Cablegate: Demarche Response: Managing the Visit of Iranian

Published: Fri 20 Nov 2009 06:21 PM
DE RUEHBR #1341/01 3241821
P 201821Z NOV 09
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2019
BRASILIA 00001341 001.3 OF 004
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Lisa Kubiske, reason 1.4(b) and
1. (C) Summary. CDA met separately November 18 with
Brazilian Ministry of External Relations (MRE) Under
Secretary for Political Affairs II (Asia) Roberto Jaguaribe
and Foreign Policy Advisor in the Presidency Marcel Biato to
deliver demarche regarding the November 23 visit to Brazil of
Iranian President Ahmadinejad (ref A). She also raised the
visit with newly appointed Secretary General (Deputy
Minister) Antonio Patriota during a previously scheduled
courtesy call that day (septel). They indicated that the GOB
sees the visit as part of a growing relationship with Iran,
based on both commercial interests and a broader desire to
engage more actively in the Middle East. They were unanimous
in expressing a belief that engagement and dialogue between
Iran and the international community are essential. They see
sanctions as being of limited value, even while stressing
that Brazil would fully comply with international sanctions.
They believe Iran should accept the IAEA,s offer to provide
fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) and live up to its
NPT and IAEA commitments more generally, and they will tell
Ahmadinejad that. They were aware of the situation with
three detained Amcits and believe their release would be a
good gesture on the GOI,s part. Post believes it likely
that Brazilian officials will follow through on all of these
issues in private, but expects that public statements by
President Lula and others will focus on Iran,s rights and
the positive aspects of the bilateral relations, and that any
provocative public statements by Ahmadinejad will likely go
unanswered. End summary.
- - - Iran-Brazil Relations Growing as Brazil Becomes More
Active in the Middle East - - -
2. (C) The CDA asked U/S Jaguaribe, who was joined by
Brazilian Ambassador to Iran Antonio Salgado, what Brazil
hoped to get out of the upcoming visit, and what they thought
Iran hoped to get out of it. Jaguaribe described it as the
"natural evolution of a consolidating relationship," as Iran
and Brazil have common interests in trade and global affairs.
He said that Brazil is "keen to find mechanisms to expand
trade," asserting that Iran,s trade with Brazil is far
smaller than Iran,s trade with China, Germany, France, the
UK, and others. On the political side, he believed Brazil
had an advantage over the United States and others in dealing
with Iran because of the mistrust affecting many bilateral
relationships. Jaguaribe said he believes Iran sees Brazil
as bringing it "credibility." For Brazil, credibility was not
a factor; rather, the relationship risked damaging Brazil,s
credibility, he said, but Brazil needed to stick to its
principles of engaging with all countries. Jaguaribe also
thought that Iran likes dealing with a country that has an
"independent foreign policy" and that it seeks to cultivate
Brazil as a trade partner. Both sides, he said, believe that
there is clear commercial potential that has not been tapped,
although he stressed once that Brazil would not trade in
"sensitive" areas.
3. (C) Asked the same question about the visit, Biato stepped
back, saying, "The situation in the Middle East is one with
which Brazil has increasingly to do," as it seeks to be more
active in global governance. "We have something to say, and
we will say it." Brazil,s more active stance would include
officials "coming from and going" to the region. (Note: The
Israeli and Palestinian presidents also visited Brazil this
month, and President Lula is likely to visit Israel,
Palestine, and Iran early in 2010. End note.) At the same
time, Brazil is committed to "not taking sides, even if we
have our own perceptions" of the issues in the Middle East.
Biato said that Brazil "wants to be an active trading
partner" of Iran, and is looking at possibilities in oil,
agriculture, and biofuels. The two countries have already
exchanged trade missions and Brazil is looking into helping
Iran on export finance.
- - - Engagement a Must despite Concerns, Respect for
BRASILIA 00001341 002.3 OF 004
Sanctions a Must despite Skepticism - - -
4. (C) Jaguaribe said that that Brazil has "misgivings" about
Iran,s behavior, and Biato said that Iran "has to make
amends for a series of missteps" and "can,t expect to be
treated as a full and equal partner until it comes clean."
Biato stressed that "Iran has certain basic rights" -- the
right to peaceful use of nuclear technology is key -- but has
to cooperate with the international community. At the same
time, Jaguaribe, Salgado, Biato, and Patriota were unanimous
in stressing that dialogue and engagement with Iran offer the
best hope for positive results and that isolation is not an
option. "Our conversations can be beneficial for all,"
Jaguaribe said, "especially for the United States."
Acknowledging that Brazil,s approach was different from that
of the United States and others, Biato likewise felt that "we
need to bring Iran out of the corner" and that "talking
threats" won,t work. Salgado, who has been in Tehran almost
a year, described Iran as "a vibrant and dynamic society"
that is "in the process of change." Although "we don,t know
when it will happen," Salgado was concerned that increasing
the pressure on Iran could be counter-productive, as it would
benefit the hard-liners in Iran. Continuity of engagement is
a critical factor to the internal dynamic in Iran, he said.
Biato made a similar statement, saying that their exchange of
trade missions is a significant element in Brazil,s policy
of engagement.
5. (C) With regard to Ahmadinejad,s visit, Biato stressed
that the timing was "neither here nor there." Brazil,s
interest is "not sudden," as demonstrated by the canceled
Ahmadinejad visit in May and various other lower level
visits. The fact that Ahmadinejad rescheduled the visit
"suggests they believe Brazil has something to offer." Biato
said that Brazil,s stance would be low-key in public, as
always. He noted, for example, that many wanted Brazil to
take a strong public stance against Israeli settlements
during President Peres, November 11 visit, but Lula had not
done so. Brazil sees the visit itself as an important
acknowledgement that Brazil has a role to play on the issue,
but the GOB will be "cautious and prudent" in its public
statements. The CDA stressed that it was important Iran not
leave Brazil thinking that they had been given a pass on
their behavior. Biato responded that just indicating an
understanding of Iran,s concerns "won,t alter the balance"
between Iran and the other key players.
6. (C) Jaguaribe, Biato, and Patriota were skeptical
regarding the value of sanctions, while stressing that Brazil
would fully implement all UNSC sanctions. As already noted,
Jaguaribe stressed more than once that, despite the interest
in developing commercial relations, Brazil would avoid trade
in "sensitive" areas; Biato said that both Iran and Pakistan
had offered to work with Brazil on nuclear matters, but
Brazil had declined. "There is no question whatsoever,"
Jaguaribe said, that Brazil would "fully comply" with UNSC
sanctions, "even where Brazil might not agree." Biato
stressed that "we will take relations forward in a very
transparent way," within the limts of the UN sanctions
regime. "The letter of the law will be respected," he said,
"not more or less." With regard to additional measures,
Biato said that Brazil does not see Iran "at a point that
sanctions or other actions are necessary."
- - - Iran Should Take Up the TRR Offer - - -
7. (C) Jaguaribe described the offer on the TRR as a "good
offer," "intelligent," "clever," one that is "face-saving for
both sides." Iran should take it, he said, and Brazil will
tell Ahmadinejad that. He added that FM Amorim has already
spoken to Iranian FM Mottaki about and other Iranian
authorities about it. He believed that Brazil would be ready
to join with other non-aligned countries in a statement
supporting such an agreement. He added that a particularly
positive aspect of the offer was the "tacit acceptance" of
continuing enrichment within Iran.
8. (C) Jaguaribe thought it was a positive sign that the GOI
took the offer back to Iran, and was not surprised no
BRASILIA 00001341 003.3 OF 004
response had yet been received: "It is going to be a lengthy
process," he said. Citing "growing pressure" in the United
States and a "complex society" in Iran, Jaguaribe worried
that, "Both sides have major figures as potential saboteurs"
of an agreement. He noted that Ahmadinejad seems most
disposed among Iranian leaders to accept it, while others
have criticized the offer as "capitulation." Biato also
warned that the domestic political dynamic in Iran is
complicated and that "this is one of two or three issues that
cut across all sectors of Iranian society" and is "a lifeline
for the government."
9. (C) Jaguaribe saw the need for "tenacity and audacity" on
both sides to reach agreement. He asked what bearing
acceptance of the TRR offer would have on U.S. sanctions.
Saying it was too early to discuss that, CDA stressed that
the USG had already been audacious in backing the TRR offer,
and that dialogue requires more than a U.S. willingness to
engage. Jaguaribe responded that the GOI sees the offer "as
a minor step" and is "disconcerted" by comments from the U.S.
Vice President and Secretary of State, which they see as
sending a "mixed signal" regarding U.S. intentions.
10. (C) At the same time, Jaguaribe said he believed that the
GOI had "legitimate concerns" that the agreement might not be
followed, based on its past experience (he referred
specifically to French actions with regard to Iranian
investments). Jaguaribe felt that there were many points to
be cleared up. Regarding, IAEA compliance, he asserted that
there were "clear grounds for controversy" regarding Iran,s
compliance, insisting that Iran had complied with every
demand, except to address alleged reports to which it had no
access. The GOI claims to be abiding by its commitments
regarding nuclear materials, he said, and there is "no
evidence" of deviation of any such materials. In
Jaguaribe,s view, Iran,s objective is to develop the
capability to build weapons, but not actually to do so. He
noted that Iran is "surrounded by four nuclear powers" --
Russia, Pakistan, India, and Israel -- and suggested that
Iran,s concern is, therefore, understandable.
- - - Human Rights Important; Iran Should Release Amcit
Detainees - - -
11. (C) The CDA raised human rights issues with Biato and
Jaguaribe, stressing the situation had deteriorated markedly.
Jaguaribe said that the Brazilian Jewish, Baha,i and GLBT
communities had approached the GOB regarding problems there,
and that "we are addressing human rights in many ways."
President Lula has "spoken frankly" to Ahmadinejad and is
committed to addressing all the human rights issues,
particularly about his denial of the holocaust, but will not
make public declarations. The holocaust denial was
important, Jaguaribe said, both because of Brazil,s
influential Jewish community and because Brazil sees it as
providing an excuse to "demonize" Ahmadinejad. Biato said
that, as with Cuba, Brazil raises human rights concerns in
private, as they believe raising them publicly is always
ineffective. "We do make these issues clear, and we do bring
them up," he said, citing the Baha,i issue in particular.
Salgado said that many were saying the repression after the
elections was "brutal." But he also suggested that external
pressure on Iran can make the human rights situation worse,
as it gives the government an excuse for additional
repression. The CDA raised the pending UNGA Third Committee
no-action and substantive votes on Iran with Jaguaribe and
Biato, asking them to vote against the former and in favor of
the latter. Both said they were not following it, but would
look into Brazil,s position. (Note: UN votes are handled by
U/S for Political Affairs I Vera Machado, who was returning
from Washington, but post had already raised the issue with
her key deputies. End note.)
12. (SBU) The CDA raised the case of the three Amcit
detainees with Biato and Jaguaribe, who were both aware of
the issue. (Note: Jaguaribe and Salgado said papers had
reported the three had been charged with espionage, contrary
to the information in ref A. End note.) Jaguaribe thought
that releasing them would be "a good signal from Iran outside
BRASILIA 00001341 004.3 OF 004
the nuclear area."
- - - Iran-U.S. Relations Are Key - - -
13. (C) Jaguaribe stressed that "it is not good for the world
that Iran does not have relations with the United States,"
and that bilateral U.S.-Iran discussions are more important
than the ongoing multilateral talks: "The United States is
key." The CDA stated that the United States has demonstrated
a commitment at the highest levels to engage Iran, but Iran
needs to respond. Jaguaribe said he had been telling the
Iranians that "the United States is prepared to take
important steps," which he said the Turkish president has
also told them. But he said there was a "deep mistrust" of
the United States and other Western countries*particularly
the United Kingdom.
14. (C) SG Patriota, just back from a trip to Washington,
said that Brazil is pleased the United States is engaging
Iran. In response to the CDA raising the issue, he stated
that "no one (in the executive) had ever mentioned any
disquiet" on Iran. To the contrary, according to Patriota,
when Presidents Obama and Lula had spoken at the G-20 in
September, with Patriota present, President Obama had told
Lula that "I think it,s positive you are talking to them."
Lula has consistently demonstrated "wisdom" in international
affairs and a willingness to take risks, and is putting both
to use with Iran out a belief that it is in no one,s
interest for Iran to be isolated. In his meetings the
previous week, Patriota had heard no disapproval of Brazil,s
dialogue with Iran, only concern with conveying the right
message with regard to Iran,s nuclear program. Patriota
said that Brazil was committed to seeing Iran have a peaceful
nuclear program.
- - - Comment: Brazil,s Public Remarks, Private Discussions
Likely to Differ Significantly - - -
15. (C) Post believes it likely that Brazilian officials,
including Lula, will follow through on all of these issues in
private, encouraging Iran to engage seriously, to take the
TRR offer, to improve its human rights, and to release USG
Amcits. We also expect that public statements by President
Lula and others will avoid pressing Iran on any of these
issues. When confronted with the possible disconnect between
public and private statements, Biato suggested we should read
Brazil,s official statements (and not, by implication,
listen to what Lula says in his press conferences). "Our
position is clear." The man who blamed "blue-eyed white
people" for the global financial crisis while standing next
to UK PM Gordon Brown takes only general guidance from
Brazil,s MRE and foreign policy advisors. But if his
statements are unpredictable and sometimes quirky, they are
also calculated; he made the "blue-eyed white people" comment
three more times despite the negative international reaction.
Lula, and GOB foreign policymakers more generally, are
basking in the international attention Brazil is getting from
a growing succession of international leaders. They are
intent on cultivating a broad range of relations with other
emerging powers, while avoiding enunciating potentially
controversial positions or being publicly confrontational
where they believe they can play a role in mediating
difficult global issues. As a result, Brazilian public
statements during Ahmadinejad,s visit are likely to focus on
Iran,s rights and the positive aspects of the bilateral
relations, and any provocative public statements by
Ahmadinejad will likely go unanswered.
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILE © Scoop Media