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WikiLeaks: 2007-08-25: 07BAGHDAD2848: FM Kouchner's Visit to Iraq

by WikiLeaks. 07BAGHDAD2848: August 25, 2007.

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 06:03 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BAGHDAD2848 2007-08-25 17:45 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #2848/01 2371745
O 251745Z AUG 07
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002848 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2017 
Classified By: Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1. (S) Summary: On August 21, during his visit to Baghdad, FM 
Kouchner asked the Ambassador how France could be helpful on 
Iraq.  The Ambassador suggested that an active French role on 
economic development -- including bilateral and EU assistance 
-- would be helpful, as would French support for the 
neighbors' process.  Kouchner was enthusiastic and promised 
to press the UNSYG for a more active UN role, but noted that 
he had recently spoken with Stefan di Mistura and found him 
more inclined to accept the number two position in WRP than 
come to Baghdad. The French Embassy in Baghdad separately 
shared its assessment of the atmospherics during Kouchner's 
visit.  End summary. 
Kouchner: How Can We Help? 
2. (S) During his Aug. 19-21 visit to Baghdad, French FM 
Bernard Kouchner met briefly with the Ambassador on the 
margins of a lunch hosted by Vice President Abdel Mehdi. 
(Note: The French Embassy had arranged this lunch primarily 
to provide Kouchner with political cover so that he could see 
the Ambassador; the French were extremely anxious to avoid 
the appearance of a bilateral Franco-American meeting.) 
Kouchner asked what France could do to be helpful on Iraq. 
The Ambassador briefed Kouchner on UNSYG Ban Ki Moon's plans 
to co-host with Iraqi PM Maliki a ministerial meeting of the 
International Compact for Iraq on the margins of the UNGA in 
September.  The Ambassador said that an active role by France 
in supporting economic development/reform in Iraq -- 
including through bilateral assistance commitments and by 
lobbying for similar EU commitments -- would be helpful. 
Kouchner was enthusiastic, and at the Ambassador's 
suggestion, discussed the subject with Iraqi DPM Barham Salih 
later the same day. 
3. (S) The Ambassador also urged Kouchner to be actively 
engaged in the Neighbors' Conference process, and reviewed 
the challenges to Iraq posed by Iran, Turkey, Syria and the 
other Arab states.  Kouchner noted France's problems with 
Syria over Lebanon but said he would engage anywhere it could 
be helpful. 
4. (S) Kouchner said the new UNAMI resolution was a good step 
and said he would press the SYG for a larger and more active 
UN role.  He noted, however, that he had spoken to Stefan di 
Mistura several days ago and found him more inclined to 
accept the number two position in WRP than to come to 
Baghdad.  Kouchner said that if he were not presently 
occupied, he would like the job -- and joked that if we could 
wait six months, he would probably get himself fired and be 
available!  He said he hoped to make a second visit to Iraq 
before the end of the year. 
French Embassy Readout 
5. (C) Alexandre Garcia, Charg at the French Embassy, 
provided a readout on Kouchner's other meetings, which 
included discussions with FM Zebari, PM Maliki, President 
Talabani, Vice President Adel Abdel Mehdi, Vice President 
Tariq al-Hashimi, KRG President Massoud Barzani, ISCI Vice 
President Ammar al-Hakim, Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel Delly 
III, Fadhila parliamentary bloc leader Ali Shimmari, Deputy 
PM Salam Zuba'i, Deputy PM Barham Salih, and Iraqi 
journalists.  Garcia said the French were pleased with the 
visit and its media coverage.  "We got our message across," 
said Garcia, who added that Kouchner's talking points focused 
on: France's solidarity with and sympathy for the Iraqi 
people; a willingness to listen to all ends of the political 
spectrum; the need to ensure Iraq's unity, sovereignty and 
territorial integrity; and France's willingness to work with 
Iraqis, especially in a UN context. 
6. (C) Garcia was especially pleased by the atmospherics.  As 
he expected, Kouchner enjoyed a warm reunion with his old 
friend Talabani (in fact, Garcia confessed that the French 
Embassy was afraid that the bond between Kouchner and 
Talabani would be so evident that it might be difficult to 
project the image of a balanced visit).  To Garcia's relief, 
Kouchner had a surprisingly warm meeting with Tariq 
al-Hashimi and a Tawafuq delegation (Garcia had feared that 
the Sunnis might be "confused" by Kouchner's anti-Saddam 
stance in 2003).  He also got on well with Ammar al-Hakim, in 
part because Kouchner fondly recalled his dealings with 
Ammar's late uncle.  Among Ammar's guests was a Sadrist (NFI) 
who seized the occasion to call for the withdrawal of 
Coalition Forces.  According to Garcia, this was the only 
interlocutor who delivered that message to Kouchner, and the 
French FM pushed back by noting that "the Americans are here, 
BAGHDAD 00002848  002 OF 002 
and they obviously need to be part of the solution."  As for 
the Iraqi PM, Garcia said that Kouchner's informal style 
seemed to confuse Maliki at first, but he eventually warmed 
up to his French guest.  Garcia denied (contrary to a report 
in the International Herald Tribune) that Kouchner had 
floated the idea of hosting "quiet talks" for the Iraqis in 
France as per his recent conference of Lebanese leaders. 
According to Garcia, the subject did not come up in any of 
Kouchner's meetings. 
Zebari Delighted 
7. (C) FM Zebari told Pol/C that Koucher's visit could not 
have gone better.  He noted that Kouchner remained mostly in 
listening mode, telling his hosts that he intended to digest 
everything that he heard in his numerous high-level meetings. 
 He spoke in general terms about a larger role for the UN and 
mentioned thoughts about the solution being found in a 
"triangle" of intense, coordinated work between U.S., UN and 
Iraqi officials. 


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