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Cablegate: Nicaragua Sofa: Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Barely

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #1109/01 2411246
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 281246Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3103
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA IMMEDIATE 1976
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL//J2/J3/J5// IMMEDIATE
RUEADWD/DA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUENAAA/SECNAV WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCJAAA/USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
RHBVNKP/USS KEARSARGE IMMEDIATE
RULYEGA/COMPHIBRON EIGHT IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS MANAGUA 001109

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/PPC AND WHA/CEN KRAAIMOORE
DEPT FOR PM/SNA DETEMPLE
DEPT FOR L/PM HEROLD AND L/T COOK
OSD FOR EARLE
SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD AND JAG
KEARSARGE FOR COMMODORE PONDS AND JAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR MOPS PREL KTIA NU
SUBJECT: NICARAGUA SOFA: SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED (BARELY
IN TIME)

REF: A. SECSTATE 69341
B. MANAGUA 515
C. STATE 2677

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. On August 8, 2008 we delivered to the
Government of Nicaragua (GON) the final draft version of the
diplomatic note regarding the Status of Forces Agreement
(SOFA) and the accompanying note regarding customs clearance
procedures. Later that same day, the GON responded
affirmatively and sent back a diplomatic note indicating its
acceptance of both our notes. The conclusion of this SOFA
letter process came, literally, on the eve of the arrival of
the USS KEARSARGE to Puerto Cabezas as part of Operation
Continuing Promise, which was the final major activity of the
Milgroup program year (FY08). The full text of both notes
appear in paras 3 and 4 below. We will email pdf copies of
all four notes (U.S. originals plus GON replies) to L/T,
WHA/CEN and PM/SNA. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) COMMENT. Throughout this process, at each meeting
with our GON counterparts we have raised the possibility of
securing a longer-term bilateral SOFA agreement per REF C.
If while the GON initially expressed reservations, it did not
reject the idea out of hand. Now that we have concluded this
one-year agreement (virtually at the end of the one-year
term), we believe that we may now be able to approach the GON
about a multi-year arrangement. We propose a two-pronged
approach for this "exploratory" phase. Using the approved
sample SOFA agreement developed by PM/SNA, we plan to
initiate a discussion with the Foreign Ministry. At the same
time, we believe it would be beneficial for WHA/CEN to invite
Nicaraguan Ambassador Arturo Cruz to a SOFA informational
briefing with PM/SNA. We believe that Cruz may see the
advantages to his government (both political and
administrative) of concluding a SOFA with the U.S. He could
be an ally in this endeavor. END COMMENT.

3. (U) BEGIN TEXT DIP NOTE ON SOFA.

No. 151

The Embassy of the United States of America presents its
compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
Republic of Nicaragua and has the honor to refer to
discussions between the Government of Nicaragua and the
Government of the United States of America regarding the
Peace Keeping Operation-North (PKO-North) exercise from June
9 to June 20, 2008; the Medical Readiness Exercise (MEDRETE)
in Cardenas from February 25 to March 16, 2008; the
humanitarian assistance visit of USS KEARSARGE to Puerto
Cabezas in August 2008; MEDRETEs in Esteli and Matagalpa
during April-May 2008; the visit of USS KAUFMAN to Corinto in
August and September 2008; U.S. Southern Command Engineers
Deployments for construction of counter-narcotics
infrastructure on different dates during 2008 at various
sites, including Bluefields, El Bluff, and Corn Island;
counter-narcotics training events at various dates and
locations; the Joint Task Force-Bravo MEDRETEs in January and
July 2008; the several Maintenance and Training Exchanges on
different dates during 2008, at various sites, as well as
other military-to-military activities in Nicaragua, as
mutually agreed, during 2008. The implementation of each of
these separate activities (hereafter referred to collectively
as 2008 operational activities) will be carried out to
further the relationship of friendship and cooperation that
exists between the Republic of Nicaragua and the United
States of America.

As part of the 2008 operational activities, the Embassy
proposes that United States military and civilian personnel
(defined as members of the United States Armed Forces and
civilian employees of the United States Department of
Defense, respectively, hereafter referred to collectively as
United States personnel) present in Nicaragua in connection
with the 2008 operational activities be accorded treatment
equivalent to that accorded to the administrative and
technical staff of the Embassy of the United States of
America under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
of April 18, 1961; that United States personnel be permitted
to enter and exit Nicaragua with United States identification
and with collective movement or individual travel orders (in
advance of each of the 2008 operational activities the United
States will provide a list of the names of personnel who are
expected to be present in conjunction with said activity);
and that Nicaraguan Authorities shall accept as valid,
without a driving fee or test, valid, unexpired driving
licenses or permits issued by the appropriate authorities in
the United States to United States personnel for the
operation of vehicles, that such personnel be authorized to
wear uniforms while performing official duties in Nicaragua,
and to carry weapons as agreed to by both Governments.

The Embassy also proposes that the Government of the
Republic of Nicaragua accord duty-free importation and
exportation, as well as exemption from inspections and
taxation on products, property, material, and equipment,
imported into, acquired in or exported from Nicaragua by or
on behalf of the United States Government or its personnel in
connection with the 2008 operational activities; and that the
Parties shall cooperate in taking such steps as shall be
necessary to ensure the security of United States personnel
and property in Nicaragua. The Embassy further proposes
vehicles, vessels, and aircraft owned or operated by or for
the United States Armed Forces shall not be subject to the
payment of landing or port fees, pilotage charges,
navigation, overflight, or parking charges or lighterage or
harbor dues while in Nicaragua; however, the United States
Armed Forces shall pay reasonable charges for services
requested and received.

Vehicles owned by the United States need not be
registered, but shall have appropriate identification
markings.

The Government of Nicaragua shall accept as valid
professional licenses issued by the appropriate government
authorities in the United States to United States personnel.

Title to United States Government Property (such as
equipment, material, supplies, and other property) imported
into or acquired in Nicaragua by or on behalf of the United
States Department of Defense in connection with the 2008
operational activities shall remain with the United States
Department of Defense, which may remove such property from
Nicaragua at any time, free from export duties, taxes, and
other charges. The exemption provided in this paragraph
shall also extend to any duty, tax, or other charge that is
assessed upon such property after importation into or
acquisition in Nicaragua. United States Armed Forces and
United States personnel property may be removed from
Nicaragua, or disposed therein, provided that disposition of
such property in Nicaragua to persons or entities not
entitled to exemption from applicable taxes or duties shall
be subject to payment of such taxes and duties by such
persons or entities.

It shall be the responsibility of United States
personnel to respect the laws of Nicaragua and to abstain
from any activity inconsistent with the spirit of the 2008
operational activities. Authorities of the Government of the
United States shall take necessary measures to that end.
Nicaraguan and United States military police investigators
shall cooperate in the investigation of any crime believed to
have been committed by or against United States personnel.

The Embassy proposes that both governments shall waive
any and all claims (other than contractual claims) against
each other for personal injury to or death of their military
or civilian personnel, or for damage, loss, or destruction of
property arising out of the 2008 operational activities.

The United States Government shall pay, in accordance
with United States law, fair and reasonable compensation in
settlement of meritorious claims by third parties arising out
of acts or omissions of United States personnel or that is
otherwise in connection with activities of the United States
Armed Forces under this Agreement.

In the event that agreed activities involve the use of
contractors, the United States Department of Defense may
award contracts for the acquisition of articles and services
in accordance with United States law and regulations. The
United States Department of Defense shall have the right to
choose such contractors, and such contractors and their
employees who are foreigners or non-nationals of Nicaragua
shall be accorded the same privileges as United States
personnel with regard to licensing and registration of
vehicles, drivers, and professional personnel; and with
regard to the export, import, and acquisition of goods and
equipment for official or personal use.

The United States Armed Forces and United States
personnel may use water, electricity, and other public
services and facilities, for which the Government of
Nicaragua will assist the United States authorities in taking
measures to obtain such services from the institutions and
corresponding offices, for the appropriate development of the
aforementioned 2008 operational activities.

Finally, additional arrangements as may be necessary may
be entered into by the appropriate authorities of the two
governments.

If the foregoing is acceptable to the Government of the
Republic of Nicaragua, the Embassy proposes that this Note,
together with the Ministry's reply to that effect, shall
constitute an agreement between the two governments, which
shall enter into force on the date of the Ministry's reply,
and shall remain in effect for the duration of the 2008
operational activities.

The Embassy of the United States of America avails
itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs the assurances of its highest consideration.


Embassy of the United States of America,
Managua, August 8, 2008.

END TEXT DIP NOTE ON SOFA.

4. (U) BEGIN TEXT OF DIP NOTE ON CUSTOMS PROCEDURES.

No. 152

The Embassy of the United States of America presents its
compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the
Republic of Nicaragua and has the honor to refer to
discussions between the Government of Nicaragua and the
Government of the United States of America regarding
procedures related to customs issues in reference to
activities described in Diplomatic Note No. 151.

The military-to-military activities in Nicaragua
scheduled for 2008, as mutually agreed in Diplomatic Note No.
151 of August 8, 2008, will be carried out to further the
relationship of friendship and cooperation that exists
between the Republic of Nicaragua and the United States of
America.

In support of these military activities, the Embassy of
the United States will assume responsibility for coordinating
the duty-free importation and exportation of products,
property, materiel, and equipment, imported into, acquired in
or exported from Nicaragua by or on behalf of the United
States Government or its personnel in connection with the
2008 operational activities, by means of duty-free permits,
and/or as appropriate, through permits (franquicias) or a
duty-free &Provisional Importation Certificate,8 granted in
the name of the Mission. The Embassy has in place procedures
to ensure our ability to carry out this responsibility.

The Embassy also reaffirms the agreement of Diplomatic
Note No. 151 in which the Government of the Republic of
Nicaragua will accord duty-free importation and exportation,
as well as exemption from inspections and taxation on
products, property, material, and equipment, imported into,
acquired in or exported from Nicaragua by or on behalf of the
United States Government or its personnel in connection with
the 2008 operational activities.

If the foregoing is acceptable to the Government of the
Republic of Nicaragua, the Embassy proposes that this Note,
together with the Ministry's reply to that effect, shall
constitute an agreement between the two Governments, which
shall enter into force on the date of the Ministry's reply,
and shall remain in effect for the duration of the 2008
operational activities.

The Embassy of the United States of America avails
itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs the assurances of its highest consideration.

Embassy of the United States of America,
Managua, August 8, 2008.

END TEXT OF NOTE ON CUSTOMS PROCEDURES.

5. (U) Embassy Managua POC for this issue is Deputy Pol
Counselor/Pol-Mil officer, Jesse Curtis. Contact
information: CurtisJS@state.gov; CurtisJS@state.sgov.gov;
TEL: 011-505-252-7128 (office) 011-505-920-1579 (cell).

CALLAHAN

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