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Viewing cable 01PARIS11204, FRENCH VIEWS OF AFGHANISTAN'S POLITICAL FUTURE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
01PARIS11204 2001-10-16 05:05 2011-01-21 16:04 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
O 160512Z OCT 01
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9246
INFO ALL EUROPEAN UNION POST COLLECTIVE
AMEMBASSY ALMATY 
AMEMBASSY ANKARA 
AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 
AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMEMBASSY BERLIN 
AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 
AMEMBASSY DOHA 
AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE SUSTEL
AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 
AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 
AMEMBASSY RIYADH 
AMEMBASSY ROME 
AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 
AMEMBASSY TOKYO 
USEU BRUSSELS
USMISSION USNATO 
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 011204 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2011 
TAGS: AF FR PK PREL
SUBJECT: FRENCH VIEWS OF AFGHANISTAN'S POLITICAL FUTURE 

REF: STATE 176819 

CLASSIFIED BY: CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL MINISTER COUNSELOR SHARON WIENER 
FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D). 

1. (C) WE DELIVERED REFTEL POINTS TO FOREIGN MINISTER 
VEDRINE'S OFFICE AND TO MFA AFGHAN DESK OFFICER BRUCE BOURDON 
ON OCTOBER 11 AND FOLLOWED-UP WITH A MEETING WITH BOURDON ON 
OCTOBER 12. BOURDON TOLD US THAT THE FRENCH WERE ENGAGED IN 
DISCUSSIONS WITH THEIR EU PARTNERS REGARDING AFGHANISTAN'S 
POLITICAL FUTURE. HE NOTED THESE DISCUSSIONS HAD BEEN 
STIMULATED IN PART BY FOREIGN MINISTER HUBERT VEDRINE'S 
ACTION PLAN FOR AFGHANISTAN. HOWEVER, HE ADDED THAT THE 
FRENCH HAVE NOT YET RECEIVED ANY SPECIFIC COMMENTS, 
DOCUMENTS, OR PROPOSALS ABOUT WHERE TO GO NEXT IN AFGHANISTAN 
FROM THEIR EU PARTNERS. BOURDON SAID THIS LACK OF RESPONSE 
WAS PROBABLY DUE TO SEVERAL FACTORS: INSUFFICIENT TIME TO 
RESPOND, UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE DIRECTION THE WAR IN 
AFGHANISTAN WOULD TAKE, AND, THE CURRENT HEAVY TRAVEL 
SCHEDULE OF SENIOR MFA OFFICIALS. BOURDON NOTED VEDRINE WAS 
VISITING ROME WHERE HE WILL BE MEETING WITH FORMER KING 
MOHAMMED ZAHIR SHAH, WHILE THE MFA'S DIRECTOR FOR ASIA, 
DOMINIQUE GIRARD, IS VISITING WASHINGTON. TONGUE IN CHEEK, 
BOURDON COMMENTED THAT GIVEN GIRARD'S VISIT TO WASHINGTON, IT 
WAS LIKELY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT WOULD KNOW MORE ABOUT FRANCE'S 
POSITION ON AFGHANISTAN THAN HE WOULD. BOURDON, HOWEVER, 
MADE CLEAR THAT IN TRYING TO DEVELOP A POSITION ON 
AFGHANISTAN'S POLITICAL FUTURE, FRANCE WAS PAYING PARTICULAR 
ATTENTION TO THE OPINIONS OF THE GERMANS, BRITISH, AND 
ITALIANS. THE FRENCH WILL LISTEN POLITELY TO OTHER EU 
MEMBERS, BUT IT IS THOSE THREE COUNTRIES WHO ARE MOST 
INVOLVED IN THE CRISIS AND CONTRIBUTING THE MOST FINANCIALLY. 

2. (C) BOURDON SAID HE DID NOT EXPECT ANYONE TO BE ABLE TO 
DEVELOP A COHERENT POSITION UNTIL THE COURSE OF THE WAR IN 
AFGHANISTAN BECAME A BIT CLEARER. HE EXPLAINED THAT THE 
FRENCH WERE WATCHING DEVELOPMENTS CLOSELY TO SEE WHETHER THE 
TALIBAN COLLAPSED OR IF THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO HANG ON TO 
POWER FOR SOME TIME. WHILE THE FRENCH HOPE FOR A QUICK 
COLLAPSE AND A RAPID CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES, THERE IS SOME 
CONCERN THAT IN A WORST CASE, THE CONFLICT COULD DRAG ON 
THROUGH THE END OF THIS YEAR AND WELL INTO 2002. BOURDON 
NOTED THE FRENCH WERE ALSO KEEPING AN EYE ON PAKISTANI 
BEHAVIOR TOWARDS AFGHANISTAN AND THE TALIBAN. HE EXPLAINED 
THAT THE FRENCH WERE UNCERTAIN WHETHER THE GOVERNMENT OF 
PAKISTAN WOULD ALLOW THE TALIBAN TO CRUMBLE, OR WHETHER THE 
GOP, OR A ROGUE ELEMENT OF THE GOP, WOULD FIND SOME MEANS TO 
PROVIDE COVERT SUPPORT TO THE TALIBAN. UNSURE ABOUT WHAT 
COMES NEXT, THE FRENCH NEVERTHELESS BELIEVE THE GOP NEEDS TO 
BE INVOLVED IN DECISIONS RELATING TO AFGHANISTAN'S FUTURE AND 
THAT IT IS CRUCIAL TO FIND AFGHAN PASHTUNS WHO CAN PLAY A 
PROMINENT ROLE. 

3. (C) BOURDON SAID THE FRENCH BELIEVED FORMER KING 
MOHAMMED ZAHIR SHAH WILL ONLY BE ABLE TO PLAY A VERY LIMITED 
ROLE. HE MAY BE ABLE TO PROVIDE THE IMPETUS TO START A 
DIALOGUE, LOYA JIRGA, BUT HE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DO THINGS 
HIMSELF. THE FRENCH ALSO BELIEVE WE, WESTERN COUNTRIES, 
SHOULD BE CAREFUL TO NOT TRY TO IMPOSE ANY DECISIONS FROM THE 
OUTSIDE. THERE MIGHT BE A SMALL SUPERVISORY ROLE FOR THE 
UNITED NATIONS, BUT THERE SHOULD NOT BE ANY EFFORT TO DEPLOY 
A LARGER-SCALE UN MISSION A LA KOSOVO OR EAST TIMOR. A LARGE 
UN MISSION SIMPLY WOULD NOT WORK AND IT WOULD QUICKLY BECOME 
IMPOSSIBLE TO PROVIDE ANY KIND OF SECURITY FOR A LARGE UN 
MISSION. THE FRENCH SEE THE UN'S ROLE AS MINIMAL, SIMPLY 
BEING A PRESENCE TO URGE FOLLOW-UP TO DECISIONS MADE BY 
AFGHANS. 

4. (C) WHEN ASKED ABOUT VEDRINE'S OCTOBER 10 MEETING WITH 
LAKHDAR BRAHIMI, BOURDON (PLEASE PROTECT) REPLIED THAT 
VEDRINE WAS UP TO HIS USUAL TRICKS. HE EXPLAINED THE 
VEDRINE-BRAHIMI MEETING HAD BEEN A TETE-A-TETE AND VEDRINE 
DID NOT BOTHER TO BRIEF ANYONE IN THE MFA ABOUT THEIR 
CONVERSATION. BOURDON SAID THE ONLY THING HE KNEW CAME FROM 
ONE OF VEDRINE'S PROTOCOL OFFICERS WHO ESCORTED BRAHIMI TO 
THE MEETING. THE PROTOCOL OFFICER SAID BRAHIMI EXPRESSED THE 
VIEW THAT PAKISTAN WOULD NEED TO PLAY A ROLE IN REACHING AN 
AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE AND ZAHIR SHAH'S 
SUPPORTERS. BRAHIMI ALSO EXPRESSED CONCERNS ABOUT SECURITY 
FOR THE PERSONNEL OF UN AGENCIES AND NGOS AFTER THE U.S. 
DOES ITS JOB. BRAHIMI SAID HE SAW NO WAY TO PREVENT 
INSTABILITY AND HAD NO SUGGESTIONS REGARDING HOW TO CHANGE 
THIS. A MEMBER OF FM VEDRINE'S STAFF ADDED THAT BRAHIMI TOLD 
VEDRINE THAT HE WAS APPROCHING HIS NEW RESPONSIBILITIES WITH 
NO PRECONCEPTIONS. 


LEACH