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Cablegate: Argentina's Ambassador-Designate to the U.S. Terms

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2374 3541930
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201930Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9949
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1643
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002374

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OFDP PREL CJAN SNAR KJUS ASEC KCOR VE AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA'S AMBASSADOR-DESIGNATE TO THE U.S. TERMS
BILATERAL RELATIONS "POLITICALLY...VERY BAD"

REF: (A) BUENOS AIRES 2360 (B) BUENOS AIRES 2359 AND

PREVIOUS (C) BUENOS AIRES 2270

1. (SBU) Summary: Argentine media broadcast remarks critical
of the U.S. by the GOA's Ambassador-designate to Washington
(ref C), Hector Timerman, who said "politically relations
with the U.S. are very bad" because certain "sectors linked
to DOJ and U.S. intelligence agencies" were troubled by
Argentina's relationship with Venezuela. He singled out
former WHA A/S Roger Noriega as an "expert provocateur" bent
on destabilizing Latin American countries. Timerman, who is
a journalist himself, told the Ambassador that the media
coverage of his December 18 Senate confirmation hearing had
focused exclusively on his off-the-cuff remarks rather than
his prepared opening statement, in which he described
cooperation with the United States as "excellent. End
summary.

2. (SBU) The GOA's Ambassador-designate to Washington (ref
C), Hector Timerman, appeared before the Argentine Senate
December 18 and said "politically, relations with the U.S.
are very bad." Timerman's comments were broadcast on
television and radio and published in the leading newspapers.
He claimed certain "sectors" in Washington were troubled by
Argentina's relationship with Venezuela and later told
journalists those sectors were "linked to DOJ and U.S.
intelligence agencies." He said the same CIA that in the
1960s poisoned Castro's beard in hopes of emasculating him
was capable of other errors in judgment today. According to
Timerman, "Someone in Washington looked in the backyard and
did not like what he saw," including the creation of
Chavez-inspired Banco del Sur and Argentina's leadership in
the region.

3. (SBU) Timerman said it was up to the USG to make a
"gesture" to improve relations. To the press, he clarified
that the appropriate gesture would be U.S. extradition of
Antonini-Wilson, "the only person who can help solve this
mess. Timerman also referred to former WHA A/S Roger Noriega
as an "expert provocateur who has participated in the
destabilization of democratic regimes since the 1980s."

4. (SBU) At the conclusion of Timerman's Senate hearing,
opposition leader Sen. Gerardo Morales (UCR) said the GOA
"has done nothing but block the clarification of the case
involving Antonini-Wilson's suitcase with the $800,000."

5. (SBU) With reference to Timerman's assignment to
Washington, a prominent columnist in "Clarin," the largest
circulation newspaper, claimed a U.S. official in Washington
had told him the USG might let the GOA's request for
Timerman's agrement "hibernate." (The column, citing the
same unnamed source, also claimed, however, that Washington
was considering recalling Ambassador Wayne for
"consultations."

6. (SBU) In a December 19 conversation, Timerman (protect
strictly) claimed that in his prepared opening statement he
had listed several areas, such as joint efforts against
terrorism, narco-trafficking and money laundering, where
cooperation with the United States was "excellent." (The
Embassy has asked the MFA for the text of Timerman's prepared
statement, since it did not get the media play that his other
remarks did.) Timerman said he was put on the spot by a
question from a senator asking if relations with the U.S.
were good, and that he felt obliged in this public
confirmation hearing to coincide with President Kirchner's
characterizations and those of former President Nestor
Kirchner (reftels). Timerman said he was trying to reflect
the reality that, from a GOA perspective, relations now are
politically very bad.

7. (SBU) Timerman told the Ambassador he very much wanted to
work to turn the "politically bad" state of relations around.
He said he owes much to the United States, where he lived
during Argentina's last military dictatorship, and had been
asked by Cristina Kirchner to serve as ambassador
specifically to give new impetus to the relationship and to
create new opportunities. He was clearly troubled by the
current state of affairs.
WAYNE

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