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Cablegate: Assistant Secretary Shannon's July 7 Meeting With

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/10/2018
TAGS: EAID ECIN PGOV PREF PTER MARR SNAR KJUS CO
VE, BR, BL, EC
SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHANNON'S JULY 7 MEETING WITH
PRESIDENT URIBE

Classified By: Ambassador William R. Brownfield
Reason: 1.4 (b) and (d)

-------
SUMMARY
-------
1. (C) Assistant Secretary Shannon conveyed President Bush's
gratitude to President Uribe for the Colombian military's
successful rescue of the three U.S. and twelve Colombian
hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC). The operation reflects the transformation that has
occurred in Colombia under Uribe's leadership. Uribe said
the GOC remains committed to boosting the military pressure
on FARC and National Liberation Army (ELN) senior leaders.
The GOC is ready to seek direct contact with the FARC, but is
not optimistic about the results. Uribe said he will ask for
Venezuelan cooperation to arrest FARC leaders residing in
Venezuela in his July 11 meeting with President Chavez, but
expects few results. He agreed with Shannon's request that
the GOC work with the United States to raise the political
cost paid by Chavez for his support to the FARC. Uribe asked
Shannon to pass on to the U.S. Congress that passage of the
Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement would help Colombia deal
with its current economic difficulties, and voiced interest
in concluding an agreement on a Cooperative Security Location
(CSL) in Colombia as soon as possible. End Summary

2. (U) Assistant Secretary Thomas Shannon, Commander, Special
Operations Command South, Brigadier General Charles
Cleveland, Ambassador William R. Brownfield, Colonel Gregory
Wilson, and Polcouns (notetaker) met on July 7 with President
Alvaro Uribe, Armed Forces Commander General Freddy Padilla,
Army Commander General Mario Montoya, Vice Foreign Minister
Camilo Reyes, presidential Private Secretary Alicia Arango,
and presidential Communications Director Jorge Mario Eastman
at the Casa de Narino.

------------------------------------------
United States Proud to be Ally of Colombia
------------------------------------------
3. (U) A/S Shannon conveyed President Bush's and Secretary
Rice's gratitude for Colombia's successful rescue of the
three American hostages held by the FARC, as well as Ingrid
Betancourt and eleven Colombian security personnel. The
remarkable operation reflected the transformation which has
occurred in Colombia under Uribe's leadership. The United
States is proud to have Colombia as an ally. Uribe thanked
Shannon for his remarks, and said U.S. assistance was crucial
in upgrading the Colombian military's capacity to conduct
such operations. He singled out Ambassador Brownfield for
special praise, noting that the Ambassador's support for the
operation had encouraged him to proceed with the mission.

-----------------------------------------
Need to Maintain Pressure on FARC and ELN
-----------------------------------------
4. (C) Uribe said the GOC remains committed to maintaining
military pressure on the FARC and the ELN. The GOC is ready
to seek direct contact with the FARC, but is not optimistic
this will lead to progress on peace. Uribe said that in
reaching out to the FARC, the GOC must avoid undermining the
morale of the Colombian military. Previous Colombian
governments' attempts to engage armed groups in political
dialogue had weakened the military's resolve. His main
contribution has been to reassure the military that their
efforts to defeat the FARC enjoy the GOC's complete support.
Any dialogue with the FARC must not create uncertainty within
the military about the GOC's will to continue the fight
against the group. Hence, Uribe said he could not heed
Betancourt's call to moderate his language criticizing the
group. The FARC is a terrorist group, and the world needs to
understand this.

5. (C) Uribe said the GOC has taken three decisions to boost
the pressure on the terrorist groups. First, the GOC decided
to facilitate the extradition of captured FARC commanders
"Cesar" and "Enrique Gafas" to the United States. Second, on
July 7 the GOC had informed the three European countries --
France, Spain and Switzerland -- that it was terminating
their facilitation role with the FARC. Uribe had explained
to the three countries' ambassadors that the GOC respected
their efforts, but had lost confidence in Swiss mediator Jean
Pierre Gontard and French envoy Noel Saez due to their
"suspicious links with the FARC." Lastly, Uribe said the
Colombian military would increase operations against ELN
leaders, especially Pablo Beltran and Antonio Garcia, to show
the group that it could not continue to "mock" the Colombian
people. The GOC would also continue operations targeting
FARC Secretariat members Mono Jojoy, Ivan Marquez, and
Alfonso Cano.

6. (C) Shannon said the United States understood his decision
to end the European facilitation role, and agreed on the need
to continue military action against the FARC and ELN. He
stressed that the international community should focus on
supporting Colombia's democratic state, not on acting as a
mediator in talks between the GOC and terrorist groups.
----------------------------------------
Venezuela, President Chavez and the FARC
----------------------------------------
7. (C) Uribe said he would be "prudent" in his July 11
meeting with Venezuelan President Chavez. He would reiterate
the GOC's belief that two FARC Secretariat members, Ivan
Marquez and Timochenko, reside in Venezuela and would ask for
Venezuela's help to locate and arrest them. He expected
Chavez to respond cordially, but did not believe that Chavez
would act against FARC and ELN leaders operating out of
Venezuela. Shannon said Chavez' recent comments urging the
FARC to release its kidnap victims and give up the armed
struggle, while positive, were tactical and did not reflect a
fundamental change in Venezuela's support for the group. He
said it remains important to look for ways to raise the
political cost paid by Chavez for his support to the FARC and
the ELN, and urged Colombia to coordinate closely with the
United States on Venezuelan issues.

---------------------------
Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia
---------------------------
8. (C) Shannon noted that Brazilian President Lula da Silva
would visit Colombia later in July, and urged Uribe to engage
the Brazilians more actively on bilateral and regional
issues. Shannon said his message to Brasilia had been that
Brazil's vision of an integrated South America depends on
cooperation with the dynamic economies of Colombia, Peru, and
Chile--not Venezuela and Ecuador. Brazil missed an
opportunity at the Organization of American States (OAS) in
March, when it showed more concern for abstract notions of
sovereignty than for the real security needs of 44 million
Colombians. Uribe agreed greater Colombian engagement with
Brazil would be useful, and said he had invited Lula and
Peruvian President Garcia to attend Colombia's independence
day parade in Leticia on July 20. Lula would spend the
previous day in Bogota.

9. (C) Asked by Uribe for the U.S. take on Ecuador, Shannon
said the USG continues to urge President Correa to
reestablish diplomatic ties with Bogota. Uribe's meeting
with Chavez would highlight Correa's intransigence on this
issue and make him look petty. He added that we continue to
engage the Ecuadorians, but were surprised by the depth and
level of contacts between Ecuadorian officials and the FARC
revealed in the computers seized from Raul Reyes' camp.
Colombia and the United States need to work together to make
countries pay a high prices for their links to the FARC.

10. (C) Shannon thanked Uribe for Colombia's participation
with Argentina and Brazil in the Group of Friends working to
promote a peaceful resolution to Bolivia's domestic conflict.
We especially appreciated the GOC's reminder to the Bolivian
government that it must meet its Vienna Convention obligation
to provide security for diplomatic facilities and personnel.
Vice Foreign Minister Camilo Reyes said Colombia remains
committed to the Group of Friends, but voiced concern that
the situation in Bolivia continues to deteriorate. Shannon
agreed the conflict between the lowland departments and La
Paz is deepening, and said it is important that Bolivia's
neighbors stay engaged.

--------------------------------------------- -
U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA)
--------------------------------------------- -
11. (C) Uribe said he understood the CTPA is a domestic
political issue in the United States, and will not make
public comments about the accord at this time. Still,
Colombia's economy faces growing difficulties, including
rising inflation, an appreciating peso, and falling
consumption. U.S. Congressional approval of the CTPA would
help Colombia manage these problems. The CTPA would help
Colombia attract foreign investment, boost job creation, and
generate additional resources needed to consolidate progress
against the terrorist groups. He asked Shannon to pass this
message to Congress. Shannon reiterated President Bush's
commitment to obtaining congressional passage of the CTPA,
and promised to communicate Colombia's concerns to Congress.

-----------------------------------
Cooperative Security Location (CSL)
-----------------------------------
12. (C) The Ambassador noted our interest in pursuing the
establishment of a Cooperative Security Location (CSL) in
Colombia if Ecuador does not renew our agreement on Manta.
Uribe said the GOC considers the establishment of a CSL a top
priority and hopes to conclude an agreement on such a
facility as soon as possible.
BROWNFIELD

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