Sunday, December 09, 2007

France Is Not a Reliable Source on Russia or China

The French diplomatic corps, up to and including the President, is not doing a very good job these days. It really could be that the change to a pro-US orientation brought from the top has been too sudden. There is no question though that the French diplomatic corps is performing poorly these days.

Let's go back to October 9:

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, seeking to crank up pressure on Iran, said he had bridged differences Tuesday with Russia's Vladimir Putin over how the world should respond to Tehran's nuclear activities.

Sarkozy, on his first presidential visit to Russia, gave no details about the leaders' "convergences" on Iran or any signal that a quick solution to the international standoff is in sight. Russian officials made no public mention of progress.

But Sarkozy — who has toed a tough line on Russia recently — struck a decidely upbeat note after more than three hours of talks with Putin on a battery of touchy subjects.

"Our positions moved much closer together" on Iran, Sarkozy told reporters. He mentioned "many convergences" over Iran.

Much closer together. The next day we found out exactly how much closer.

"We do not have data that says Iran is trying to produce nuclear weapons. We do not have such objective data," Putin said. "Therefore we proceed from a position that Iran has no such plans but we share the concern of our partners that all programs should be as transparent as possible."

Oh. That much closer. One problem is that they've been that close for years now.

Enough, let's move to December:

According to a French diplomatic source in Paris, Friday's meeting between the two had been a "disaster," with Jalili signalling that Tehran wanted to start again from scratch on the issue.

... ... ...

A French diplomatic source said the new resolution would be a compromise between Western nations and China and Russia, and added that it could perhaps be agreed upon in the coming weeks.


In previous meetings Russia and China, which have strong trade ties with Iran, have agreed only to the mildest measures proposed by Britain, the United States and France.

The French diplomat said China's envoy had adopted a more constructive tone on Saturday.

It is coming to seem that the French have a habit of portraying the world as more favorable than it is. The gambit is that going public with the position you hope another party has may nudge the other party over if it is undecided. It backfires if the other party doesn't really hold the position you want.

China didn't immediately respond, and for a time, France may have hoped it was nudging China towards a new resolution. Those believing France's reports felt a Chinese agreement was imminent. The French probably didn't know what the US was going to do a few days later by releasing the NIE. But after the bomb had been dropped, before the dust had settled, we actually hear from the Chinese.

Pressed by reporters on whether the assessment might make new sanctions against Iran less likely in the near term, the Chinese diplomat said: "I think Council members will have to consider that, because ... now things have changed."

Larijani now says Jalili did not disasterously tell the Europeans that negotiations would have to re-begin from scratch.

"I spoke to Mr. Jalili and saw the transcript of the meeting, too," Mr. Larijani said, referring to Saeed Jalili’s talks with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, in London on Nov. 30. Mr. Jalili replaced Mr. Larijani last month. "There was no such thing, and the Western media made it up," Mr. Larijani said.

'The transcript' means that the anonymous French source has been directly accused of lying and challenged to support that claim based on the transcript Larijani tells us exists. We'll see if the French respond.

No comments: