US embassy cable - 02ROME1251

ITALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON ISAF/OEF PARTICIPATION CONFIDENTIAL

Identifier: 02ROME1251
Wikileaks: View 02ROME1251 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Rome
Created: 2002-03-11 11:38:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: EU IT MARR MOPS PARM PREL AFGHANISTAN
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
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 ROME 001251 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2012 
TAGS: EU, IT, MARR, MOPS, PARM, PREL, AFGHANISTAN 
SUBJECT: ITALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON ISAF/OEF PARTICIPATION 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01251  111215Z 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: POL M/C THOMAS COUNTRYMAN FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  ITALY MAY EXTEND ITS PARTICIPATION IN ISAF 
UNTIL LATE JUNE IF REQUESTED, ACCORDING TO FRANCESCO GRECO 
(PROTECT), DIPLOMATIC ADVISOR TO DEFENSE MINISTER ANTONIO 
MARTINO.  GRECO CONFIRMED COMMENTS MARTINO MADE TO THE PRESS 
DURING A RECENT TRIP TO VISIT ITALIAN TROOPS IN THE PERSIAN 
GULF AND AFGHANISTAN THAT ITALY WOULD REMAIN "AT LEAST UNTIL 
JUNE" TO ALLOW THE LOYA JIRGA TO TAKE PLACE IF OTHER EU ISAF 
COUNTRIES AGREE TO EXTEND.  GRECO TOLD POL-MIL COUNSELOR THAT 
MARTINO HAS SENT PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI A MEMO 
RECOMMENDING THAT ITALY "REMAIN OPEN" TO EXTENDING 
PARTICIPATION FOR AN ADDITIONAL THREE MONTHS IN KABUL AND 
BAGRAM ONLY.  NO FORMAL REQUEST IS EXPECTED OR NEEDED, GRECO 
SAID; ITALY WILL ACT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE OUTCOME OF THE 
ISAF MEETING SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 11 IN LONDON.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) DESPITE HIS STRONG RESERVATIONS ABOUT CONTINUED 
ITALIAN PARTICIPATION IN THE ISAF MISSION, DEFENSE MINISTER 
MARTINO HAS RECOMMENDED TO PM BERLUSCONI THAT ITALIAN TROOPS 
REMAIN IN KABUL AND BAGRAM AN ADDITIONAL THREE MONTHS IN THE 
EVENT OTHER EU PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES DECIDE AN EXTENSION IS 
NECESSARY, DIP ADVISOR GRECO SAID.  A TURKISH COMMAND, 
SUPPORTED BY GERMAN AND BRITISH SUBCOMMANDS, IS ACCEPTABLE, 
HE ADDED.  THE EXTENSION WILL BE DISCUSSED AND, APPARENTLY, 
DECIDED AT AN ISAF MEETING SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 11 IN LONDON. 
MARTINO MET WITH ISAF COMMANDER JOHN MCCOLL AND AFGHAN DEPUTY 
PM/MOD FAHIM KHAN DURING HIS STOP IN KABUL, HOWEVER HE TOLD 
THE PRESS THAT HE HAD NOT DISCUSSED AN ISAF EXTENSION WITH 
EITHER OFFICIAL. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01251  111215Z 
 
3. (C) MARTINO'S TRIP TO THE GULF AND KABUL WAS PRIMARILY A 
TROOP VISIT AND COINCIDED WITH A ROTATION OF ITALIAN ASSETS. 
THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER "GARIBALDI" AND THREE OTHER SHIPS ARE 
DUE BACK IN ITALY BY MARCH 20, AS ORIGINALLY PLANNED.  THEIR 
REPLACEMENTS, THE DESTROYER "DURAND DE LA PENNE" AND THE 
FRIGATE "MAESTRALE," ARRIVED IN THE GULF ON MARCH 4.  MARTINO 
EMPHASIZED TO THE PRESS THAT ITALY'S COMMITMENT TO OEF 
REMAINS STRONG BUT THE SITUATION HAS EVOLVED SO THAT IT MAY 
SOON BE POSSIBLE TO END OEF ALTOGETHER.  (NOTE: AS GRECO 
NOTED, THESE AND OTHER COMMENTS HE MADE ON MARCH 4 LOOKED 
PREMATURE AFTER THE FIERCE FIGHTING THAT RECURRED ON MARCH 
5-6. END NOTE) 
 
4. (U) MARTINO, ALWAYS SENSITIVE TO PUBLIC CONCERNS ABOUT 
ITALIAN INVOLVEMENT IN MISSIONS FAR FROM HOME, TOLD THE PRESS 
THAT THE THREAT FROM INDIVIDUAL ACTS OF TERROR IN AFGHANISTAN 
STILL EXISTS EVEN IF AL-QAIDA IS DEFEATED.  FOR THIS REASON, 
ITALY MAY HAVE TO EXTEND ITS ISAF COMMITMENT BEYOND THE 
INITIAL THREE MONTHS, HE SAID.  IF ITALY IS ASKED TO STAY ON 
AND IF ITALY'S EU PARTNERS IN ISAF REMAIN UNTIL JUNE, THE GOI 
WILL CONSIDER AN EXTENSION, HE SAID.  THE GOI'S HEAVY 
COMMITMENT IN THE BALKANS -- A PRIORITY REGION FOR ITALY -- 
WOULD MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO CONTRIBUTE MORE TROOPS OR SUSTAIN 
A LONGER PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN, MARTINO EXPLAINED.  (ITALY 
ASSUMES THE COMMAND OF KFOR7 THIS FALL.) 
 
5. (C) COMMENT.  ONCE AGAIN, MINISTER MARTINO MADE THE NEWS 
-- AND SEEMINGLY NEW POLICY -- WITH HIS SPONTANEOUS PUBLIC 
COMMENTS.  OUR CONTACTS HAVE ASSURED US THAT MUCH OF THE 
MESSAGE WAS TAILORED FOR THE TROOPS HE WAS ADDRESSING.  THEY 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01251  111215Z 
ADMIT THAT THEY HAVE BEEN BUSY RECONCILING SOME OF HIS 
REMARKS WITH THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND.  DESPITE MARTINO'S 
TENDENCY TO VOICE HIS GENUINE RESERVATIONS IN PUBLIC, HE HAS 
ONCE AGAIN UPHELD ITALY'S COMMITMENT TO THE COALITION BY 
RECOMMENDING AN EXTENSION.  UNLESS HIS EU COUNTERPARTS COME 
TO A DIFFERENT CONCLUSION AT THE MARCH 11 MEETING, ITALIAN 
TROOPS ARE LIKELY TO REMAIN IN KABUL UNTIL LATE JUNE.  END 
COMMENT.  MINIMIZE CONSIDERED. 
POPE 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 
 2002ROME01251 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL 


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