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Cablegate: Chilean Ambassador to Argentina Emphasizes Positives In

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DE RUEHBU #1226 2471917
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R 031917Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1937
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001226

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ECON CI AR
SUBJECT: Chilean Ambassador to Argentina Emphasizes Positives in
Regional Political Coordination

1. (U) Chilean Ambassador Luis Mairre Aguirre met with Ambassador
Wayne August 15, the first formal meeting between them. Mairre has
been Ambassador since July of 2004 when he was appointed by former
President Lagos. The former political exile, Minister, Ambassador
to Mexico, and Socialist party official was cordial and forthcoming,
clearly identifying joint interests with the USG and sharing
perspectives on Argentina.

South American Integration
--------------------------

2. (SBU) Mairre discussed the proposal by Ecuadoran President Correa
that ex-President Nestor Kirchner (NK) assume the Presidency of the
South American Union (UNASUR), succeeding pro-tempore President
Bachelet. He said he thought the Kirchner candidacy made sense as a
way to gain Argentine buy-in to the project, and also worked
politically for the Kirchners as a way to lower NK's domestic
profile. Mairre touched on the South American Defense Council,
noting that it was not meant to supplant the role of the
Inter-American Defense Council, but that it could facilitate common
South American responses to shared security challenges, including
international crime and drug trafficking. He suggested that, in a
crisis such as that brought on by Colombia's strike against the FARC
base in Ecuadoran territory, a South American Defense Council might
have helped to diminish tensions and encourage communications.
Ambassador Wayne said that the USG had no objection to such a role
and that our main concern was that its processes be transparent to
outsiders and that it not undermine the participants' commitment to
the OAS structures.

3. (SBU) Mairre further suggested that the Defense Council sprang
from a post-9/11 impression in the region that the U.S. security
focus was very much on Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean,
and that threats falling outside of that frontier might not get the
same attention.

U.S.-Latin American Understanding
---------------------------------

4. (U) Mairre spoke proudly of his work while in exile in Mexico at
the Center for Investigation and Economic Teaching (CIDE), building
relationships between Latin American and U.S. academics. Ambassador
Wayne described a similar and central part of his job as improving
understanding of the United States among Argentines. Mairre also
described Chile's longstanding and continuing efforts to build
economic and social ties to California, based in part on the large
number of Chileans who have studied at California's universities.

Economic Relationship
---------------------

5. (SBU) Ambassador Mairre said that Chile's economic relationship
with Argentina was its most important, with what he said were $15
billion in Chilean investments in Argentina, but that it was now
growing more slowly than Chilean ties to Brazil and Peru. He said
that the lack of judicial security was the primary reason for slower
growth in investments in Argentina. Argentine had a history of not
observing its policy and business commitments. Still, both
countries were looking to improve the trans-Andean infrastructure,
and Chile hoped to make it easier for Argentine exporters to reach
Asian markets via Chilean ports. Chile in particular hoped to
develop Coquimbo as a port for Cordoba, Santa Fe and even Entre
Rios, which he said could cut two weeks of shipping time for
products compared to departures from Argentine ports.

WAYNE

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