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Cablegate: Deputy Secretary Negroponte's June 2 Meeting With

VZCZCXYZ0015
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #2063 1581716
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061716Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3083
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 8224
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 0513
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ JUN 9481
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 6247
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 1825
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6919
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4454

C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 002063

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/06/2018
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ECON PM EC CO
SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE'S JUNE 2 MEETING WITH
FOREIGN MINISTER OF PANAMA

Classified By: Political Counselor John S. Creamer

Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) Deputy Secretary Negroponte met with Panamanian
Foreign Minister Samuel Lewis Navarro June 2. Both the
Deputy and Navarro noted the U.S.-Panama relationship had
"never been stronger." Navarro said the GOP lost its last
helicopter in an accident, and requested expedited USG
assistance to assist in restoring Panamanian air mobility to
conduct counter-drug and counter-insurgency operations near
the Colombian border. He thought a solution to the
Colombian-Ecuadorian conflict was imminent, offered
Panamanian assistance in this regard, and said normalization
of relations would require both presidents to
"de-personalize" the dispute. End summary.

2. (U) Participants:

U.S.:
-----

Deputy Secretary John D. Negroponte
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Craig A. Kelly
Kelly Hapka Carrillo, note taker

Panamanian:
-----------

Foreign Minister Samuel Lewis Navarro

3. (C) Deputy Secretary Negroponte met with Panamanian FM
Samuel Lewis Navarro June 2 on the margins of the OAS General
Assembly. Navarro assured the Deputy that the expansion of
the Panama Canal--a $5 billion investment--would have no
negative environmental effects. Both the Deputy and Navarro
noted that the U.S.-Panama relationship had "never been
stronger."

4. (C) Navarro described the recent helicopter accident in
Panama which left the GOP without any operating helicopters.
He noted how the balloon effect of successful Colombian
counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency operations had
pushed the FARC and narco-traffickers over the Panamanian
border. The difficult terrain required air mobility to
prevent the trafficking of drugs, weapons and FARC activity
in the border area. He requested U.S. help in expediting
Panama's request to buy U.S. helicopters, noting that the
manufacturer is experiencing production delays.

5. (C) Navarro said Panama wanted to help lower
Ecuador-Colombia tensions without taking sides. He said the
Panamanians had participated in meetings where the Ecuadorian
and Colombian military commanders on the border discussed
cooperation. Both commanders "hated the FARC" and appeared
open to bilateral military collaboration. He said there was
too much political posturing by the presidents on both sides,
and to normalize relations the issue needed to be
"de-personalized."

6. (C) Navarro expressed concern that as FARC units started
to retreat into neighboring countries due to GOC military
operations, the FARC would splinter into autonomous fronts.
To combat multiple autonomous fronts, he said, "greater
international cooperation would be required." Although
Navarro would not agree to publicly condemn countries that
gave sanctuary to the FARC, he said Panama would continue
involvement in resolving the Colombian-Ecuador dispute. He
recommended that to mobilize international support against
the FARC, the USG should underscore that the group no longer
has ideological foundations, but is simply a group of
"narco-traffickingmafiosos."

7. (U) Cleared by D staff.
BROWNFIELD

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

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