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Viewing cable 08PARIS988, FRANCE/LEBANON: FRENCH PRESIDENCY POSITIVE BUT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08PARIS988 2008-05-23 13:01 2011-02-25 00:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
Appears in these articles:
http://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/250211/boris-boillon-selon-les-cables-wikileaks-vantard-et-pas-toujours-compet
VZCZCXRO2010
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #0988/01 1441337
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231337Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3125
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES  PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0094
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3870
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000988 

SIPDIS 

NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/GAVITO/YERGER/ZARATE 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER KDEM KPAL FR LE SY IS
SUBJECT: FRANCE/LEBANON: FRENCH PRESIDENCY POSITIVE BUT 
NOT NAIVE ABOUT DOHA ACCORD, WANTS ONGOING U.S./FRENCH 
CONSULTATION ON IMPLEMENTATION 

PARIS 00000988 001.2 OF 002 


Classified By: Acting Political Minister Counselor Andrew Young for rea 
sons 1.4. (b), (d). 

1. (C) French Presidency NEA adviser Boris Boillon told us 
May 22 that the GOF regarded the recently Doha accord on 
Lebanon as mostly favorable to the March 8 opposition but not 
entirely so. Most important, he stressed, the agreement 
stopped the fighting and got the political process for 
addressing Lebanese political differences back on track. 
Hizballah and Syria may have "won" overall, but they fell 
short of achieving their maximal goals. Boillon agreed with 
those analysts who inter alia believe that recent events have 
largely sealed the fate of Michel Aoun, who will rapidly 
become irrelevant in the Christian community once Sleiman is 
elected. The important thing now, he argued, was to do 
everything to ensure the accord was properly applied, 
Lebanese state institutions were further strengthened, and 
the U.S. and France remain united as they deal with the 
follow-on. Boillon cautioned against describing the outcome 
of the Doha talks in terms of winners and losers, maintaining 
instead the need to keep the focus on strengthening Lebanese 
state institutions and not appearing to favor any side. 

2. (C) With respect to the preserving U.S./French unity, 
Boillon referred to a phone call the previous evening between 
French Presidency diplomatic adviser Levitte and NSA Hadley. 
He observed that Levitte sought to emphasize the positive 
points in the accord and project "enthusiasm" in its 
implementation, contrasted with what he claimed were concerns 
on Hadley's part that the opposition had obtained too much 
and that the agreement constituted a "loss" or setback for 
March 14 and western interests in Lebanon. Despite its 
outward public enthusiasm, Boillon confided that the GOF has 
no illusions about the situation. The factions may have 
ceased fire but the danger remains because of the 
irresponsibility of Lebanon's political leaders. This was 
most evident with respect to the March 8 side, taking its 
orders from Damascus and Tehran, but also applied to March 
14. As the GOF's public statements have emphasized, there is 
currently no choice but to give wholehearted endorsement to 
the Doha accord and the Arab League-led process to achieve a 
durable resolution of outstanding political disagreements. 
Boillon praised the Qataris for having pulled off something 
more cynical observers in the GOF did not think they were 
capable of accomplishing. 

3. (C) French FM Kouchner will fly to Beirut to be there 
for the presidential election May 25. Boillon explained that 
French President Sarkozy had considered going but changed his 
mind in part because the date would coincide with "Liberation 
Day" (i.e., the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from 
southern Lebanon in 200). Sarkozy had absolutely no 
intention of being in Beirut the same day Hizballah SecGen 
Nasrallah gave a triumphal speech. (NB: This was before 
word filtered out that Hizballah had decided to postpone its 
"festivities" until May 26.) With a sneer, Boillon accused 
Lebanese parliament of having chosen this date 
"intentionally." He confirmed, however, that Sarkozy intends 
to visit Beirut to congratulate Sleiman after his election. 
(Comment: Boillon was ambiguous as to timing, but Sarkozy's 
schedule and things Boillon said later suggested it would not 
occur before late next week. End comment) Sarkozy would not 
have a detailed message for Sleiman, but, when pressed, 
Boillon said Sarkozy would do more than shake hands and smile 
for the camera. He imagined Sarkozy would point out that the 
world had high expectations in terms of Sleiman's commitment 
to implementing the Doha accord and safeguarding the 
integrity of the Lebanese state. 

4. (C) In terms of next diplomatic steps, Boillon affirmed 
French skepticism about the utility of seeking significant 
UNSC action on Lebanon at the moment. He agreed with our 
view that the formation of a new Lebanese government will 
take some time. Given the fragile state of things, he 
contended it would be inadvisable to push measures through 
the UNSC that would allow March 8 to ratchet up tension anew 
with the risk of renewed violence. Boillon also reasserted 
the now-standard French line about the UNSC suffering from 
"Lebanon fatigue." He thus added his voice to the French 
chorus of those who doubt we could get the nine votes needed 
to pass a UNSCR calling for significant action, and he 
dismissed out of hand passing anything beyond a general 
statement of support for the Doha accord at this time. Any 

PARIS 00000988 002.2 OF 002 


explicit link between implementing the Doha accord and 
previously adopted UNSCRs dealing with Hizballah's weapons 
would be tricky in New York and potentially dangerous in 
Beirut. Boillon saw no prospect for a UNSCR in the 
foreseeable future -- i.e., not before formation of a new 
government and possibly passage of a new election law) that 
would address any of the key ) and delicate -- issues. 

5. (C) We flagged for Boillon the possibility that 
Washington may once again ask EU member states to designate 
Hizballah a terrorist organization in light of the events of 
recent weeks. He reiterated what we have consistently heard 
from MFA DAS-equivalent for the Levant Ludovic Pouille, 
namely that designating Hizballah was completely out of the 
question for France. Boillon rehashed a number of familiar 
French arguments for not designating Hizballah, most notably 
to allow the GOF to maintain contact with a political 
movement that, despite its terrorist aspect (which Boillon 
noted the GOF has cited on numerous occasions, including by 
Sarkozy and Kouchner), represents at least 20 percent of the 
Lebanese population and is the principal Shi'a 
representative. He contrasted the GOF position towards 
Hizballah and Hamas. The latter, according to Boillon, had 
not formed as a political movement but had taken on political 
aspects as it evolved from being a group dedicated to 
violence and terrorism during the Intifada. Hamas' charter, 
moreover, was less political and more focused on carrying out 
violence as well as the elimination of Israel. Returning to 
his concern about timing any potentially tough action during 
this delicate period, Boillon offered the view that U.S. 
encouragement to designate Hizballah now would be poorly 
received within the EU as well as in Lebanon. (Comment: We 
did not have time to argue with many of the historical and 
logical fallacies in Boillon's argument, some of which may 
stem from his ignorance of Hizballah's and Hamas' histories. 
In any case, his bottom line on French opposition to any 
attempt to secure an EU designation of Hizballah as a 
terrorist organization is pretty clear cut. End comment) 

6. (C) Boillon expressed eagerness to continue the ongoing 
U.S./French dialogue on the way forward in Lebanon. He 
agrees that a meeting between senior level USG and GOF 
officials in Paris or Washington as soon as possible would 
help clear the air in terms of our differing perceptions of 
the various components necessary for preserving a stable, 
independent, and free Lebanon. 

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm 

STAPLETON 

VZCZCXRO2010
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #0988/01 1441337
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231337Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3125
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0094
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 3870