Viewing cable 04VATICAN4760

04VATICAN47602004-12-16 12:11:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L  VATICAN 004760 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2014 
REF: A. A) 03 VATICAN 5644 
     ¶B. B) VATICAN 3079 
Classified By: Ambassador Jim Nicholson for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d) 
¶1. (C) Holy See Foreign Minister Lajolo agreed with NEA A/S 
Burns December 9 that there were signs of "a better 
situation" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he 
emphasized that "both sides" now needed to move forward with 
the Road Map.  On Iraq elections, Lajolo welcomed Burns' 
assurance that they would be held as scheduled, and was 
unfazed by his caveat that they would not be flawless. 
Lajolo said elections did not have to be perfect as long as 
they created an adequate sense of legitimacy for the new 
government among Iraqis.  Lajolo was interested in Burns' 
assessment of the security situation in Iraq, and appreciated 
the Assistant Secretary's assurances of continued USG 
attention to the plight of Christians there.  Burns also 
reviewed current USG thinking on Syria, Iran, and Libya.  End 
Signs of Hope 
¶2. (C) Holy See Foreign Minister equivalent Archbishop 
Giovanni Lajolo concurred with NEA Assistant Secretary 
William Burns' assessment in a December 9 meeting at the 
Vatican that there were signs of "a better situation" in the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Lajolo emphasized that renewed 
commitment was now needed from "both sides" to reinvigorate 
the Road Map.  According to Lajolo, Arafat's exit from the 
scene gave the Palestinians an opportunity for "more active 
engagement" against terrorism.  The Israelis, for their part, 
needed to be more committed to maintaining peace and should 
go out of their way to avoid provocations, Lajolo maintained. 
Equal Treatment Crucial 
¶3. (C) A/S Burns emphasized President Bush's commitment to 
progress in resolving the conflict and his determination to 
move forward despite continuing challenges.  Lajolo 
underlined the need for the USG to appear even-handed in 
brokering the dispute.  "The impression of equal treatment" 
of the Israelis and Palestinians is crucial, he said.  Burns 
noted that the more the Palestinians acted against terrorism, 
the better the USG could work with Israel on freedom of 
movement issues, settlement activity, and other Palestinian 
Iraq:  Elections Don't Need to be Perfect 
¶4. (C) Turning to Iraq, Burns told Lajolo that Iraqi 
elections would be held as scheduled in January, but 
cautioned that the process would not be flawless.  Lajolo was 
unfazed.  "They don't have to be perfect," he said, as long 
as they create a sense of legitimacy for the government among 
Iraqis.  Burns noted continuing security challenges, and 
recounted his recent meeting in Baghdad with various 
Christian leaders.  He assured Lajolo of continued U.S. 
attention to the plight of Christians there, and said that 
Ambassador Negroponte's door has been and will remain open to 
Iraq Christian groups.  Lajolo acknowledged the Vatican's 
continued preoccupation with security for the Christian 
community, and its longer-term concern about the exodus of 
Christians from Iraq.  Noting that there had been another 
bombing of a Catholic Church the day before in Mosul, Lajolo 
said he appreciated USG efforts to give continuing priority 
to the issue. 
¶5. (C) Lajolo noted that PM Allawi had seemed optimistic 
about security issues during their November Vatican meeting. 
"I don't know how he could be," Lajolo quipped, but he 
suggested that with Iraqis comprising such a large number of 
victims of the terrorist attacks, a backlash against the 
insurgents could grow in time.  Burns agreed, and said he had 
seen evidence of a backlash, at least against foreign 
Regional Issues 
¶6. (C) As in his previous meeting with A/S Burns (ref a), 
Lajolo raised the Holy See's interest in the roles of Syria 
and Iran in the region.  Burns explained the USG's security 
concerns on the Syrian-Iraqi border and on support for 
insurgents in Iraq from Iraqi Baathists in Damascus.  Lajolo 
was also interested in Burns' current take on Syria's 
influence on Lebanon.  On Iran, Lajolo seemed unconvinced 
about the nuclear danger posed by the regime.  Burns said 
there was ample evidence of Iran's nuclear ambitions, and 
pointed to its lack of honesty with the International Atomic 
Energy Agency (IAEA).  He emphasized, however, that the U.S. 
was committed to diplomatic means to resolve the situation. 
Lajolo expressed hope that the student population in Iran and 
the power of the internet might help to bring about change. 
Burns acknowledged both the potential and the limitations of 
these factors, and said the prospects for imminent change 
were not great.  On Libya, Lajolo mentioned rumors of 
Ghadafi's intent to install his son as a successor, and noted 
recent travel to that country by many Italians. 
¶7. (C) The Middle East remains the region of priority concern 
for the Holy See, which continues to regard the 
Israel-Palestinian divide as the 'mother of all conflicts' in 
the region and an ongoing fuel for terrorism.  The Vatican's 
concerns about the exodus of Christians from Iraq mirror a 
larger concern about the demise of historic Christian 
communities throughout the region which one member of the 
Curia recently suggested to us would leave the whole region 
virtually devoid of Christian communities in a generation or 
two.  Archbishop Lajolo, accompanied by 2005 IVP awardee and 
Regional Director for the Middle East Monsignor Franco 
Coppola, clearly appreciated the chance to hear A/S Burns' 
perspective on the full range of issues in the region. 
¶8.  (U) A/S Burns has cleared this message. 
¶9.  (U) Baghdad minimize considered.