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Cablegate: President Cristina Kirchner On Bilateral Relations

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0519/01 1131604
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 221604Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0840
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1787
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1735
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ APR PORT AU PRINCE 0148
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 000519

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/15/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON EINV EPET KPAO KCOR MARR VZ
AR, CO, HA, BL
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT CRISTINA KIRCHNER ON BILATERAL RELATIONS
AND REGIONAL ISSUES

Classified By: Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne for reasons
1.4 (B) and (D).

1. (C) Summary. In a very friendly April 10 meeting,
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK)
indicated great pleasure at the warm reception which
President Bush had given Argentina's new Ambassador and
expressed support for the vision of U.S. policy in the region
described by A/S Shannon. CFK said she was deeply moved by
the situation in Haiti. She agreed that the Organization of
American States (OAS) could play a very useful role in
helping to
avoid crisis in Bolivia. Regarding Colombia, she argued
persistently that the USG should support an effort to secure
the
humanitarian release of hostage Ingrid Betancourt. A/S
Shannon
explained U.S. efforts to find some areas in which to work
with
Venezuela but without success. CFK said she would raise this
with Chavez as she supported efforts to lower tensions.
Finally, CFK expressed her support for dialogue with U.S.
companies with the goal of bringing more investment to
Argentina. End summary.

2. (C) Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
(CFK) met with A/S Thomas Shannon on the afternoon of April
10 for about 90 minutes. Chief Cabinet Minister Alberto
Fernandez (AF), Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana,
Ambassador to Washington Hector Timerman and Ambassador
Wayne were present. After welcoming remarks, Ambassador
Timerman described in glowing terms the presentation of his
credentials to President Bush on April 9. Timerman
expressed great pleasure with the warm reception that he
had received, and CFK said she was very happy with
President Bush's warmth and that Timerman was now fully
empowered to carry out his mission in Washington.

Relations with Latin America and Argentina
------------------------------------------

3. (C) A/S Shannon explained the work done and ongoing by
the Bush administration to assure that the new U.S. President
has a good set of relations in place with Latin America in
January 2009, and that the USG and countries in the region
are working well in partnership to find solutions to
important problems. He noted the U.S. priority on ensuring
that
the region is at peace, that democracy is flourishing, and
that economic growth continues and proceeds in ways that
include the poorest sectors of society. This is not an
anti-Chavez or anti-Cuba agenda, but a pro-democracy,
pro-growth, and pro-social justice agenda built on good
dialogue
and partnership. CFK said she fully supports such a
vision and especially the focus on showing that democracy
can bring jobs and a better life to the poorest members of
society. The message of caring for the needs of all the
people is right on the mark. She said we need mechanisms
that can avoid conflict, strengthen democracy, and provide
civilized ways of solving problems. She noted her belief
that the dollar would strengthen again and the U.S. economy
would recover, allowing the U.S. to play a strong role in the
economic development of the region. In passing, she said
that French president Sarkozy had been very concerned about
the over-valued Euro when she met him earlier in the week.

4. (C) A/S Shannon said that during his visit, he and
Foreign Minister Taiana would announce April 11 the
revival of a dormant mechanism for high-level dialogue
that which would bring structure and continuity to our
bilateral relations. The State Department and the MFA
would coordinate the dialogue, but many other
ministries would be involved as we would cover issues
from science and technology cooperation to Argentina's
peacekeeping role. CFK expressed her support for this
endeavor.

Haiti
-----

5. (C) Focusing on the peacekeeping theme, CFK recounted
her stark impressions from her recent visit to Haiti. She
said she had never seen such a situation with no productive
investment, horrible living conditions, and thousands of
people
just doing nothing. She said she understood unemployment to
be
about 60%. It is clear that the Argentine mission has
important
work to do, but clearly Haiti needs investment and aid, she
said.
Repeating that she ""had never seen anything like it,"" CFK
said
that she had raised this with President Preval as well as
talking
about the need to build justice and police capacity. FM
Taiana added that Argentina would like to help in these two
areas. CFK said she had discussed the situation with
Chilean President Bachelet and agreed fully with her
observations. A/S Shannon described the U.S. assistance
effort, including trade measures to help Haiti's
textile industry. He noted the importance of the upcoming
donors meeting, especially given food riots. CFK added
that she had been shocked to see how little electricity was
available and the very limited lighting in people's homes,
and that she had been moved by seeing children in
public building entry halls under lights reading and doing
school work. A/S Shannon noted efforts underway to
transform the UN peacekeeping force into a peace-building
force, and Ambassador Timerman described the deep
appreciation in Washington for Argentina's participation in
the UN effort.

Bolivia
-------

6. (C) A/S Shannon stressed the importance of work to
manage conflicts in the rest of the hemisphere using
established institutions and norms. He described the need
to find a political solution to the tensions in Bolivia and
stressed that the U.S. wants to be a factor for stability
in that situation. CFK said it would be a catastrophe if
Bolivia were to break up, and argued that the USG can play
a key role to preserve its territorial integrity. She
stressed that in addition to concern about Bolivian
democracy, Argentina seeks stability in that country to
assure needed supplies of natural gas. She said that given
the constructive role of the OAS and the Rio Group in the
recent Colombia-Ecuador dispute, she was hopeful that those
institutions can encourage a solution in Bolivia. Shannon
agreed that the OAS could play a very important role and
the U.S. would support that. CFK said that if we get
through this challenge without the country breaking apart,
that success could strengthen the OAS.

Colombia
--------

7. (C) A/S Shannon turned to Colombia, noting that Uribe has
two years more in office and that we were trying to move
the FTA forward, though the outcome of that effort is far
from clear at this moment. He noted that Uribe's strategy
of democratic security has produced tremendous results, and
that
Colombians are now confident of their triumph and success.
He
noted that Uribe's goal has been to use military force to
bring
the FARC to the negotiating table. FARC efforts at
constructing
a humanitarian accord were a tentative step toward a larger
negotiation. However, lack of confidence on both sides and
serious mis-steps by Hugo Chavez had ended this possibility
for
the moment. CFK urged the USG to be more vigorous in its
support
of a humanitarian release of hostages. Shannon said that we
do
support efforts for humanitarian releases, but only in
support of
the GOC. CFK recounted her December 11 conversation with
President Uribe where she found him very skeptical about the
release of Ingrid Betancourt and others. She argued that
FARC
nevertheless released six hostages since and has lost two of
its
Secretariat members. ""It is no wonder they don't want to

SIPDIS
release
more hostages now,"" she said. CFK said she admired Uribe's
life history and conviction, but ""it seems to me that a
humanitarian exchange would be of benefit."" She argued that
Betancourt's death would be a ""disaster"" that would hurt
Uribe's
image in Europe and the U.S. and benefit the FARC. CFK said
she
thought support for an effort to liberate Betancourt could
help Uribe's image and might even spark some progress in
the broader conflict or win more releases. She added that
she did not want to see the difficulties between Colombia
and Ecuador or Colombia and Venezuela worsen, and a gesture
could help ease tensions. A/S Shannon said we agree with
the principle of a humanitarian release, but the
involvement of President Chavez was letting the FARC think
that they have additional leverage on the situation.
Chavez has been too impatient in his efforts. CFK said it
would probably take some time to reestablish contacts with
the FARC at present, but again argued that it would be
worth the effort for the U.S. to support a humanitarian
release.

Venezuela
---------

8. (C) A/S Shannon described his several efforts to
reestablish a dialogue and better relations with
Venezuela. But to date, Venezuela has not been interested.
Shannon noted U.S. efforts to focus cooperation on stopping
drug trafficking, but even there the GOV just wasn't
interested. He argued that Chavez' anti-American diatribes
were creating a firm bi-partisan consensus against him in the
United States. CFK said that she talks to Chavez fairly
regularly and had talked to him twice in recent days,
including a
discussion about his decision to nationalize an
Argentine-owned
steel plant (Sidor) and about the chances for a hostage
release.
She said she could mention U.S. efforts to reestablish
contacts
to him when they talked again. She said one has to accept
the
workings of a ""Caribbean mentality"" in dealing with Chavez
and
suggested that perhaps the United States and Venezuela could
agree on some second-level ways to improve relations.
Shannon
said he knows Chavez from his service in Venezuela, and that
he
fears Chavez is now using his anti-Americanism as a way to
support his popularity at home, which makes him hesitant to
be seen to cooperate in any way. CFK said she would
mention this topic the next time she talks with Chavez, as
she believes it is important to lower tensions and
eliminate polarization.

Investment Climate
------------------

9. (C) A/S Shannon said that in the bilateral relationship
we hoped to deepen cooperation in foreign policy, science
and technology, and economic relations, especially via more
economic interaction. CFK said she agreed and noted how
happy she was with her meeting the day before with the CEO
of U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer. The CEO had promised
to invest millions of dollars in research on Parkinson's
disease in Argentina. Science Minister Baranao had told
her that other U.S. firms are interested in doing more
research
and development in Argentina. She said she hoped this
would include investment in the agriculture and food
fields, and would happily meet with any CEO interested in
investment. A/S Shannon and Ambassador Wayne said the
directors of the American Chamber of Commerce were eager to
engage with the GoA on how to encourage more investment and
that U.S. companies like Monsanto were very interested in a
new approach to working on Argentina. Alberto Fernandez said
he
had agreed to have a lunch soon with the Amcham to discuss
these issues. CFK said she really seeks more investment
and is happy to discuss with company executives what can
bring that about.

10. (U) WHA A/S Thomas Shannon cleared this cable.
WAYNE

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