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Cablegate: Ambassador's Meeting with President Correa

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DE RUEHQT #0247/01 0722058
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 122058Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8611
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7434
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 3862
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0755
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RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 2477
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RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

id: 145522
date: 3/12/2008 20:58
refid: 08QUITO247
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 08QUITO216|08QUITO228
header:
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #0247/01 0722058
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 122058Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8611
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 7434
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 3862
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0755
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2942
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ MAR LIMA 2477
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA 0495
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 3076
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 3394
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC


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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 000247

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/12/2028
TAGS: PREL PTER MARR EC CO VE
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH PRESIDENT CORREA

REF: A. QUITO 216
B. QUITO 228

Classified By: Ambassador Linda Jewell for reasons 1.4 (d).

1. (C) Summary: Meeting with the Ambassador on March 12,
President Correa made clear that he wanted to continue
working with the United States, including in Ecuador's
northern border region. He again vehemently denied an
inappropriate relationship with the FARC, saying that would
not be in his interest. The Ambassador offered assurances
that the Manta FOL was not involved in supporting the
Colombian incursion and provided information on the Embraer
Super Tucano to dispel suggestions it was not capable of
carrying out the Colombian operation. Correa was unsure what
to expect out of the March 17 OAS ministerial meeting. (End
Summary)

2. (C) President Correa quickly responded to the
Ambassador's request for a meeting, scheduling it for 12:30
pm March 12, his first day back in the office following his
Chile trip. The meeting was one-on-one. Correa appeared
more relaxed than he had at their March 3 meeting (Ref A).
The Ambassador told Correa she was there to see where we are
and what type of relationship with the United States he
wanted going forward. She pointed out that many in his
Administration are waiting for a signal from Correa on how to
treat the United States.

3. (C) Correa assured her that he wanted to continue working
with the United States, noting that he likes the U.S. and has
many ties with us. However, he reiterated his disappointment
in the USG stance on the Colombian incursion. Specifically,
Correa expressed concern about continued Department comments
on Ecuador's relationship with the FARC. He again vehemently
denied any inappropriate relationship, saying that he had
never met a FARC member and that there would be no benefit
for him in establishing such a relationship. Correa said it
was not that he was tolerating the FARC or letting it stay in
Ecuador, nor had he ever thought of inviting the FARC
Secretariat to Quito. He stressed that such actions would

SIPDIS
not be in his interest. Correa recognized that the FARC was
at war with the democratically-elected government of
Colombia, and that it could well come after his government
next. Correa said he wanted to continue working with the
U.S. in the Northern Border region, and lamented the limits
to the resources and personnel Ecuador could afford. He
cited the pathetic, even humiliating, fact that the
Ecuadorian army did not have a working helicopter to quickly
mobilize to the scene, and that the radar system for the zone
was inoperable.

4. (C) Correa criticized Colombia, saying he could never
sanction the execution of wounded individuals, as he believed
the Colombian military did in the Reyes camp. He expressed
appreciation for Chavez' solidarity, but emphasized that "we
(Ecuadorians) are different ('somos otra cosa.')" Asked what
he expected from the OAS ministerial, Correa was uncertain
what would come out of it.

5. (C) Correa said the problem for him was that it was
difficult for him to prove a negative, that he had no ties
with the FARC. The Ambassador said we have the same problem
with proving that the Forward Operating Location (FOL) in
Manta had nothing to do with the Colombian military
operation. She provided information showing that Colombia's
Super Tucano aircraft, with modifications, could have
accomplished the Colombian attack. Correa promised to share
the info with the OAS since he had suggested to the
delegation, based on reports from his own staff, that the
Colombian aircraft would not have been capable.

6. (S) Comment: Correa was clearly still unhappy with the
USG. However, he did not sound like he was ready to give up
on a constructive relationship with us, and seemed to
appreciate the Ambassador asking to see him. He said he
favored FM Salvador having a meeting with the Deputy
Secretary on the margins of next week,s OAS ministerial, if

SIPDIS
it could be arranged. Correa's denial of an inappropriate
relationship with the FARC appeared sincere. It is unclear
to us whether Correa knew everything that Minister Larrea put
on the table in his discussions with the FARC, or whether
Larrea might have been pursuing, at least in part, a personal
agenda. Winners and losers among Correa's jockeying inner
circle of advisors in the wake of this event remain to seen,
as well as possible broader internal policy and personnel
fallout. Correa,s actions in the coming days are likely to
be telling.
Jewell

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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