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Cablegate: Spain Rolls Out Red Carpet for Andean Presidents

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMD #0083 0281409
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281409Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4143
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY 5325
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 1903

UNCLAS MADRID 000083

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA FOR A/S TOM SHANNON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN ROLLS OUT RED CARPET FOR ANDEAN PRESIDENTS

REF: A. BOGOTA 267

B. 2007 MADRID 2123

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's January
23 visit to Madrid, on the heels of the January 20 -22 visit
of Peruvian President Alan Garcia, and the warm and public
welcome extended to both by the Spanish government, send
clear messages to the rest of the world: Spain has a stake
in the future of Ibero America and will not be usurped by the
likes of Venezuelan President Chavez. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Garcia's visit, ostensibly to encourage Spanish
investment in Peru, was his first official visit since he was
re-elected President of Peru in 2006. During the course of
his stay, Garcia was received at all levels of the Spanish
government and completed an impressive program with business
leaders and media representatives, beginning with a working
breakfast sponsored by a business association. He and
Spanish President Zapatero met January 21 for about two
hours. Zapatero reportedly offered assistance through
Spain's development agency (AECI) to Peruvian literacy
programs. The two presidents gave a joint press conference,
at which Zapatero stressed the historical, cultural, and
economic bilateral relations and congratulated Garcia on his
economic and investment policies. Zapatero also offered his
government's support to accelerate negotiations between the
European Union and various Latin American regional groupings.
In support of Garcia's investment agenda, Zapatero noted
most of the big Spanish companies trust Peru. Garcia
professed to offer Spanish businesses economic stability,
legal security, and a consolidated democratic system. In
addition to President Zapatero, Garcia met with Madrid Mayor
Ruiz-Gallardon of the opposition Popular Party (PP) and with
Spanish King Juan Carlos I, who also hosted a dinner in
Garcia's honor.

3. (U) Juan Carlos also received Colombian President Alvaro
Uribe. Uribe attended the Fourth Congress of Victims of
Terrorism in Madrid and met with Spanish activist judge
Baltasar Garzon regarding Colombia's preparation of a decree,
akin to Spain's statute, to assist victims of terrorism.
President Uribe met with President Zapatero, participated in
a joint press conference with the Spanish President, and
addressed a luncheon forum organized by Europa Press. Uribe
and Zapatero signed January 23 Spain's fifth "Strategic
Association Agreement," adding Colombia to a list of Spain's
closest partners in Latin America that already includes
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. The agreement calls
for high-level bilateral meetings and a dialogue mechanism on
human rights issues. During their joint press conference,
Zapatero and Uribe stressed Spanish-Colombian friendship and
close cooperation in the shared fight against terrorism.
Zapatero noted Spain had always been on the side of Colombia
and of Uribe himself, and he confirmed the GOS was willing to
cooperate with France and Switzerland on a medical mission of
700-1000 people to look after hostages held by the FARC (ref
A). Uribe expressed enthusiasm for the reactivation of the
Europeans' cooperation mechanism to achieve the hostages'
release, adding that he would welcome any "unilateral and
unconditional" initiative by the FARC to release the hostages.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: The public highlight of Uribe's visit was
his Churchillian Europa Press luncheon speech to leaders who
represented a wide swathe of Spain's political and business
elite, including Foreign Minister Moratinos. The DCM, who
attended, described Uribe's speech, nearly 45 minutes without
notes, as "masterful." Interrupted by generous applause and
numerous standing ovations, the Colombian president conveyed
remarkable energy and passion after more than five years in
office. Though Uribe publicly deflected journalists'
attempts to draw him into a discussion of Hugo Chavez's
insults, his own outreach to European partners and stated
support of Catholic Church efforts to negotiate are seen here
as a dignified, above-board attempt to neutralize Chavez.
Spain's red-carpet reception of Presidents Garcia and Uribe,
just two months after the King's shushing of the Venezuelan
president in Santiago (ref B), sends strong signals to Latin
America and to the rest of the world that Spain considers
itself a stakeholder and will continue to claim its place at
the table and as an advocate for serious Latin American
governments in European fora.
LLORENS

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