Viewing cable 09LISBON233
Title: AMBASSADOR HOSTS ISAF MEETING IN LISBON

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09LISBON2332009-04-27 10:14:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Lisbon
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PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHPW RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHLI #0233/01 1171014
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 271014Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY LISBON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7592
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LISBON 000233 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/23/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS PO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR HOSTS ISAF MEETING IN LISBON 
 
Classified By: POL/ECON COUNSELOR RICHARD REITER, FOR 1.4B, D. 
 
¶1. (C) Ambassador Stephenson on April 22 hosted a meeting of 
several ISAF-country ambassadors in Lisbon to review the 
outcomes of the recent NATO Summit and to assess strategies 
for encouraging the Portuguese government to continue to 
contribute to ISAF in a meaningful way.  Present were 
Lisbon-based ambassadors from Australia, Denmark, France, 
Italy, and Poland.  Ambassador Stephenson opened the 
discussion with a review of recent developments including the 
NATO Summit and the new USG strategy towards Afghanistan and 
Pakistan.  He noted that at the Summit, Portuguese PM 
Socrates committed to doubling the Portuguese presence on the 
ground in Afghanistan, but it is now clear that the GOP had 
not thought through what form this deployment might take. 
 
¶2. (C) Portugal is scheduled to have about 150 personnel in 
Afghanistan in the coming months (2 OMLTs, 1 medical team, 1 
C-130 with ground crew) when they fulfill their current 
pledges, and we are hearing speculation from senior 
Portuguese officials that they may double this number by 
deploying the QRF company that they withdrew from Afghanistan 
in August 2008.  Notionally, the company would partner with 
the British in Helmand Province and operate without caveats, 
a possible deployment timeframe would be early 2010. 
Military sources tell us that the Portuguese CHOD has been 
tasked to provide an options paper for the new deployment 
commitments. 
 
¶3. (C) The Italian Ambassador commented that Italy will host 
the G-8 Foreign Ministers' meeting in Trieste on 25-27 June 
and plans to make Afghanistan the primary agenda topic. 
Italy is now circulating a Food-For-Thought paper suggesting 
the following Afghanistan-related issues be raised: border 
management, drug trafficking and criminal activities, social 
and economic development, and people-to-people contacts. 
Italy, which has responsibility for border areas in western 
Afghanistan, will welcome Iran's engagement at the G-8 
meeting, and will also invite Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, 
China, Turkey, UAE, Egypt, and relevant IOs such as the UN. 
 
¶4. (C) The French Ambassador took note of the fact that in 
many of his recent public remarks, Portuguese FM Amado has 
discussed a "South Atlantic Alliance" to somehow mirror NATO, 
without clarifying what he means.  The French assess that 
with Portuguese historical interests in Brazil, Angola, and 
elsewhere that Portugal is "expressing its geopolitical 
identity" in a way that hints at a Portuguese leadership role 
without requiring any real commitments.  The French have 
concluded that "this is a project that we can let evolve". 
 
¶5. (C) The Danish Ambassador commented on Portugal's tight 
budget, growing tighter in the current economic climate.  In 
the past, Portugal has listed funding problems among the 
reasons for not making more contributions to ISAF, and this 
situation is not going to improve in the short term. 
 
¶6. (C) The Australian and Polish Ambassadors made similar 
comments about the Portuguese non-transparent decision-making 
process.  Portuguese officials will give widely different 
explanations for why decisions are reached, making it 
difficult for us to work with them to resolve obstacles.  The 
Australian Ambassador also noted that Canberra and Lisbon 
share a commitment in East Timor that is sometimes 
underestimated by NATO.  Portugal has several hundred GNR 
(paramilitary police) in East Timor now, and given Portugal's 
view that the UN withdrawal from East Timor in 2002 was 
premature, Portugal is firmly committed to keeping its own 
forces there as long as it deems necessary.  Given a choice 
between East Timor and ISAF, the Portuguese would assess East 
Timor as the more important mission, said the Australian 
Ambassador. 
 
¶7. (C) The Polish Ambassador noted that there is broad 
support among Poles for the ISAF mission, allowing Warsaw 
recently to pledge greater contributions.  But she noted that 
there are increasing questions among the Polish press and 
public about whether Poland's contributions are truly 
appreciated by NATO Allies.  Clearly, she hinted, Poland 
could use a few more public kudos from the Allies. 
 
¶8. (C) The Polish Ambassador also commented that Portuguese 
officials told her that they are sometimes confused by 
conflicting messages and force requests from the US and UK. 
We responded that Portugal is well aware of ISAF's needs and 
shortfalls because it sits in every NATO committee meeting 
where these are discussed.  The Portuguese "confusion" may be 
Lisbon's way of delaying making firm decisions on 
contributions. 
 
LISBON 00000233  002 OF 002 
 
 
 
¶9. (C) COMMENT.  The Portuguese are good friends and allies, 
but can sometimes be challenging interlocutors on Afghanistan 
and related security issues.  Their budget constraints and 
lack of internal coordination make it all the more imperative 
that we and the other Allies do our homework and be well 
coordinated before approaching Lisbon.  For example, we plan 
to work more closely with the UK embassy, in light of the 
comments raised in para 8 above, and we welcome Washington's 
continued efforts to ensure that there is no daylight between 
and among Allies and NATO HQ when making demarches and asks. 
Similarly, these concerns only highlight the value of these 
informal ambassadorial meetings. 
 
 
For more reporting from Embassy Lisbon and information about Portugal, 
please see our Intelink site: 
 
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/portal:port ugal 
 
STEPHENSON