07MOSCOW828, AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES HAMAS VISIT, SYRIA, AND IRAQ

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW828 2007-02-27 16:37 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO9135
OO RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHMO #0828/01 0581637
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 271637Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7741
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000828 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2017 
TAGS: PREL KPAL EAID IS LE SY IZ SA RS
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES HAMAS VISIT, SYRIA, AND IRAQ 
WITH DFM SALTANOV 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons:  1.4(B & D). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  Deputy Foreign Minister Saltanov told the 
Ambassador February 27 that the MFA saw Hamas as evolving in 
its views on Israel following a February 26-27 Moscow visit 
by Hamas Politburo Chief Mishal.  While Mishal was not 
willing to directly address publicly the question of 
recognizing Israel, Saltanov was encouraged by positive steps 
in that direction in private meetings.  According to 
Saltanov, Mishal had told FM Lavrov that Hamas saw the Mecca 
Agreement as opening the path to negotiations with Israel. 
Saltanov said Russia believed that an end to the "blockade" 
on assistance to the Palestinians would be a necessary part 
of supporting the National Unity Government.  Moscow had 
coordinated its invitation to Hamas with Abu Mazen, but the 
Israelis continued to be critical of Russia's engagement. 
The Ambassador pressed Saltanov on Russian weapons sales to 
Syria and Iran and Saltanov responded by claiming that 
Russian end-user controls had been tightened.  Putin's trip 
to the Gulf and Saudi Arabia had been marked by consensus on 
regional political issues and heightened interest in energy 
cooperation.  End Summary. 
. 
HAMAS VISIT 
----------- 
 
2.  (C)  A four-member Hamas delegation led by Politburo 
Chief Khaled Mishal met February 27 with Russian FM Lavrov, 
following a February 26 meeting with DFM Saltanov.  No other 
meetings with Russian officials, including President Putin, 
are planned.  Saltanov told the Ambassador that the GOR had a 
positive impression after the meetings and saw Hamas' 
position on peace with Israel as "evolving."  Saltanov did 
not exclude that Hamas might continue to make sharp 
statements publicly, but at least privately there were 
positive signs.  Mishal told the Russians that he viewed the 
February 8 "Mecca Agreement" on a National Unity Government 
(NUG) as an opening which could lead to a path of 
negotiations with Israel because the Agreement provided a 
platform for such talks. 
 
3.  (C)  Saltanov said the MFA pressed Mishal for clarity on 
"the most important question -- was Hamas prepared to 
recognize Israel."  Mishal would not directly answer, but he 
underlined that Hamas was willing to accept the Arab League's 
2002 Beirut Summit decision that promised normal relations 
with Israel as well as UN Security Council resolutions that 
implicitly recognized Israel.  Pressed by the Ambassador as 
to whether Mishal was willing to express such views publicly, 
Saltanov counseled patience and again underlined that Hamas 
was evolving but was not likely to recognize Israel directly 
so soon after the Mecca Agreement.  This would be a careful 
process, but Hamas would be moving forward, if by small 
increments.  (NOTE:  In a February 27 press conference, 
Mishal would not respond directly to a question on whether 
Hamas would recognize Israel.) 
. 
QUARTET CONDITIONS 
------------------ 
 
4.  (C)  Referring to the "blockade" on assistance to the 
Hamas-led government, Saltanov relayed Mishal's belief that 
implementation of the Mecca Agreement should be sufficient to 
allow the resumption of aid to the Palestinian Authority. 
Saltanov noted that Russia's views on ending the assistance 
ban paralleled the views of the seven Muslim like-minded 
countries who met in Pakistan on February 25; in Russia's 
view, relaxation of the ban depended in the first place on 
Hamas fully honoring the Mecca Agreement and working with Abu 
Mazen to establish the NUG.  According to Saltanov, Mishal 
had promised that Hamas would be "non-discriminatory" in 
forming a government and would seek out "internationally 
recognized persons."  Further Russian aid to the Palestinians 
would be held in abeyance, according to Saltanov, who 
stressed his hope that the Europeans would be able to further 
refine the temporary international mechanism at a March 13 
Brussels meeting. 
. 
COORDINATION WITH ABU MAZEN AND ISRAEL 
-------------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C)  Saltanov said that Russia had been encouraged by PA 
President Abu Mazen to pursue continued engagement with 
Hamas.  Abu Mazen was pleased by Moscow's support for the 
Mecca Agreement.  The Israelis (with whom Saltanov met in 
Jerusalem last week before the Hamas invitation was made 
public) continued to be critical of Russia's approach. 
Saltanov said the Israelis were unrealistic about what Hamas 
would be willing to do in the immediate aftermath of the 
Mecca Agreement.  In his view, the Israelis were making a 
 
MOSCOW 00000828  002 OF 002 
 
 
serious mistake by not recognizing the dangers of the 
situation, not only on their borders, but in the broader 
Middle East.  Saltanov did n
ote that the Russians had acted 
on an Israeli suggestion to use their influence with Hamas to 
urge a reduction in violence and had pressed Hamas on Kassam 
rocket attacks. 
 
6.  (C)  Saltanov said Russia strongly supported the 
Secretary's efforts to encourage talks between PM Olmert and 
 
SIPDIS 
Abu Mazen.  Moscow saw it as a success that the two met at 
all, and that they had agreed to meet again.  Saltanov 
briefly noted that the question of the Israeli soldier held 
prisoner by Hamas remained outstanding.  He said Lavrov had 
pressed Mishal on this issue, but had been careful not to get 
into the details, so as not to obstruct the effort of 
Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Soliman. 
. 
SYRIA 
----- 
 
7.  (C)  Saltanov told the Ambassador that both Mishal and 
Abu Mazen had contended to the Russians that Syria was 
playing a helpful role in encouraging the Mecca Agreement and 
forming the NUG.  The Ambassador emphasized the dangers to 
regional stability of Russian weapons sales to Syria (and 
Iran), noting outstanding U.S. concerns and pointing to 
Congressman Lantos' focus on this issue in all his meetings 
during last week's visit.  Saltanov did not directly defend 
the sales, but said that Russia had put better end-user 
controls in place, and would welcome any concrete information 
that such controls were not be followed. 
. 
IRAQ 
---- 
 
8.  (C)  Saltanov was aware of the mid-March subministerial 
conference in Baghdad of Iraq's neighbors and P-5/G-8 
members, but had not yet received an invitation from the 
Iraqis.  Russia had long supported such a conference; it 
would not only allow increased international support for the 
Iraqi government, it would also provide an opportunity to 
engage with Syria and Iran on Iraqi security. 
. 
PUTIN IN THE GULF 
----------------- 
 
9.  (C)  Saltanov, who had accompanied President Putin during 
his mid-February visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, 
said that the meetings in Riyadh had been particularly 
useful.  The Saudis had offered their strategic perspective 
on the region and both Moscow and Riyadh shared the view that 
more needed to be done to resolve regional conflicts.  Much 
of the discussions in Qatar and Saudi Arabia had been focused 
on energy, but there had been no concrete projects agreed to 
in the leaders' talks.  However, a parallel business forum 
had spurred discussions on bilateral investments and joint 
projects in third countries.  Saltanov also noted continuing 
interest in the Gulf (and in Egypt) in developing peaceful 
nuclear energy programs. 
BURNS

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