From: Rami Dajani
Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2008 3:32 AM
To: LPU; Andrew Kuhn (Compuserve)
Subject: some "off the record" information (this is hearsay so is not confirmed and not for sharing etc)
According to a Russian diplomat who attended the Blair meeting with the Quartet on Friday:
Ultimately, the main focus is not on the economic front, as Blair thinks it would take 2 to 3 years to get anything major accomplished. Nevertheless, he told the Quartet he has a good relationship with Barak, and is continuing efforts at the trilateral level. In particular he has been telling Barak that the present approach to Gaza is wrong and needs to change immediately.
Blair is mainly focusing on the political front. The lack of any progress since Annapolis is discouraging and will have bad consequences. [The diplomat said he got the impression that Blair was talking like Bush?s representative on the ground, trying to set something up for Bush?s follow up visit].
As to the Russian view and the chances of a Moscow conference:
The US has effectively succeeded in “marginalising the Quartet”
Russia is seriously considering withdrawing from the Quartet, as it is now increasingly a cover for US policy (citing the de Soto report)
The US has rejected any Russian role in the Road Map mechanism, saying the Palestinians have demanded an exclusive US role. Essentially, the US does not envisage any Quartet role at all.
Russia places responsibility (at least in part) on the PA for excluding it from the process. He criticised the PA approach of only working with the strongest power. He said it was illogical given overwhelmingly pro-Israel positions taken by US over decades (citing record 32 vetoes in the UNSC).
Moscow conference will only take place if it is “comprehensive”.
US saying there will be no meaningful Syrian role as long as Syria supports Hizbollah and Mishaal sits in Damascus.
Russia considering lowering its participation (ie no conference) as it has many other foreign policy priorities (Kosovo to name one)
Leading up to the Quartet meeting in Berlin, only communication US State Dept has been making is asking to confirm Russian attendance. “A pure formality”.