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Cablegate: Colombian Ambassador Concerned About Ecuador

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

151631Z Sep 05

UNCLAS QUITO 002132

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV CO EC
SUBJECT: COLOMBIAN AMBASSADOR CONCERNED ABOUT ECUADOR

REF: SECSTATE 166733

1. (SBU) Summary. Colombian Ambassador Carlos Holguin
Molina told the Ambassador on September 13 that his
government is concerned about deteriorating bilateral
relations with the Palacio government. The impending exit of
FM Parra would help, but likely not resolve the festering
dispute over aerial CN fumigation along the Colombia-Ecuador
border, he said. The GOE referral of the dispute to the
IACHR would set an unfortunate precedent which the GOC
regrets. The Ambassador told Holguin we would encourage
dialogue between the two neighbors. Holguin was grateful and
said another opportunity to improve relations could come
later this month, when President Uribe visits Quito. End
Summary.

Tough Start: Amb. Faces Fumigation Issue
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Holguin, who arrived in Quito shortly before the
Ambassador and presented his credentials on the same day, was
eager to establish rapport. He lamented the recent
deterioration of traditionally friendly bilateral relations
between the two neighbors, blaming FM Parra for politicizing
the fumigation issue. Asked by the Ambassador whether
Parra's impending departure would ease pressure on the issue,
Holguin demurred. Parra and Human Rights Ombudsman Claudio
Mueckay, who recently filed a petition on behalf of alleged
Ecuadorian victims affected by glyphosate spraying, had "put
Palacio in a box" on the issue.

3. (SBU) Holguin appeared surprised to learn that the IACHR
might request the "precautionary measures" requiring the GOC
to halt its spraying within 10 km of the border (RefTel). He
admitted that he had not received a copy of the Mueckay
petition. (Note: We have, but did not share a copy with
Holguin. We have faxed a copy to WHA/AND on September 12).

Ambassador Encourages Dialogue
------------------------------

4. (SBU) The Ambassador agreed that bilateral dialogue is
preferable to international appeals to resolve the fumigation
issue. That is exactly what we are encouraging the GOE to
pursue. For his part, President Palacio has expressed hope
that dialogue would bring mutual understanding, she said,
offering an opening for President Uribe.

5. (SBU) Holguin expressed gratitude for USG support, adding
that President Uribe had accepted Palacio's invitation to
meet in Quito (with President Toledo of Peru) to discuss FTA
strategy. The Ambassador expressed hope that the visit,
focused on mutual interests, could help both countries
overcome current differences. Holguin agreed.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) The bumps in the relationship with Colombia are
more a function of the Palacio government's weakness than GOC
behavior. To prevent further damage which could affect USG
interests, we will coordinate closely with Holguin while
trying to move the GOE towards dialogue and away from
unilateral action. Parra's impending departure will
help--Palacio assured the Ambassador on September 12 of his
interest in "useful dialogue" to get the Ecuador-Colombia
relationship "back on track." We agree that an Uribe visit
focused on mutual interests could also help shift debate here.
JEWELL

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