07MOSCOW749, CONGRESSMAN LANTOS’ MEETING WITH FM LAVROV

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW749 2007-02-21 11:34 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2989
OO RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0749/01 0521134
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 211134Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7611
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 000749 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED; PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY. 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL PGOV OREP RS
SUBJECT: CONGRESSMAN LANTOS' MEETING WITH FM LAVROV 
 
1.  (SBU)  Summary:  Congressman Tom Lantos, meeting with FM 
Lavrov February 19, underlined the importance of building 
strong ties between Russia and the U.S. by reinvigorating 
links between legislators and working together on issues like 
nuclear nonproliferation.  Lavrov welcomed closer legislative 
ties and responded enthusiastically to Lantos' pledge to work 
to lift Jackson-Vanik legislation.  Both agreed that 
proposals to establish civilian nuclear fuel centers held out 
significant promise as a way to handle global proliferation 
concerns.  Lavrov urged that Russia, the U.S. and other EU 3 
Plus 3 members move forward carefully to address Iran's 
nuclear file in the face of Tehran's "arrogance."  On Kosovo, 
Lavrov was adamant that Russia could not support an outcome 
that was not also acceptable to Belgrade.  Lavrov pledged 
that Russia would act on information that Syria was not 
complying with weapons end-use requirements and, while urging 
engagement with Syria, revealed that Putin had passed a blunt 
message to Asad during a December visit that Syria had to act 
now to restore its credibility with its regional neighbors. 
End Summary. 
 
2.  (SBU)  Congressman Lantos, accompanied by the Ambassador, 
had an hour-long meeting with FM Lavrov on February 19 to 
discuss U.S.-Russian bilateral relations, nonproliferation 
initiatives, Iran, Kosovo, and the Middle East.  Igor 
Neverov, MFA Director for North American Affairs, and 
Legislative Assistant Michael Beard also participated. 
. 
STRENGTHENING LEGISLATIVE TIES 
------------------------------ 
 
3.  (SBU)  Congressman Lantos underlined his interest in 
reinvigorating ties between U.S. and Russian legislators as 
part of an effort to build a strong relationship between the 
two countries.  Lantos said he would ask his counterpart, 
Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Konstantin Kosachev, to 
formalize existing exchanges between legislatures.  FM Lavrov 
welcomed Lantos' suggestion as timely given the 200th 
anniversary of U.S.-Russian relations and stressed that he 
highly valued his own contacts with U.S. legislators.  He 
warned that progress in the bilateral relationship could be 
lost as both Russia and the U.S. approached election cycles 
and suggested that contacts among legislators could help 
allay questions, including about Russia's record on 
safeguarding nuclear materials. 
. 
BILATERAL RELATIONS, DEMOCRACY AND JACKSON-VANIK 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
4.  (SBU)  FM Lavrov raised concerns about legislation 
sponsored by Congressman Lantos to advance democracy in 
Russia and other countries by requiring U.S. diplomats to 
intensify their work with opposition politicians.  He said 
that good diplomats were in contact with opposition 
politicians as a matter of course, but by legally insisting 
that officials do this, it looked intrusive and raised 
questions among Russian elites about U.S. attitudes towards 
Russia.  Lavrov said he understood the need for elected 
officials to be responsive in a democratic society, but said 
that Moscow viewed attacks on Russia in the Western media 
during the past year as "an organized campaign."  He 
attributed the scope of the attacks to a lack of objective 
information about Russia, which was aided and abetted by 
politicians who benefited politically from slamming Moscow. 
 
5.  (SBU)  Turning to bilateral discussions about human 
rights issues, FM Lavrov stressed that there were positive 
signs.  Both Presidents had endorsed an agreement between 
Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin and the 
Carnegie Endowment which would establish a bilateral 
non-governmental dialogue, with the first meeting of the 
group now slated for April.  Lavrov also raised Jackson-Vanik 
legislation, arguing that the original purpose of the law had 
long been met and that it had become an anomaly.  To Lavrov's 
visible surprise, Congressman Lantos promised that he would 
seek to move on legislation lifting Jackson-Vanik upon his 
return to Washington.  Lavrov enthusiastically welcomed this 
pledge. 
. 
NONPROLIFERATION INITIATIVES 
---------------------------- 
 
6.  (SBU)  Congressman Lantos noted that he had recently 
introduced legislation that would establish international 
nuclear fuel banks under IAEA auspices and invited Russian 
participation in the program.  Lavrov surveyed proposals to 
establish centers that would provide safeguarded access to 
nuclear fuel for civilian programs, while noting that the NPT 
did not prohibit states from pursuing full nuclear fuel 
cycles.  Lavrov warned against attempts for now to reopen the 
 
MOSCOW 00000749  002 OF 003 
 
 
NPT because NAM members would seek unhelpful amendments.  He 
suggested that the U.S. and Russia work together to persuade 
states to participate in nuclear fuel centers, while 
acknowledging such efforts might also require economic 
incentives.  At some point, states could take another look at 
the NPT.  Russia had already begun a
pilot project at the 
Angarsk facility to implement Putin's International Nuclear 
Fuel Cycle Center proposal, and Kazakhstan had expressed an 
interest in participation. 
. 
IRAN 
---- 
 
7.  (SBU)  Turning to Iran, Lavrov highlighted Tehran's 
continuing insistence on its rights under NPT to develop a 
full nuclear fuel cycle.  Lavrov said Moscow did not favor 
proposals that would sacrifice some EU 3 Plus 3 criteria in 
order to prevent Iran from moving ahead to full-scale 
industrial uranium enrichment.  In any event, such proposals 
were unlikely to be successful.  Reviewing recent discussions 
of Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov in Iran and former 
Iranian FM Ali Akbar Velayati in Moscow, Lavrov characterized 
Iran as "arrogant" and inflexible, and argued that the EU 3 
Plus 3 negotiators would need to carefully evaluate what 
steps to take to meet shared goals.  In this regard, Lavrov 
heralded the negotiations over UNSCR 1737 as a model -- they 
took some time, but the resolution was producing results by 
making Iran rethink its position. 
. 
KOSOVO 
------ 
 
8.  (SBU)  Congressman Lantos probed for flexibility on the 
Russian side on Kosovo.  Lavrov contrasted U.S. and Russian 
views on Iran, Iraq, the Middle East, and frozen conflicts -- 
where the sides shared the same basic objectives but differed 
at times over tactics -- with the question of Kosovo's 
status.  On Kosovo, there was a disagreement over objectives. 
 Russia's view was that deciding Kosovo's status without the 
consent of Belgrade was "absolutely unacceptable" and 
threatened to destabilize the Balkans.  While Moscow 
understood that the status question could not drag on for 
years, it viewed U.S. efforts to "speed up" a solution as 
counterproductive.  In Lavrov's view, the threat of violence 
by Kosovars was not an adequate justification for a quick 
decision. 
 
9.  (SBU)  FM Lavrov argued that the West had made 
concessions to Kosovar concerns ever since UNSCR 1244 was 
adopted, but had given Serbian interests short shrift by 
failing to enforce resolution provisions that benefited the 
Serbs.  Pronouncing himself "not optimistic" on the outcome 
of the Ahtisaari plan, Lavrov foresaw that a draft UNSCR 
might avoid endorsing independence while using careful 
wording and constructive ambiguity to achieve that result. 
For Russia's part, Kosovo still held an emotional resonance, 
as reflected in former PM Primakov's recent article 
advocating a veto of a Kosovo UNSCR.  Russia was ready to 
cooperate on a platform of mutually acceptable negotiations 
between Belgrade and Pristina. 
. 
ENERGY SECURITY 
--------------- 
 
10.  (SBU)  Lavrov expressed an interest in U.S. proposals to 
develop energy saving technology and alternative fuels and to 
establish safe nuclear plants.  He defended Russian energy 
policy, arguing that Moscow had never violated any of its 
energy contracts with its neighbors.  Russia had the right to 
trade at market prices, even with its closest allies. 
. 
SYRIA 
----- 
 
11.  (SBU)  The Congressman pressed Lavrov on the supply of 
Russian weapons to Hizbollah through Syria.  Lavrov reviewed 
Israeli allegations this past summer that Russian anti-tank 
missiles that had been sold to Syria had ended up in 
Hizbollah's hands.  The Israelis had provided sufficient 
documentation to prompt the Russians to ask the Syrians for 
an explanation.  The Syrians claimed they had left the 
weapons behind when they withdrew from Lebanon, but the 
Russians had successfully obtained more specific end-use 
promises that now clarified that Russia could conduct 
surprise inspections.  Lavrov said Moscow was aware of 
allegations that weapons were still being transferred over 
the Lebanese-Syrian border and promised Russia would act to 
verify end-uses if specific information was provided. 
 
12.  (SBU)  Turning to the situation in the Middle East, 
 
MOSCOW 00000749  003 OF 003 
 
 
Lavrov said that Putin and he had heard during Putin's Gulf 
trip last week that it was important to involve the Syrians 
rather than isolate them.  There was widespread concern in 
the Gulf and Jordan that they were "losing" Syria to Iran. 
At the same time, Asad could best serve his own interests by 
"doing the right thing" and "getting out of the mess he is 
in."  During Asad's visit to Moscow in December, Lavrov said, 
Putin had been blunt in suggesting specific steps Asad should 
take:  working with Hamas and Hizbollah on freeing the 
captured Israelis and acting in a positive way to influence 
the situation in Lebanon.  Moscow had also conveyed to 
Damascus Washington's concerns about policing the 
Syrian-Iraqi border and the Damascus airport.  Lavrov was 
also hopeful (if surprised) about efforts by Saudi Arabia and 
Iran to encourage progress in Lebanon.  He suggested that 
Iranian helpfulness in this case provided support for the 
view that Tehran might be willing to discuss regional issues 
in a productive fashion. 
 
13.  (SBU)  Congressman Lantos has cleared this message. 
BURNS

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