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WikiLeaks: 2007-05-04: 07VATICAN84: Holy See: NEA A/S Welch April 24 Meeting with Foreign Minister Mamberti

by WikiLeaks. 07VATICAN84: May 04, 2007.

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 04:53 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07VATICAN84 2007-05-04 08:10 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
DE RUEHROV #0084/01 1240810
O P 040810Z MAY 07
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 000084 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  4/24/2017 
REF: Vatican 0074 
VATICAN 00000084  001.2 OF 002 
CLASSIFIED BY: Christopher Sandrolini, Charge d'affaires a.i., 
EXEC, State. 
REASON: 1.4 (d) 
1. (C) Summary. NEA A/S Welch met Holy See FM Mamberti April 24. 
 Welch urged Mamberti to consider sending a papal envoy to 
Lebanon and to press Patriarch Sfeir to be as active as 
possible.  Welch expressed concern about the situation in 
Palestinian areas, the unhelpful role of Syria, and recent 
bombings in Algeria.  He also raised the Pope's recent remarks 
about Iraq, which -- in focusing only on the negative -- did not 
reflect the positive developments in that country.  Mamberti 
parried on Lebanon, complained about Israeli foot-dragging in 
talks on the bilateral Fundamental Agreement, and seemed 
regretful but not convinced with regard to Iraq.  A/S Welch's 
visit was helpful in reaching out to Mamberti, who has kept a 
low profile to date, and USG would benefit from following up on 
Mamberti's willingness to continue the dialogue.  End summary. 
2. (SBU) NEA Assistant Secretary David Welch, accompanied by 
Charge d'affaires, called April 24 on Archbishop Dominique 
Mamberti, the Holy See's Secretary for Relations with States 
(i.e., foreign minister). Deputy Legal Advisor Jonathan Schwartz 
also attended; Mamberti was accompanied by Monsignor Franco 
Coppola, the Office Director for Middle East affairs. 
3. (C) Welch noted that Patriarch Sfeir would be in Rome this 
week, and commented on potential outcomes to the current 
confused situation in Lebanon.  The worst such outcome, though 
unlikely, would be an extension of President Lahoud's term.  In 
order to ensure the best possible result, Welch said the Holy 
See should press Sfeir to be as active as possible in uniting 
the Christian community in the right way.  The Patriarch must be 
careful, but his influence over the entire country is 
significant.  Lebanon is at a crossroads, trying to overcome 
Syria's remaining influence and to firm up its democracy.  A 
good, pro-reform Maronite president is essential.  Welch added 
that the USG does not seek to choose the president, but rather 
urges that a good candidate be found. 
4. (C) Mamberti stressed that the Holy See has been and remains 
very interested in Lebanon, noting that Pope Benedict XVI has 
often addressed the situation there.  The Holy See is very 
concerned about the Christian population.  It is not easy to 
know what to do under the circumstances, with the community so 
divided.  Rome has considered seriously the idea of sending an 
envoy, but it remains unclear whether this is the right choice 
at this time.  Mamberti said the solution must come from the 
Lebanese themselves.  He agreed that the President must be a 
leader with recognized credibility within his own community in 
order to be effective more broadly. 
5. (C) Welch pressed again on the question of an envoy, saying 
that regional and international support for Lebanon is crucial; 
the country has suffered a loss of confidence and fears its 
neighbors.  Let us not leave them alone, he urged.  Sfeir will 
certainly play a political role, in his own way; he too needs to 
feel protected.  The USG is not anti-Syria, rather we are 
pro-Lebanon.  Mamberti promised to talk to Sfeir during his stay 
in Rome. 
6. (C) Welch expressed concern about the internal situation of 
the Palestinians, with signs of anti-American and anti-Christian 
feeling becoming evident -- suggestive of a breakdown in order. 
The authorities do not have control.  The USG is working hard 
and will continue to do so; Olmert and Abbas have improved their 
relationship.  The Palestinians need support, but Israel too 
must feel a part of the region.  Welch praised the recent Saudi 
initiative as a result of growing international desire to reduce 
conflict in the Middle East and build towards a solution. 
7. (C) Mamberti acknowledged the importance of US leadership in 
this area, and asked about Syria.  Welch described strained US 
diplomatic relations with Syria, and the disappointment of 
President Bush at Syria's failure to respond appropriately to 
changes in the region.  Syria continues to facilitate entry of 
insurgents into Iraq and Damascus is the only Arab capital with 
a declared, open relationship with terrorists -- elsewhere 
public opinion has moved Arab countries away from terrorism. 
Mamberti agreed that this was 'strange'. 
8. (C) Mamberti asked about recent bombings in Algeria.  Welch 
described them as very disturbing, observing that the US is 
actually Algeria's largest trading partner.  He decried the 
prevalence of jihadi influence, which in some ways resembled the 
environment in Iraq.  Algerian authorities are not in control. 
VATICAN 00000084  002.2 OF 002 
9. (C) Asked about the Holy See's relations with Israel, 
Mamberti promptly launched a discussion of the 1993 Fundamental 
Agreement, ratified but never enacted by Israel.  He complained 
that there had been little or no progress in the ensuing 
fourteen years, right up to the most recent development at the 
end of March -- i.e., the last-minute postponement by Israel of 
a major negotiating meeting.  (Mamberti said this meeting may be 
rescheduled for May 21.)  Mamberti also commented on the recent 
'Shoah' incident in which the Papal Nuncio initially declined to 
attend a Yad Vashem commemoration because of an inappropriate 
display on Pope Pius XII.  Mamberti said he didn't want to imply 
that bilateral relations with Israel were lacking, citing for 
example the very active Israeli ambassador to the Holy See, but 
'we'd like more progress'. 
10. (C) Referring to the Pope's Easter message (in which he said 
"nothing good is coming out of Iraq") Mamberti pointed out that 
the Pope's statement made no reference to the United States. 
Somewhat ill at ease, he also downplayed the importance of "just 
a few words on Iraq" in a much longer document.  He went on to 
bring up the issue of the Chaldean seminary (reftel) occupied by 
US forces in Iraq, closure of other religious facilities, and 
the attempt to build a wall between communities in Iraq -- a 
"negation of the idea of coexistence".  Mamberti said the Holy 
See felt sadness about developments in Iraq.  Welch noted that 
the Pope's remarks, coming at about the same time as Saudi 
criticism of the US role in Iraq, had received considerable 
political play in the US.  He assured Mamberti that the 
situation of the Chaldean seminary was being resolved, and that 
the US forces would depart. 
11. (C) Although Mamberti did not commit to sending an envoy to 
Lebanon, this meeting was important in bringing together a 
senior USG official with Mamberti, who -- still fairly new and 
tentative in his position -- has kept a low profile since taking 
office last fall.  It was helpful to ask about Israel, and 
anything further we can do to encourage the Israelis to move 
ahead on the Fundamental Agreement will be extremely welcome to 
the Holy See.  On Iraq, Mamberti's discomfort suggests he wishes 
the Pope's statement had been more carefully phrased; but while 
he regretted the media reaction, he gave no sign that the Holy 
See's thinking on Iraq would change soon.  Mamberti's mention of 
the Chaldean seminary marks the first time the Holy See has 
raised the issue with us, and suggests that the matter may weigh 
on his mind.  At the close of the meeting, Mamberti agreed with 
Welch that it would be good to remain in touch; we should take 
advantage of this opening. 
12. (U) A/S Welch did not clear this cable. 


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