06MOSCOW1323, RUSSIAN DFM SALTANOV ON INVITATION TO HAMAS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW1323 2006-02-10 15:26 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3012
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1323/01 0411526
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 101526Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0551
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001323 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIAN DFM SALTANOV ON INVITATION TO HAMAS 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons: 1.4(B/D). 
 
1. (C)  On February 10 Ambassador Burns called on DFM 
Saltanov seeking clarification of Putin's invitation to Hamas 
leadership to visit Moscow.  Ambassador said the announcement 
of an invitation to Hamas had come as an unwelcome surprise 
to Washington (and other Quartet capitals).  It was very 
important to get a clear sense of Russian thinking, and avoid 
such surprises in the future.  It was equally important to 
ensure that we are all still fully committed to the 
understandings reached in London. 
 
2. (C)  Saltanov stressed that Russia fully intends to abide 
by all London commitments and preserve the Road Map as a 
basis for progress.  Echoing the MFA's statement (below) as 
well as points made separately to the Ambassador by Russian 
Special Envoy for the Middle East Aleksandr Kalugin, Saltanov 
characterized Hamas' overwhelming victory at the polls as an 
unwelcome surprise, but insisted that dialogue with Hamas was 
the most promising way forward.  Saltanov indicated that a 
Hamas visit to Moscow is still in the planning stages.  It 
would take place in 2-3 weeks time, before Israeli FM Tzipi 
Livni's visit in mid-March, but Saltanov emphasized that 
nothing is set yet.  Similarly, he was uncertain about the 
level of the Hamas  delegation, noting that Khalid Meshal 
"might" be invited.  Ambassador urged Saltanov to take into 
account the timing of the Israeli election as it considered 
possible timing of a Hamas visit. 
 
3. (C)  Like other Quartet partners, Saltanov said, the GOR's 
chief objective was to prevent the situation in the Occupied 
Territories from worsening.  After relatively positive 
meetings in Cairo with the Hamas leadership, he continued, 
the Egyptians had signaled to Moscow that follow-on talks 
with Hamas might prove useful as a way to complement Egypt's 
efforts.   On the operational level, Saltanov said, any 
Palestinian delegation to Moscow would most likely be 
received at the DFM level, but he did not exclude a possible 
"courtesy call" on FM Lavrov.  Ambassador stressed to 
Saltanov that a Lavrov-Hamas meeting was not a good idea and 
would likely be met with genuine concern in Washington. 
 
4. (C)  More broadly, Saltanov said, the GOR firmly supports 
PA President Abu Mazen and considers the possibility of the 
Palestinian Authority completely dominated by Hamas 
"destabilizing."  Saltanov emphasized that Abu Mazen should 
retain control of the PA's foreign policy and security 
structures and that, given their expressed desire to take 
responsibility for the fate of Palestine, Hamas should abide 
by the agreements of the previous administration.  Saltanov 
said the GOR understands that without guarantees for Israeli 
security, normalization of Israeli-Palestinian relations will 
not be possible.  Saltanov said Hamas' recognition of 
Israel's right to exist would remain a very challenging issue 
and that it would take considerable time to work out any 
possible solution. 
 
5. (C)  He added that a pure HAMAS government would be bad 
for the peace process, not to mention Israel, and would make 
the Quartet's work all the more challenging; a "technocratic" 
government would be the ideal.  He cautioned against the 
possible destabilizing consequences of cutting aid to the 
Palestinians and said creating an international oversight 
committee could give donor countries assurances that funds 
were channeled only for peace-building purposes.  Saltanov 
said the GOR would be watching attentively any fault lines 
within Hamas and indicated that leveraging any cracks may 
offer the best way to manage this new situation. 
 
Syria/Lebanon 
------------- 
 
6. (C)  Saltanov said the situation in Lebanon is fragile, 
but noted that there is a tendency in Western capitals to 
exaggerate Damascus' influence over Beirut.  He also said the 
GOR continues to press Asad to cooperate fully with the 
Hariri investigation. 
 
Algeria 
------- 
 
7. (C)  Saltanov characterized Russia's relationship with 
Algeria as "improved" and noted Algeria has been helpful on 
counter-terrorism.  He indicated that Putin will meet 
President Bouteflika in early March.  Saltanov said that a 
packet of bilateral agreements on civilian and military 
issues should take its final form in the next several weeks 
and that the upcoming visit has generated considerable 
interest in the Russian business community. 
 
MFA Statement on Hamas Invitation 
 
MOSCOW 00001323  002 OF 002 
 
 
--------------------------------- 
 
In response to a press correspondent regarding President 
Putin's intention to invite the Hamas leadership to Moscow in 
the near future, Russian MFA Spokesman Kamynin said: 
 
"Our intention in establishing contacts with the Hamas 
leadership is motivated first of all by Russia's desire to 
prevent a serious deterioration in the Palestinian-Israeli 
peace process, to hold open the
possibility for further 
progress on the Road Map, to continue the search for a 
solution acceptable to the PA, to Israel and to the 
international community.  Our approach is based on the need 
to respect the will of the Palestinian people, expressed in 
the legitimate democratic elections. 
 
"In a planned meeting with the Hamas leadership, we intend to 
promote practical implementation of the Quartet approach 
agreed to at the January 20 meeting in London. 
 
"It is important to stress that our dialogue with Hamas will 
take place parallel with the dialogue already underway 
between major regional players, in particular Egypt, and 
Hamas.  We share the same goal - to make the Hamas leadership 
aware of the clear and unambiguous message of the 
international community about the need to take responsible 
decisions, corresponding to the basic interests of the whole 
Palestinian people and promoting the creation of an 
independent and viable Palestinian state, co-existing in 
peace and security with Israel." 
 
BURNS

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