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Cablegate: Embassy Panama Convenes Mini-Ctag

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. 03 PANAMA 1736
B. STATE 14279

1. (U) Per ref B, on February 2, Embassy's Pol Counselor, AID
Director, Econ Counselor and NAS Director met with diplomatic
representatives from G-8 countries and Spain to discuss
Panama's counterterrorism (CT) requirements and
vulnerabilities, each country's CT-related assistance to
Panama, and areas for further cooperation within CTAG.
Participants included Germany, Italy, Russia, Great Britain,
Japan, France, Canada and Spain.

Our View

2. (SBU) Pol Counselor explained that Embassy has identified
four primary areas in which Panama is vulnerable to
terrorists. (A) The Canal: The threat to the Panama Canal is
low, but it remains a highly visible potential target. (B)
Panama's ports and maritime environment: Two million
containers each year pass through Panamanian ports (and four
million containers pass through the Canal), creating
opportunities to target the United States, other countries,
or the Canal with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Another
concern is the approximately 7,000 large ships using the
Panamanian flag of convenience and the more than 400,000
Panamanian seafarers. (C) Finance: Panama's advanced
financial banking sector and weak incorporation laws are ripe
for money laundering. (D) Colombian spillover: Colombian
narco-terrorists use with impunity Panama's border region for
rest and relaxation. To address these possible threats,
Embassy described the USG's CT policy objectives in Panama,
including the push for Panama's ratification of the last of
thirteen international CT conventions, and detailed the
CT-related sustainable development (AID), law enforcement
(NAS), and security (MilGroup) assistance provided to Panama.
Each representative explained his/her country's viewpoint,
analysis, and CT-related programs. They generally concurred
with Embassy's overall analysis and recognized that the
overwhelming amount of CT-related assistance comes from the
USG. (See ref A.)

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3. (SBU) Germany's Minister Counselor Bernd Ganter took
exception to labeling Colombian insurgents as terrorists and
bluntly stated that assisting Panama in addressing that
regional stability challenge was "not in Germany's interest."
Ganter recognized the high visibility of the Canal as a
terrorist target, but stated that Panama, as a "developed"
country, should have the ability to protect the Canal and has
the greatest interest in doing so. Germany believes it faces
no threat related to the Canal. Furthermore, he said, the
terrorist threat is greatest in Southeast Asia, where the GOG
is concentrating its CT-related assistance. Germany does not
provide any direct CT-related assistance to Panama and
recently withdrew its LegAtt-equivelant from the region.


4. (SBU) Italy's Commercial Attache Marco Ceasaroni agreed
with the low terrorism threat assessment on Panama, confirmed
that Italy does not provide any CT-related assistance to
Panama, and pressed for more information/intelligence sharing
between CTAG members and Panama as the best way to help
Panama help itself and constructively use its limited


5. (SBU) Russia's Charge' Oleg Ostrovskiy confirmed that his
government does not provide any CT-related assistance to
Panama, but highlighted Russia's close cooperation with the
GOP's Financial Analysis Unit (UAF), sharing information on
money laundering cases. Ostrovskiy proposed that GOP
officials be invited to Embassy's next mini-CTAG meeting to
brief the group on Panama's needs in the CT field. He asked
that the mini-CTAG draft a matrix to directly link GOP CT
priorities (based on the briefing) to possible CTAG member's

Great Britain

6. (SBU) Great Britain's Consul Penny Walsh mentioned her
government's donation of two sniffer dogs for use at Panama's
Tocumen International Airport and her embassy's cooperative
relationship with Panama's National Police (PNP). However,
the GOGB has not provided any other CT-related assistance to
Panama. Walsh noted Panama's upcoming May 2 general election
as a possible distraction to CT-related cooperation, training
and assistance, and GOP responses to mini-CTAG requests.


7. (SBU) Japan's Counselor Tetsuo Hiraide provided the
mini-CTAG with a detailed nonpaper of the GOJ's worldwide
CT-related assistance, which focuses on the areas of
immigration, aviation security, customs cooperation, export
controls, law enforcement cooperation, and anti-terrorist
financing. However, Japan's direct CT-related assistance to
Panama was limited to the visit of two subject-matter experts
to assist the PNP with its telecommunications network. CT
seminars in Japan were attended by some Latin American
officials but not Panamanians. Hiraide commented that most
of the GOJ's CT-related assistance is focused on Southeast
Asia. Japan's assistance to Panama is mainly in
humanitarian, sustainable development and environmental


8. (SBU) France's Counselor Jean-Luc Wertheimer stated that
France does not provide any CT-related assistance to Panama,
but in the past has offered law enforcement training,
specifically for Panama's Technical Judicial Police (PTJ,
similar to our FBI). He highlighted the presence of a French
Regional Customs Attache in Bogota, Colombia, and a Regional
CT Specialist in San Jose, Costa Rica.


9. (SBU) Canada's Consul Manuel Mulas said his government's
CT-related assistance focuses on anti-money laundering
programs, including technical assistance to Panama's UAF and
a regional Central American and Caribbean seminar, to which
UAF representatives will attend. Mulas also highlighted the
GOC-sponsored regional seminar hosted in 2003 in Panama on
the use of the internet in police investigations.


10. (SBU) Spain's Counselor Salvador Maspoch said his
government has provided training in-country and in Spain to
Panama's Public Force's (PPF) security-focused units.
However, Maspoch hesitated to characterize the training as
CT-related, implying that future training might be. While
Spain does not provide any CT-related assistance to Panama,
Maspoch made a point of expressing Spain's willingness to
help Panama in any joint CTAG efforts.


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