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Viewing cable 10ROME173, SECDEF MEETING WITH ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10ROME173 2010-02-12 13:01 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Rome
VZCZCXRO2504
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKUK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHRO #0173/01 0431318
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 121318Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0581
RUEHMIL/AMCONSUL MILAN PRIORITY 0479
RUEHFL/AMCONSUL FLORENCE PRIORITY 4036
RUEHNP/AMCONSUL NAPLES PRIORITY 4264
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3270
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3078
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1068
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ROME 000173 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
SECDEF FOR USDP, ISA, ISA/EURNATO 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/11/2020 
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS NATO IT AF IR
SUBJECT: SECDEF MEETING WITH ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER 
FRANCO FRATTINI, FEBRUARY 8, 2010 
 
ROME 00000173  001.2 OF 003 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Alexander Vershbow for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D 
) 
 
1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (SecDef) 
met with Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Franco Frattini 
during an official visit to Rome on February 8.  On 
Afghanistan, Frattini was eager to move beyond the London 
Conference and work to produce practical results for the 
Afghan people.  He proposed better civil-military 
coordination at senior levels in NATO, and raised the 
prospect of coordination on local projects across the 
Afghanistan-Iran border.  SecDef thanked Frattini for Italy's 
pledge of more troops for operations in Afghanistan and 
explained where gaps in civil-military cooperation existed. 
Frattini believed the international community was lining up 
against Iran, and encouraged better coordination with 
countries outside the P5-plus-1.  SecDef warned that a 
nuclear Iran would lead to greater proliferation in the 
Middle East, war, or both.  SecDef agreed with Frattini that 
a United Nations conference highlighting security challenges 
in the Horn of Africa was a good idea.  END SUMMARY. 
 
------------ 
Afghanistan 
------------ 
 
2. (S/NF) Frattini opened by telling SecDef that the U.S. can 
count on Italy's full support on Afghanistan, Iran and 
fighting terror.  He had recently talked with General Jones 
and Secretary Clinton and relayed the same message.  He 
expressed a desire to focus on the comprehensive approach in 
such a way to improve the daily lives of Afghans.  He 
asserted a need to press President Karzai on delivering 
improved governance or risk losing support for the mission in 
coalition Parliaments.  Frattini wanted to get beyond "just 
talking" -- referencing the London conference -- and noted 
concrete Italian projects to convert poppy cultivation to 
olive oil production and to create a national high school for 
public administration. 
 
3. (S/NF) SecDef commended Rome's efforts to increase Italian 
contributions, asking whether even more Carabinieri might be 
available for training the Afghan security forces.  He 
observed that General McChrystal's emphasis on protecting 
Afghan civilians has changed attitudes among Allied publics. 
SecDef said he is pushing the comprehensive approach, noting 
a need for all stakeholders in Afghanistan to share 
information effectively.  He said he hoped that NATO's new 
Senior Civilian Representative, Ambassador Mark Sedwill, 
could facilitate this.  SecDef recommended a focus on better 
governance below the level of the national government -- 
which would take decades to turn into a modern government ) 
taking advantage of traditional institutions and competent 
governors at the regional and sub-regional levels and 
leveraging them into local success stories.  At the national 
level, however, our priority should be to develop those 
ministries most critical to our success, such as Defense, 
Interior, Finance, Agriculture, and Health.  Noting Gen. 
McChrystal's recent statement that the situation in 
Afghanistan is no longer deteriorating, SecDef said that much 
of the challenge is psychological -- convincing Afghans that 
we can win and that we will not abandon them. 
 
4.  (S/NF) Frattini agreed that civilian-military integration 
is the weakest part of the Afghan strategy.  He expressed 
frustration that NATO foreign ministers only discuss issues 
like agriculture and education while defense ministers only 
discuss security.  The problem, Frattini suggested, is that 
they don't talk to each other.  He proposed a joint meeting 
of foreign and defense ministers, beginning with talks at the 
expert level.  SecDef responded that Gen. McChrystal and 
Ambassador Eikenberry do civilian-military collaboration at 
the national level on the basis of a Joint Campaign Plan, as 
do local ground commanders with leaders of PRTs.  What is 
missing is the level in between -- the regional commands -- 
and SecDef expressed a desire for Sedwill to appoint 
subordinates to address this in each RC, building on the 
 
ROME 00000173  002.2 OF 003 
 
 
example of the civ-mil cell in RC-South.  The effect would be 
cascading civil-military coordination at the national, 
regional, and local levels.  SecDef noted that similar 
efforts by UNSRSG Kai Eide had been hamstrung by resourcing 
and the UN's aversion to working with the military.  As a 
NATO representative, Sedwill should not have these problems. 
 
5. (S/NF) Frattini also asked about practical cooperation 
across the Afghan-Iranian border.  Local incentives for 
cooperation might undermine weapons and drug trafficking and 
help co-opt reconcilable Taliban.  SecDef noted that Iran is 
playing both sides of the street -- trying to be friendly 
with the Afghanistan government while trying to undermine 
ISAF efforts.  He noted that intelligence indicated there was 
little lethal material crossing the Afghanistan-Iran border. 
SecDef suggested that trade route protection from Afghanistan 
into Eastern Iran, which is important for local economies on 
both sides of the border, might be a place to start.  SecDef 
noted that any effort will need to be coordinated with Kabul. 
 Frattini agreed this would be a good starting point. 
 
---- 
Iran 
---- 
 
6. (S/NF) Frattini supported recent public statements by 
SecDef raising the pressure on Iran.  He declared that 
Ahmadinejad cannot be trusted, especially after contradicting 
recent constructive statements by his own government. 
Frattini, citing a recent conversation with Russian Foreign 
Minister Lavrov, said he believed Russia would support the 
sanctions track.  The challenge was to bring China on board; 
China and India, in Frattini's view, were critical to the 
adoption of measures that would affect the government without 
hurting Iranian civil society.  He also specifically proposed 
including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Brazil, Venezuela and Egypt 
in the conversation.  He expressed particular frustration 
with Ankara's "double game" of outreach to both Europe and 
Iran.  Frattini proposed an informal meeting of Middle East 
countries, who were keen to be consulted on Iran, and noted 
that Secretary Clinton was in agreement. 
 
7. (S/NF) SecDef emphasized that a UNSC resolution was 
important because it would give the European Union and 
nations a legal platform on which to impose even harsher 
sanctions against Iran.  SecDef pointedly warned that urgent 
action is required.  Without progress in the next few months, 
we risk nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, war 
prompted by an Israeli strike, or both.  SecDef predicted "a 
different world" in 4-5 years if Iran developed nuclear 
weapons.  SecDef stated that he recently delivered the same 
warning to PM Erdogan, and he agreed with Frattini's 
assessment on Saudi Arabia and China, noting that Saudi 
Arabia is more important to both Beijing and Moscow than 
Iran. 
 
8.  (S/NF) SecDef urged Frattini to reconsider a planned 
visit to Italy by a prominent Iranian Parliamentarian in the 
wake of recent executions of students in opposition to the 
government. At the same time, we needed to ensure we did not 
discredit the opposition by creating the impression that they 
are the tools of foreign partners. 
 
-------------- 
Horn of Africa 
-------------- 
 
9. (C) Frattini expressed concern about deteriorating 
conditions in Somalia and Yemen.  He noted a recent 
conversation with President Sharif of Somalia's Transitional 
Federal Government (TFG), in which Sharif said that he would 
be unable to pay his security forces by the end of February. 
Frattini said that Italy was encouraging the EU Presidency to 
focus on Somalia and Yemen, and had proposed a United Nations 
conference addressing Horn of Africa security issues.  Italy 
was providing funding to the TFG's national budget. SecDef 
concurred that the region deserved more focus. 
 
ROME 00000173  003.2 OF 003 
 
 
 
10. (U)  SecDef has cleared this cable.  Drafted by OSD staff. 
DIBBLE