Cable que informa sobre la visita de Sarkozy a Arabia Saudí

ID:138803
Date:2008-01-26 11:36:00
Origin:08RIYADH102
Source:Embassy Riyadh
Classification:SECRET
Dunno:08RIYADH37
Destination:VZCZCXRO1932
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHRH #0102/01 0261136
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 261136Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7463
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH IMMEDIATE 9347

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 RIYADH 000102

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2018
TAGS: FR, PGOV, PINR, PREL, SA
SUBJECT: SARKOZY IN SAUDI ARABIA

REF: RIYADH 0037

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires David Rundell for reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d)

1. (S/NF) SUMMARY. French President Nicholas Sarkozy's
visited Saudi Arabia on January 13-14 to make clear that
Saudi Arabia is now "at the top" of the French Middle East
policy list. Pres. Sarkozy met with Saudi King Abdullah,
addressed the Shura council and spoke briefly with Saudi
business leaders. Topics discussed were Iran's nuclear
ambitions, Mid East Peace Process, Syrian meddling in
Lebanon, security in Iraq, and French-Saudi cooperation,
including the offer of nuclear energy technology. The visit
can be viewed as a moderate success for French-Saudi
bilateral relations, although no major announcements were
made. Press reports of the visit along with a private
readout by the French DCM were positive, but our Saudi
contacts passed on certain displeasure with the French's
conduct. END SUMMARY.

2. (S/NF) French President Nicholas Sarkozy arrived in Riyadh
on January 13 for a one night/two day visit. This visit was
a follow up to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's
visit to Paris in June 2007. Pres Sarkozy was accompanied by
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Defense
Hevre Morin, Minister of Justice Rachida Dati, Minister of
Culture Christine Albanel and Minister of Education Valerie
Pecresse. French DCM in Riyadh Emmanuel Bonne provided a
private readout to Acting Pol Counselor of this visit.
Topics raised included Iran's nuclear ambitions, Mid East
Peace Process, Syrian meddling in Lebanon, security in Iraq,
and French-Saudi cooperation, including the offer of nuclear
energy technology. Additionally, the main theme was to
foster a stronger personal relationship between Pres Sarkozy
and King Abdullah. Overall, King Abdullah emphasized
multilateral solutions, vice bilateral approaches, regarding
the multitude of issues discussed. Readouts from the French
and the press were positive, but our Saudi contacts privately
shared displeasure with certain French conduct.

IRAN
----

3. (S/NF) Pres Sarkozy reiterated his strong concern with
Iran's nuclear ambitions to King Abdullah, asserting
sanctions were the best way to put pressure on Iran.
Abdullah reportedly does not want to inflame the situation
and recommended continued international engagement (P-5 plus
Germany) with Iran. He emphasized that Iran must abide by
its international obligations, specifically the
Non-Proliferation treaty. Abdullah reportedly concurred,
noting Iran's destabilizing activities in Iraq and Lebanon,
along with Saudi belief that Iran's ultimate goal is to
acquire nuclear weapons. However, the Saudis are not yet
ready to take any action beyond diplomacy at this point and
assured their commitment to French efforts for a diplomatic
solution with Iran. King Abdullah stated that Iran knows its
obligations and the next step is for the Iranians to comply.
The French had hoped to make a joint communiqu on Iran, but
the Saudis declined because they do not want to aggravate the
Iranian situation. COMMENT: It was not made clear just how
the proposed communiqu would have aggravated Saudi-Iranian
relations. END COMMENT.

MEPP
----

4. (S/NF) Both Pres Sarkozy and King Abdullah agreed to
support the Annapolis initiative to resolve the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Abdullah told Sarkozy that the
issue of Palestinian refugees must first be resolved and that
the Israelis must cease all West Bank settlement
construction. Abdullah maintained that East Jerusalem must
be the capital of a Palestinian state and that this section
of Jerusalem must be solely under Arab control. The French
had hoped to issue a joint communiqu on the
Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process, but no consensus could be
reached.

SYRIA/LEBANON
-------------

5. (S/NF) The issue of Lebanon was raised by Pres Sarkozy.
Abdullah cautioned that everyone should be very cautious in
speaking with the Syrians, implying their duplicity. He
added the French "should be firm" with Syria in regards to

RIYADH 00000102 002 OF 003


Lebanon. In a separate meeting between French FM Bernard
Kouchner and Saudi FM Saud al Faisal, the French supported
the Arab initiative on Lebanon. Saud added he was skeptical
of the current Lebanese political parties and doubted the
Syrians would comply with any accord.

IRAQ
----

6. (S/NF) Regarding Iraq, both Pres Sarkozy and King Abdullah
concurred that Iraq's security had dramatically improved
since 2006. Abdullah reportedly opined that Iraq must
remained a unified state, and that external players, such as
Iran, must be dissuaded from interfering.

FRENCH-SAUDI COOPERATION
------------------------

7. (S/NF) General energy policy was discussed, including gas,
oil and nuclear power. Pres Sarkozy made an offer to provide
civilian nuclear energy technology (Reftel) to the kingdom.
King Abdullah was receptive to the offer, but no firm
agreement was made.

8. (S/NF) In his speech to the Shura Council (Septel) on
January 14, Pres Sarkozy espoused tolerance of different
religious faiths, women's rights, and freedom of expression.
His speech barely mentioned political issues and instead
focused on a "civilization policy" - respect and dignity for
all cultures. While some of these themes are at odds with
traditional Saudi society, Emb Off present at this event
reported that Sarkozy was well-received.

9. (S/NF) The French delegation included various Ministers to
strengthen educational, commercial and energy ties with the
kingdom. Four cooperative agreements were made: 1) political
consultations to coordinate regional activities; 2) energy
policy regarding gas and oil; 3) vocational language training
increase from 100 to 500 students to help overcome the
French-Arabic language barrier; and 4) higher education with
the goal to increase the number of Saudi students in France
(currently 4000). Pres Sarkozy had a brief (10-minute)
presentation to Saudi business leaders.

10. (S/NF) The overarching theme of the visit, according to
French Embassy Riyadh, was to strengthen the personal
relationship between Pres Sarkozy and King Abdullah. Former
Pres Jacques Chirac and King Abdullah had a strong friendship
with agreement on a host of issues. Reportedly, the Saudis
were concerned by Sarkozy's election last year because of his
expressed support of Israel and Jewish background. This
visit was to dispel Saudi concerns and to assure the Saudis
that Pres Sarkozy could be counted on as strongly as Pres
Chirac. Likewise, the French told us they are modifying
their Mid East policy. The Levant states have been France's
top Mid East focus, while the Arabian Gulf had been at the
"bottom of the list." Recognition of Saudi Arabia's emerging
influence and status has resulted in the French putting Saudi
Arabia "at the top" of the French foreign policy Middle East
list.

GOOD VISIT, BUT NOT GREAT
-------------------------

11. (S/NF) COMMENT. Per the French DCM, they were quite
pleased with Pres Sarkozy's visit. They were disappointed
they could not issue any joint communiqus on any major
issues, such as Iran or the MEPP. Still, they viewed the
reciprocal state visits were steps forward in French-Saudi
relations. Press coverage of Pres Sarkozy was positive with
front page newspaper pictures of both leaders smiling
together.

12. (S/NF) However, our Saudi contacts provided some negative
comments. Minor in substance, but significant to Saudi
sensibilities. Initially, Sarkozy's fiance Carla Bruni was
expected to accompany him (but finally did not travel), which
the Saudis found offensive given their strict, conservative
culture against the company of an unmarried woman. Various
protocol faux pas were committed by the French delegation
during the visit. The French advance made, in Saudi opinion,
unreasonable logistical demands. Finally, Pres Sarkozy was
viewed as less than gracious, in Saudi eyes, during certain
events, such as avoiding tasting traditional Arab foods and a
bored look during the televised arrival sword ceremony.
While these are minor points, the fact our Saudi contacts
mentioned them shows their discontent. These incidents

RIYADH 00000102 003 OF 003


characterized one overarching private comment from the
Saudis, that Pres Sarkozy has not replaced Pres Chirac in
Saudi eyes. Other usually well-informed Saudi contacts have
lamented the overtly commercial nature of the visit. Sarkozy
reportedly presented a list of fourteen (14) sales that
French firms would like to make to the Saudi government,
complete with the original price and discounts that Sarkozy
was prepared to negotiate. END COMMENT.
FRAKER
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