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Cablegate: Deputy Chief of Mission's June 24, 2008, Meeting

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000698

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FOR WHA/AND, ALSO FOR USOAS AND EUR/WE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/24/2018
TAGS: PREL PTER CO VE SP
SUBJECT: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION'S JUNE 24, 2008, MEETING
WITH FM MORATINOS' C...


id: 159454
date: 6/24/2008 15:05
refid: 08MADRID698
origin: Embassy Madrid
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination:
header:
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RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMD #0698/01 1761505
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 241505Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4985
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 5360
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1299
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1420

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000698

SIPDIS

FOR WHA/AND, ALSO FOR USOAS AND EUR/WE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/24/2018
TAGS: PREL PTER CO VE SP
SUBJECT: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION'S JUNE 24, 2008, MEETING
WITH FM MORATINOS' CHIEF OF STAFF JAVIER SANCHO

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION HUGO LLORENS, REASONS 1.4(B)(D).

1. (C) Summary. Deputy Chief of Mission Hugo Llorens met
June 24, 2008, with FM Moratinos' Chief of Staff (and Spain's
next Ambassador to the OAS) Javier Sancho. Sancho provided a
readout on Moratinos' recent visit to Venezuela and Colombia.
In Venezuela, Moratinos continued efforts to repair strained
relations with Venezuela and discussed a possible visit by
President Chavez to Spain. Sancho detected a more
constructive tone from Chavez and FM Maduro when it came to
Colombia and the FARC. In Colombia, Moratinos met with
President Uribe and discussed a still confidential plan to
put a Spanish radar in Ecuador to cover the border region.
The DCM urged that as Spain mended fences with Venezuela, it
continue to be attentive to efforts to erode democratic
institutions there and any attempts by Venezuela to acquire
more arms. End summary.

Venezuela
---------

2. (C) Sancho described Moratinos' June 16-18 visit to
Venezuela and Colombia as intense. In Venezuela, Moratinos
had meetings with both Chavez and Maduro. Sancho emphasized
that conversations in Venezuela were focused almost entirely
on bilateral issues, including the situation of Spanish
businesses and Spanish citizens resident in Venezuela.
Sancho said Spain was trying to patch up relations with
Venezuela following the tense exchange between the King of
Spain and Chavez at the Iberoamerican Summit in November
2007. He noted that at the EU-Latam Summit in Lima in May,
it was agreed that the foreign ministers would follow-up,
hence Moratinos' visit to Venezuela. Sancho emphasized the
rapprochement had the full blessing of King Juan Carlos.
Sancho said the Venezuelans seemed to be focusing on the
future and welcomed an improved dialogue with Spain. He said
Chavez' tone was more conciliatory than in the past, and he
emphasized his regard for Spain. The idea now was for Chavez
to visit Spain, perhaps in July to attend the Zaragoza
exposition. Sancho emphasized no date was set, and said he
had personal doubts as to whether Chavez would come. He said
Chavez would have to measure his steps carefully in terms of
the Spanish public reaction to such a visit, noting the
Spanish reaction to Chavez' entourage resplendent in their
matching red shirts might not be what Chavez would want.

3. (C) Sancho was struck by what he called a clear change in
tone from both Chavez and Maduro when speaking of the FARC.
He said both made the point that times had changed and the
path to power was through elections, not through guerrilla
warfare. Chavez expressed his admiration for Uribe and spoke
of their good personal chemistry, asking Moratinos to give
the Colombian President a hug for him. Chavez mentioned that
he and Uribe were going to meet soon, probably in July.

Colombia
--------

4. (C) Sancho said the visit to Colombia was no accident.
Moratinos realized that after visiting Venezuela it was
critical to send the right signal about Spain's continuing
regard for Colombia. Meeting Uribe in Cali, Moratinos had a
long meeting which Sancho described as excellent. He said
the bilateral portion of the agenda included immigration and
investment issues (he mentioned that all of Spain's
investment disputes in Colombia were resolved thanks to
Uribe). Moratinos asked Uribe his opinion of a plan to put a
Spanish radar in Ecuador to provide coverage along the border
with Colombia. After consulting his military experts, Uribe
said he had no objection so long as the radar was controlled
by Spanish personnel. Sancho said the radar was intended to
help remove the Ecuadorian excuse that it did not have the
means to control the border. He said the radar plan was not
public knowledge and asked that the DCM treat the information
as confidential.

5. (C) Sancho opined that Uribe's problems at the moment were
more with President Correa of Ecuador than with Chavez and
that Uribe was grateful for Spain's ability to serve as an
interlocutor with Correa. He said Uribe appreciated Spain's
role in the region and that Colombia knew full well that
Spain regarded it, along with Chile, Mexico, and Peru, as a
key country in Latin America.

6. (C) The DCM underscored the importance of both Colombia
and Uribe. He pointed out that Uribe had been a strikingly
successful president, reviving the Colombian economy,

MADRID 00000698 002 OF 002


spreading the rule of law, dramatically reducing kidnapping,
and mounting a successful campaign against the FARC which had
the narco-terrorists on the ropes. He noted Uribe's
popularity with the Colombian people and contrasted that to
Chavez' situation. The DCM said that if Chavez was adopting
a more moderate tone on the FARC, that could be merely a
tactic in response to the embarrassing information from the
Raul Reyes laptops concerning Venezuela and the FARC. He
added that while Spain might perceive a need to strike a more
positive tone in relations with Venezuela to move past last
year's public disagreements, it should be alert to any
efforts by Chavez to weaken democracy, tamper with elections,
restrict freedom of the press, limit individual rights, or
acquire more arms. Sancho quickly agreed on the arms sale
issue and assured the DCM that Spain and the U.S. were in
step on Venezuela. Sancho also mentioned that the
information Spain had seen so far on a possible FARC-ETA
connection had not been persuasive of the existence of such a
link.

Comment
-------

7. (C) Moratinos has been working for months to put the "why
don't you shut up" incident in the past. We suspect a visit
by Chavez to Spain now would probably have the opposite
effect, but there is only one way to find out. It is a
positive sign that Moratinos made a point of including
Colombia in this trip, and it underscores what the Spanish
have told us often of late about their understanding of the
importance of Colombia to the stability of the region.
AGUIRRE

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

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