESDP police mission there. 
Ahern revealed that the Department of Foreign Affairs 
Conflict Resolution Unit will tackle East Timor as its first 
venture into international conflict resolution intervention. 
Regarding the EU Reform Treaty, Ahern predicted that there 
will be a tough battle to get out sufficient "yes" votes. He 
predicted that the recently proposed DHS full pre-clearance 
agreement with Ireland will be substantially altered by the 
Irish Attorney General. The Ambassador thanked Ahern for 
accepting ten Cuban refugees currently encamped at 
Guantanamo. Ahern advised the Ambassador that the Department 
should liaise with Ambassador Michael Collins in planning the 
2008 St. Patrick's Day bilateral. He once again raised the 
Irish Government's concern about the status of Irish illegal 
aliens in the U.S. Ahern's warm, open welcome of the 
Ambassador is a measure of the importance the Irish attach to 
the bilateral relationship with the U.S. End summary. 

Extraordinary Renditions 
------------------------ 

2. (C) Ambassador Foley thanked Ahern for his staunch 
rejection of the Irish Human Rights Commission's (IHRC) 
demand that the Irish Government inspect aircraft landing in 
Ireland that are alleged to have been involved in so-called 
extraordinary rendition flights (Ref B). Ahern declared that 
the IHRC report contained no new information, but warned that 
opposition parties Fine Gael and Labour could be expected to 
continue to raise the issue from time to time in efforts to 
politically embarrass the Fianna Fail-run Government. Ahern 
said that several alleged rendition flights had been 
inspected during the past year and fully cleared; the last 
flight, he wryly noted, was carrying six touring golfers. 
Ahern said that a public response by the Embassy would not be 
useful, but suggested that the Ambassador personally engage 
Fine Gael leadership to explain the U.S. position. 

3. (C) Ahern noted that he had "put his neck on the chopping 
block" and would pay a severe political price if it ever 
turned out that rendition flights had entered Ireland or if 
one was discovered in the future. He stated that he "could 
use a little more information" about the flights, musing that 
it might not be a bad idea to allow the random inspection of 
a few planes to proceed, which would provide cover if a 
rendition flight ever surfaced. He seemed quite convinced 
that at least three flights involving renditions had refueled 
at Shannon Airport before or after conducting renditions 
elsewhere. 

4. (C) Comment: While Ahern's public stance on 
extraordinary renditions is rock-solid, his musings during 
the meeting seemed less assured. This was the only issue 
during the meeting that agitated him; he spent considerable 
time dwelling on it. Ahern seemed to be fishing for renewed 
assurances from the Ambassador that no rendition flights have 
transited Ireland, or would transit in the future. 
Highlighting the recent attention drawn to renditions by the 
IHRC report, later the same day the Parliamentary Foreign 
Affairs Committee held a hearing on the matter. The hearing, 
attended by POLOFFs, generally confirmed the Government's 
view that there is no evidence that rendition flights have 
transited Ireland. The hearing, which was barely reported by 
the press, failed to achieve any traction for critics of 
American policy. End comment. 

Chad/Darfur 
----------- 

5. (C) In November, Ahern visited Chad in preparation for 

DUBLIN 00000916 002 OF 003 


the deployment of a 3500-strong EU peacekeeping force, led by 
Irish Lt. General Pat Nash and including 450 Irish troops. 
Ahern, who also visited Darfur in 2006, indicated that the 
situation in Eastern Chad is not as dire as Darfur, but that 
conditions are deteriorating. He said that the Government of 
Chad, unlike the Government of Sudan, is reasonably positive 
about the intervention of the EU force. He stated that force 
equipment requirements, which have somewhat delayed the 
mission, have been sorted out and that force deployment would 
begin in January or February 2008. 

6. (C) In an aside on Sudan, Ahern expressed despondency 
about progress in Darfur, saying that he didn't believe the 
leaders of Sudan, including President al-Bashir, were serious 
about resolving the Darfur situation. He labeled al-Bashir 
and Sudanese Foreign Minister Ismail as untrustworthy, saying 
they had both lied to him. He described Khartoum as booming 
and al-Bashir as scoffing at Western sanctions. "The Chinese 
are everywhere in Khartoum," he said. 

Kosovo 
------ 

7. (C) Ahern said that Ireland intends to remain in Kosovo 
under the pre-December 10 mandate. (Note: Ireland is the 
Framework Nation in Kosovo, responsible for commanding, 
controlling, and directing operations of the multilateral 
peacekeeping force (KFOR) operating there. End note.) 
Ireland also intends to contribute to the EU ESDP police 
force recently authorized for Kosovo, according to Ahern. 
While Ireland is worried about the repercussions of a 
unilateral declaration of independence in Kosovo, Ahern 
indicated that he sees independence there as inevitable. If 
the EU decides to recognize an independent Kosovo, he said, 
Ireland will go along (Ref D). 

8. (C) In a separate discussion on December 20 with Jim 
Kelly, Director, Europe Division, Department of Foreign 
Affairs, Kelly told POLOFF that assessments of the legality 
of continuing the pre-December 10 mandate had been positive. 
He indicated that the door was now open for UN Secretary 
General Ban to signal a green light for the ESDP policing 
mission. Kelly commented on meetings that Minister of 
Foreign Affairs Ahern and he had held about November 9 in 
Kosovo and Serbia with Kosovar Prime Minister-elect Hashim 
Thaci and Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. Kelly 
characterized both leaders as wary of precipitous action. In 
spite of Thaci's public rhetoric, Kelly noted that Thaci was 
privately talking about "managed" independence rather than a 
"unilateral declaration" of independence. Similarly, Kelly 
said that Kostunica indicated he was not willing to use 
military force to retain Kosovo, though Kostunica said he 
would utilize any measure short of military action, including 
an economic blockade. 

Conflict Resolution Unit (CRU) 
------------------------------ 

9. (C) Ahern revealed that the Government has decided to 
focus the efforts of the newly formed CRU, which is housed in 
the Department of Foreign Affairs, on East Timor. He 
indicated that the Government of East Timor is favorably 
disposed to the intervention, in part because of good 
relations built up with Timorese Government officials during 
Irish troop engagements in the past. Ahern reiterated that 
he would welcome collaborative Irish/U.S. conflict resolution 
initiatives there. (Comment: Ahern will lead a team to Dili 
in February or March 2008. Embassy Dublin will liaise with 
Embassy Dili to arrange meetings for Ahern with Ambassador 
Klemm and other U.S. officials. End comment.) 

Reform Treaty Referendum 
------------------------ 

10. (C) Emphasizing that the Government of Ireland is 
calling the EU treaty the "Reform" Treaty rather than the 
"Lisbon" Treaty, Ahern indicated that the constitutionally 
mandated referendum would likely be held during the first 
half of 2008 and would be linked with a referendum on a 
constitutional amendment on children's rights (Ref E). He 
predicted a hard battle, which, he said, would be joined by 
treaty opponents from across Europe. He said that in spite 
of the fact that the Irish people are generally supportive of 
the EU and the Reform Treaty, getting out the "yes" vote 
might be a problem. 

Pre-Clearance Agreement 
----------------------- 

11. (C) Ahern indicated that he had reviewed the draft DHS 
agreement to establish a full U.S. pre-clearance facility in 

DUBLIN 00000916 003 OF 003 


Ireland (Ref C). He was generally supportive of the proposed 
agreement, calling it "significant and practical." 
Nonetheless, he was skeptical of certain provisions, e.g., 
that Ireland would be responsible for any radioactive waste 
discovered, and predicted that the draft agreement would be 
much altered after the Irish Attorney General reviewed the 
document. 

Cuban Refugees 
-------------- 

12. (C) Ambassador Foley thanked Ahern for the Irish 
Government's willingness to accept ten Cuban refugees 
currently encamped at Guantanamo. (Note: A team from the 
Irish Ministry of Justice visited Guantanamo the week of 
December 10 and identified the refugees who will be settled 
in Ireland. End note.) Ahern's view of the post-Castro 
future of Cuba was uncertain; he indicated that Ireland would 
be guided by the EU on future relations with the Cuban 
Government. 

St. Patrick's Day Bilateral 
--------------------------- 

13. (U) Ahern advised the Ambassador that he and the 
Department should liaise with Ambassador Michael Collins in 
Washington in planning the 2008 St. Patrick's Day bilateral. 
While Ahern agreed that, in light of the progress in Northern 
Ireland, the format of the bilateral could be somewhat 
revised (such as the stations of the cross), he noted that 
the shamrock ceremony, which has a long tradition, should not 
be altered. 

Undocumented Irish 
------------------ 

14. (C) Ahern once again raised the Irish Government's 
concern about the status of Irish illegal aliens in the U.S. 
(Ref A). He said that political opponents are accusing the 
Government of ignoring the problem, when, in fact, there is 
nothing the Government can do influence U.S. immigration 
policy. He asked the Ambassador to meet separately with 
opposition leaders to explain the U.S. Government's position. 

Comment 
------- 

15. (C) Ahern genuinely welcomed the Ambassador. He 
appeared engaged, warm, and open, acting as if he had all the 
time in the world. Such demeanor is a measure of the 
importance the Irish attach to the bilateral relationship 
with the U.S. 
FOLEY