Cablegate: Media Reaction; Chavez in Argentina, Middle East, 03/05/07;


DE RUEHBU #0429/01 0661053
O 071053Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


Papers lead with Bush's up-coming trip to the region aimed at
reinforcing a 'positive agenda' - amid Argentina's preparation of
Chavez' mass public rally against President Bush's visit to Uruguay
-, and the repercussions of U.S. announcement of a summit in Iraq,
which includes Iran and Syria.


- "Bush Kicks Off Unusual Latam Tour"

Hugo Alconada Mon, daily-of-record "La Nacion" Washington-based
correspondent, writes (03/05) "President Bush begins next Wednesday
his Latam trip - which doesn't include Argentina --, and which will
be full of gestures and messages. In practice, it will try to prove
U.S. interest in the region, despite its obsession with Iraq, Iran
and the rest of the Middle East, and also, all the challenges posed
by Chavez and his allies.

".... The five countries that Bush will visit were picked with a
single purpose: underscoring 'a positive agenda' based on 'hope',
said A/S Shannon during his hearing in Congress last Thursday.

".... Bush will try to reinforce this agenda today with a speech at
the Wilson Center, focusing on social development in the region
within democratic institutions and everything the U.S. has to offer,
such as the bio-fuels partnership with Brazil.

".... Argentina won't be part of the tour. 'We knew there might be
claims, but we had no other choice,' said a USG source. The Bush
administration views President Kirchner as a distant figure, who
didn't invite Bush to Buenos Aires, but doesn't want to break all
its ties, even though Chavez will hold his Bolivarian rally in

".... Washington's first goal in this regional tour is to reinforce
ties with their governments. With Brazil, the U.S. will nail down a
partnership on biofuels; with Uruguay it will strengthen trade ties;
in Colombia it will endorse the fight against drug-traffickers,
paramilitary and guerrillas; in Guatemala, it will compensate the
government after helping them defeat Venezuela in the fight for a
UNSC seat, and in Mexico, it will try to develop the South and
reinforce security in the North of the country.

"But in Washington's opinion, the most important role for the White
House will be to send 'gestures of interest' to people in those
countries. 'The trip is a matter of diplomatic presence in the
region. The Bush administration has been accused in Washington of
failing in Latin America, of ignoring it and, with this trip, it
wants to say it cares,' said the Executive Director of the Council
of Hemispheric Affairs, Larry Birns...."

- "Bush and Chavez Assess Forces in Their Latam Tours"

Business-financial BAE says (03/05) "Bush will kick off his tour in
Brazil, after conceding he 'abandoned' the U.S. back yard in the
past years, which led to a strong anti-U.S. sentiment due to
Washington's foreign policy; and all this, in the framework of many
countries moving away from the neo-Liberal economic model advanced
by the White House.

"At the same time, Chavez, who maintains a strong dialectical
confrontation with Bush, will visit those countries that were left
out of the U.S. President's agenda: Argentina and Bolivia, with
which he maintains strong cooperation on an issue that's attracting
Bush to the region: energy.

"With these trips, each one will try generating new areas of
cooperation or reinforcing the existing one. These past weeks, and
in the wake of Bush's imminent regional tour, the White House kept
silent on critical comments coming from the region, and particularly
those from Chavez.

"But this silence only tries to avoid disturbing waters before
landing in Latam. According to a Brazilian daily, Bush is 'obsessed'
with Chavez, whom he believes is more dangerous than Fidel Castro,
because 'he conquers with money what the Cuban conquered with

"In this context, the underlying goal of Bush's trip will be to
recover presence in the region. But in practice, he will sign energy
and trade deals...."

- "Chavez' Rally Will Cost 600,000 Pesos"

Mariano Obarrio, daily-of-record "La Nacion" political columnist

writes (03/04) "Social movements, picketers and Venezuelan military
chiefs finalized the details of the anti-Bush rally that will be
headed by Chavez on Friday, at 6 pm., at a soccer stadium, and
agreed that the 600,000 pesos needed for its organization will be
controlled by the Kirchner administration, which was unable to
impose its idea of doing it in a smaller venue.

".... According to high GOA sources, Kirchner wanted to reduce the
controversial rally to 6,000 people, in order to exercise more
control on the attendees.

"The anti-Bush rally sparked strong annoyance within the USG and the
Jewish community, at odds with Venezuela, with whom Kirchner tried
to maintain a difficult balance.

"Finally, the Bolivarian leader will address an audience of 40,000
people. Around 300 Venezuelan military will be in charge of the
rally's security and pro-Kirchner picketers will assign 1,000 of
their men to mingle with the crowd in prevention of clashes.

".... Chavez's speech will strongly criticize Bush on the same day
he's in Uruguay, meeting with Tabare. The U.S. was concerned by
Kirchner's gesture, but the USG clarified that bilateral relations
are good on the issue of cooperation in the fight against
drug-trafficking and terrorism.

"According to a high GOA source, 'Kirchner and Chavez' idea was,
since the beginning, to send a strong gesture of rejection of Bush's
regional tour', and the bottom-line of the message will be 'Welcome
Chavez, for Latam unity. Bush, out!"

"And a social leader said 'Chavez' 300 military will try to
counteract the 1,200 men that Bush will bring to Uruguay'...."

- "U.S. Drastic U-turn: Iran Confirms There Have Been Contacts"

Ana Baron, leading "Clarin" Washington-based correspondent, opines
(03/04) ".... Even though the White House has been denying all sorts
of contacts with Iran, FM spokesman Hosseini assured that the U.S.
tried 'through several channels' to establish direct dialogue with
Tehran precisely on Iraq's security. Hosseini added that Iran is
analyzing Washington's proposals.

"Allegedly, one of those channels is former President Rafsanjani,
who is exercising growing influence in Tehran, according to former
Arab League representative at the UN Clovis Maksoud.

".... With the inclusion of Iran and Syria at the March 10 summit in
Baghdad, announced by Secretary Rice, the White House confirms its
determination to sit at a negotiating table with these two
countries, when only a couple of weeks ago it had rejected such

"What's the reason for this U-turn? What will be its range?

"According to Maksoud, it's an attempt to include the focus of the
Baker report on Iraq, without really implementing it. It's also an
acknowledgement that he no longer has the liberty he had before the
Democrats recovered the majority in Congress.

"The U-turn began with the appointment of a member of that group -
Robert Gates - as Secretary of Defense... And the first evidence of
this change was the nuclear agreement with North Korea...."

- "Hawks"

Marcelo Cantelmi, leading "Clarin" international editor, opines
(03/04) "...George W. Bush and Mahmud Almadinejah have a lot in
common and so will have their political fate. Both have lost the
support of their government structures... In the case of Iran, it's
hard to tell how Ahmadinejad will survive without the iron-clad
back-up of the supreme leadership. Like Bush, he will experience a
drastic U-turn towards a diplomatic way out, viewed more like a last
resort than a victory. Only their enemies will benefit from that
change. But if this is good news, reality isn't as good. Their
situation is so complex that it seems too little and too late a move
to succeed..."

- "Iran Agrees to Negotiate, but Imposes Conditions on U.S."

Leading "Clarin" says (03/05) "Iran's regime reiterated yesterday
that the U.S. did in fact propose direct dialogue during the
regional conference on Iraq that will take place next weekend in
Baghdad, but made clear that, for now, those contacts will take
place within a multilateral meeting. According to Iranian FM
spokesman Hosseini, his government doesn't plan to hold face-to-face
talks with Washington.

"The official said Tehran is analyzing U.S. proposals of direct
talks, but so far, the issue is not on Iran's agenda...."


- "Iran vs. International Community"

An editorial in daily-of-record "La Nacion" reads (03/03) "Despite
serious warnings by the UNSC, Iran continued with its nuclear
program. This leads us to think that a confrontation with the
international community might be inevitable.

".... The five permanent members of the UNSC, plus Germany, are
actively discussing the possible sanctions they may impose on a
country that refuses to abide by UN charter obligations. Given that
Russia and China are reluctant to impose these sanctions, due to
their close trade ties with Iran, the task won't be easy.

"In this context, it's not hard to witness some 'war games', as well
as all kinds of warnings converging on Iran, which are also
disturbing for all, given that a new conflict in the Gulf might lead
to a global crisis of absolutely unforeseeable consequences.

".... This is why the positive response to the recent request by
Iraq of a regional conference aimed at designing a policy to put an
end to the sectarian civil war that is ravaging the country, sheds a
light of hope. This is an opportunity for diplomatic dialogue
between Iran and the international community that ought to be
expanded, rather than overlooked.

".... With realism, the U.S. seems to have decided, similarly to
what took place with the North Korean crisis, to give another chance
to diplomatic dialogue with third party States. This is an
instrument without which, it's always difficult to eradicate

To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our
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