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Viewing cable 10PARIS174, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE GATES'S MEETING WITH FRENCH FOREIGN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
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