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Brown tougher on Mugabe than Blair

Portugal’s political director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vasco Bramao Ramos said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was tougher on the question of President Robert Mugabe’s participation at the European Union-Africa summit in Lisbon than his predecessor Tony Blair.

This was probably because Brown was going to face an election.

Bramao Ramos said although the question of Zimbabwe’s attendance posed a challenge, Portugal would not stray from inviting all African countries.

 

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 07LISBON2054, PORTUGUESE MFA ON MIDDLE EAST, EU-AFRICA SUMMIT,

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

07LISBON2054

2007-08-09 15:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Lisbon

VZCZCXYZ0012

PP RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHLI #2054/01 2211544

ZNY CCCCC ZZH(CCY ADXF2ED19 TOQ9825 640A)

P 091544Z AUG 07 ZDS

FM AMEMBASSY LISBON

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6127

INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES PRIORITY

RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0064

RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0042

RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM PRIORITY 0005

RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA PRIORITY 0038

C O N F I D E N T I A L LISBON 002054

 

SIPDIS

 

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (MODIFIED COLLECTIVES)

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/09/2017

TAGS: PREL PO

SUBJECT: PORTUGUESE MFA ON MIDDLE EAST, EU-AFRICA SUMMIT,

DARFUR, AND CUBA

 

REF: LISBON 2046

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires a.i. David Ballard for reasons 1.4 (B)

and (D).

 

Summary

——–

 

1. (C) MFA political director Vasco Bramao Ramos told the

Charge on August 8 that Portugal has not yet decided whether

it will contribute troops to the new UN mission in Darfur.

He expressed confidence that the EU-Africa summit would take

place in December — saying the EU and Africa have much to

discuss — but worried about the impact on other EU member

states of strong UK opposition to Robert Mugabe’s attendance.

PM Socrates is still contemplating a trip to the Middle

East, perhaps in late August. Bramao Ramos backed away from

his previous suggestion, to a number of senior USG officials,

that Venezuela be encouraged to push the Cuban regime in a

democratic direction. End Summary.

 

2. (U) In a discussion on August 8 regarding next steps in

Kosovo (reftel), Portuguese MFA political director (U/S for

Political Affairs-equivalent) Vasco Bramao Ramos and Charge

also touched on Darfur, the Middle East, the EU-Africa

summit, and Cuba’s political transition. Bramao Ramos was

accompanied by deputy Jorge Cabral and Balkans advisor Carla

Monteiro. CDA was joined by poleconcouns.

 

Afghanistan/Darfur

——————

 

3. (C) Charge thanked Portugal for its recently announced

contribution of an additional 15 troops for an OMLT in

Afghanistan and asked whether Lisbon planned to contribute as

well to the UN force in Darfur. No decision has yet been

made, Bramao Ramos replied. Negotiations regarding the

composition of that mission are ongoing among potential

contributors and deployments will not be made until later in

the year, so there is still time. He lamented, however, that

Portuguese forces are currently seriously overstretched.

 

EU-Africa summit

—————-

 

4. (C) Asked for an update on preparations for the EU-Africa

summit Portugal hopes to host in December, Bramao Ramos

underscored the importance of the summit taking place,

insisting that Europe has much work to do with Africa. He

noted that the EU planned soon to assign a permrep to the AU

in Addis who would represent both the Council of the European

Union and the Commission.

 

5. (C) On the substance, preparations are going well. Both

sides have been working hard on a joint strategy document and

an action plan, both of which would be blessed at an AU-EU

troika meeting in October.

 

6. (C) Bramao Ramos acknowledged that the question of

Zimbabwean attendance poses a challenge but expressed

confidence that the issue “will be adequately dealt with.”

One basic principle from which Portugal will not stray is

that all African countries will be invited, and in the same

way. One possibility under consideration is that the AU will

invite the Africans and the EU will invite the Europeans, and

there are other possibilities (although he did not

elaborate). He noted that they had found a way to ensure

Morocco would participate. In any case, the political

director added, invitations won’t be sent until late

September, so there is still time to find a solution.

Discussions of the issue among member states are ongoing,

according to Bramao Ramos. He said Portugal has been talking

to the United Kingdom “from the beginning,” and lamented that

the Brown government was tougher on the question of Mugabe’s

participation than its predecessor, perhaps because PM Brown

is not ending his term but will face elections in the future.

 

 

7. (C) The political director suggested that the EU and

China should talk to each other about Africa. We have told

them not to play “the nasty game they are playing in Africa,”

and an increasing number of African governments are growing

uncomfortable with China’s activities on the continent,

Bramao Ramos claimed. He added that the Chinese government

has begun to realize it must change the way it is doing

 

things in Africa and pay more attention to governance issues.

Bramao Ramos also expressed concern about India’s

increasingly active role in Africa, particularly in the

export of generic medicines.

 

Middle East

———–

 

8. (C) The political director confirmed that PM Socrates

still hopes to visit the Middle East, perhaps at the end of

August, although it is still very much up in the air. His

itinerary would likely include Israel, Palestine, Lebanon,

and one other Arab country, perhaps Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or

Jordan.

 

Cuba

—-

 

9. (C) Bramao Ramos raised the need to coordinate closely

with the U.S. on Cuba’s political transition. He added his

view that two South American countries have particular

influence in Cuba. President Lula of Brazil, he said, can be

a strongly positive force, whereas Venezuelan President Hugo

Chavez will very likely play an unhelpful role (although

there is a slight chance he could be useful). Chavez needs

to be reminded that he assumed power through legitimate

democratic elections and that that is what must happen in

Cuba.

 

10. (C) According to Bramao Ramos, Cuba has blocked the EU’s

efforts to establish a formal human rights dialogue with the

regime. Pressing Cuba to participate in that dialogue will

be a priority of Portugal’s EU presidency — Bramao Ramos

cited Portugal’s “reasonably good relationship” with Cuba as

reason to be optimistic that Havana would agree. The

Portuguese have told the Cubans, both before and during their

presidency, that there is only one direction to move in, only

one direction which will bring the island peace and

prosperity, and that is the direction of democracy and

greater respect for human rights.

 

Comment

——-

 

11. (C) There were no major surprises. Regarding the

EU-Africa summit, it is clear that Portugal hasn’t yet found

a solution to the question of Zimbabwean participation. The

tougher stance taken by the Gordon Brown government on this

issue clearly concerned Bramao Ramos, mostly, we suspect,

because of its potential impact on the views of other member

states. On Cuba/Venezuela, we were pleased to see the

political director singing a very different tune than he had

in recent meetings with A/S Shannon, A/S Fried, and the

Ambassador, when he advocated encouraging Chavez to play an

active role in nudging the Cuban regime toward democratic

reform. The Foreign Minister’s office had recently confirmed

that Bramao Ramos’s views on this issue did not reflect GOP

policy or the views of the Minister, and he had clearly been

reined in when we spoke to him on August 8.

Ballard

 

(4 VIEWS)

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