06MOSCOW12035, OLMERT VISIT: AUSPICIOUS START

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW12035 2006-10-27 10:45 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2044
OO RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHMO #2035 3001045
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 271045Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4591
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 0140
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 2160

S E C R E T MOSCOW 012035 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/25/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR IS RS
SUBJECT: OLMERT VISIT:  AUSPICIOUS START 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns:  1.4(B/D) 
 
1.  (C) Summary. Israeli PM Ehud Olmert's first working visit 
to Moscow as prime minister coincided with the 15th 
anniversary of Israel-Russia renewed diplomatic ties.  The 
issues discussed in Olmert's three meetings--with President 
Putin, FM Lavrov and Defense Minister Ivanov--included the 
Middle East, Palestine, Iran, and Lebanon. The October 18 
meeting with Putin lasted over four hours and suggested that 
the warm relationship that existed between Putin and Sharon 
will continue with Olmert.  Olmert is well known here, as he 
sat on the intergovernmental commission before becoming Prime 
Minister. Next on the bilateral agenda: the annual 
intergovernmental commission, which convenes in Israel in 
November.  End summary. 
 
Key Question: Situation in the Middle East 
------------------------------------------ 
 
2.  (C) According to MFA Middle East Desk Director Vladimir 
Baibakov, Olmert told the Russians that Israel adheres to the 
"Roadmap" but was open to other suggestions for reviving the 
peace process.  He criticized GOR engagement with Hamas, 
which Olmert's GOR interlocutors spun as Putin's effort to 
ensure that all possible avenues to a peace process were 
thoroughly explored.  Olmert described his failed initial 
efforts to engage with Hamas, and his reluctant conclusion 
that Abbas is the only possible partner in Palestine. 
According to Baibakov, Olmert, for the first time, mentioned 
possible financial aid and assistance to Abbas's security 
forces.  The GOR welcomed Olmert's unconditional readiness to 
meet Abbas. 
 
3.  (S) Presidential Administration foreign policy advisor 
Sergey Prikhodko told the Ambassador that Olmert was 
noncommittal on the GOR's renewed push to transfer 50 armored 
transport vehicles to Palestinian security forces loyal to 
President Abbas, with the Prime Minister "taking it under 
consideration." 
 
Lebanon:  UNSCR 1701 a Good Basis 
--------------------------------- 
 
4.  (C)  Olmert told the Russians that he is ready to meet 
with Lebanese PM Siniora. Olmert did not conceal his concern 
about the border with Syria.  Baibakov said the subject of 
Russian weapons found in Hezbollah's possession was also 
discussed.  Baibakov thought that the source of the 
weapons--he noted that Hezbollah is well armed with American, 
Russian, French and even Israeli materiel--is less important 
that the measures necessary to curb the flow of weapons.  The 
GOR continues to believe that only a comprehensive peace 
process involving all parties, including Lebanon, Syria, 
Palestine and Israel, can be successful. 
 
5.  (C) According to Prikhodko, Putin raised the GOR's 
bilateral contribution of an engineering battalion, with the 
President expressing skepticism over the viability of the UN 
peacekeeping operation.  Putin noted his preference for the 
pragmatic objective of rebuilding bridges. 
 
Iran:  Let there be no Mistake 
------------------------------ 
 
6.  (C) Olmert devoted most of his time in Moscow to Iran, 
where he disagreed with the GOR's "more flexible" position. 
According to Baibakov, the GOR continues to believe that 
ending negotiations with Iran complicates the international 
community's efforts to track events there, and to find useful 
pressure points. Olmert, according to Prikhodko, pushed back 
strongly against the Russian assessment that Iran is 6-8 
years away from being a nuclear power, arguing that the 
Iranian regime could develop a nuclear weapon within 1-2 
years. 
 
Good Rapport 
------------ 
 
7.  (C) Olmert is well-known here from his previous service 
on the GOR-GOI intergovernmental commission, and is a 
well-liked, native of Odessa.  Prikhodko confirmed the good 
rapport between the leaders, with Putin personally impressed 
by his interlocutor, whom he thought was a strong leader as a 
result of his initiation by fire in the Lebanon conflict. 
The visit was marred by Putin's off-color remarks on the sex 
scandal involving President Katsav, which was captured by 
journalists.  The next high-level GOR-GOI engagement will be 
in the November session of the intergovernmental commission 
in Israel. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

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