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Cablegate: Interagency Team Discusses Security Cooperation

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PANAMA 002025



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/07/2015


Classified By: Ambassador William A. Eaton. Reasons 1.4 (B/D)

1. (C) Summary: Panamanian President Torrijos and his
principal national security advisors met with a visiting USG
interagency delegation September 29 and agreed to pursue
enhanced information sharing, improve border security
cooperation, and develop a mechanism for closer bilateral
security coordination. Torrijos and his team are prepared for
further discussions on these issues in the weeks leading up
to, and during, President Bush,s visit to Panama in
November. This initiative provides the USG with a unique
opportunity to enhance our homeland security and strengthen
Panama,s ability to fight terrorism and narcotics
trafficking as it anchors an evolving North American security
community. End Summary

U.S. and Panama Discuss Security Cooperation

2. (C) WHA DAS Dan Fisk led an interagency delegation to
Panama City September 28 ) 30 for consultations with the GOP
regarding the Panama Secure Trade & Transportation Initiative
(PST&TI). PST&TI represents the Torrijos Administration,s
framework for national security planning and international
cooperation and seeks to take advantage of Panama,s
geographic location and growing importance in global maritime
trade. DASD Roger Pardo-Maurer and DHS Director for Latin
America Suzanne Petrie also participated in the USG
delegation, along with colleagues from the Departments of
State, Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, and the CIA.
Discussions focused on opportunities for enhanced information
sharing, cooperation to enhance border security, and
mechanisms for formalizing ongoing bilateral security
consultations. As DAS Fisk noted in his concluding remarks
to U.S. and Panamanian officials, this trip provided USG
participants with a unique opportunity to interact with the
intellectual authors of the Panamanian proposal and to learn
more about its contours. The Panamanians were clearly
impressed with the breadth and depth of U.S. representation,
and welcomed the opportunity to interact with USG

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Torrijos Stresses Regional Context

3. (C) At a September 29 breakfast he hosted, President
Torrijos, joined by Foreign Minister Lewis, Minister of
Government and Justice Aleman, and Intelligence Chief Leonel
Solis, stressed Panama,s desire to strengthen security
cooperation with the U.S. During the discussion, Torrijos
emphasized the linkage between security and prosperity,
noting the importance of promoting human development
throughout the region. The group discussed the regional
dimensions of Panama,s security proposal, with DASD Pardo
Maurer expressing hope that Panama could help anchor a
regional security strategy for Central America. With this in
mind, Torrijos noted that Panama would be assuming the
Presidency of SICA (the Central American System for Regional
Integration) at the end of the year and would seek to focus
that organization on concrete objectives.

GOP Updates on Security Strategy

4. (C) Leading off the formal discussions later in the day,
Minister of Government and Justice Aleman and his colleagues
provided the U.S. delegation with an update to the PST&TI
proposal, which had first been presented in early April,
2005. The PST&TI proposal has been developed by a GOP
inter-agency team and continues to bear President Torrijos
personal imprint. Aleman focused his presentation on the
ongoing restructuring of Panama,s security forces, including
changes in Customs, the Police, and the Air and Maritime
Services. (Note: While Aleman unveiled the GOP,s plan to
merge the Air and Maritime Services into a new &Coast
Guard,8 it has since become clear that this initiative has
not been fully developed.) USG participants were also
provided additional details regarding Panama,s proposed
information analysis system and its interest in biomedical
research and development. Detailed background information
has been shared with USG participants in the meeting.
5. (C) As in previous discussions, participants focused on
the importance of the Panama Canal to global maritime trade
and its potential vulnerability to terrorist attack. At the
Embassy,s request, a senior representative from the Panama
Canal Authority (ACP) was included in this meeting. His
participation allowed us to bring earlier discussions with
the ACP regarding information sharing into the broader
context of the bilateral initiatives being planned. In
conversations after our meeting, all participants agreed that
it was useful to have the Canal included in the discussions.

Defining areas for Cooperation

6. (C) USG representatives stressed our desire to strengthen
bilateral security cooperation and to develop concrete
&deliverables8 in advance of the President,s November
visit to Panama. In subsequent working group sessions
devoted to information sharing, security force restructuring,
and trade/transportation security, representatives agreed
that there were several areas that were particularly
promising. These include:

Development of information sharing systems;
Potential progress on the Container Security Initiative
Enhanced Border Security Assistance;
Development of a bilateral ad hoc mechanism for
security-related consultations

7. (C) Foreign Minister Lewis expressed support for the ad
hoc bilateral security consultative mechanism. This would
seek to formalize what we are doing with Panama as part of
this initiative. Embassy believes that such a mechanism
would not only help us keep PST&TI on track, but could also
serve as a forum for reviewing the progress of ongoing

Next Steps

8. (C) Participants at the September 29 consultations agreed
that there would be an opportunity to follow up on elements
of the discussions during the SecDef,s Central American
Defense Ministerial scheduled for October 12 ) 14 in Miami,
although they acknowledged that these meetings would not be
devoted solely to PST&TI. The President,s visit to the
Canal also offers an opportunity for the two leaders to
publicly affirm their commitment to secure trade and
transportation infrastructure, perhaps in the form of a joint
declaration that could be issued during the visit.

9. (C) In order to maintain the momentum from these
discussions, Embassy believes that the following high
priority activities should be scheduled before the end of

A visit by a CBP team to discuss CSI with Panama,s new
Customs Director and staff;

A visit by an inter-agency team of technical experts to
develop a test of the proposed information sharing system;

Presentation of a proposal for the ad hoc bilateral security
consultation mechanism, that could possibly be announced
during the POTUS visit;


10. (C) As they did in April, Panama,s national security
team impressed USG counterparts with the amount of effort
that has gone into their proposal for enhanced security
cooperation. We have shown the GOP that we are serious in
looking for ways to respond positively to their proposal
within resource constraints. The November visit provides
both governments with a unique opportunity to accelerate the
development and implementation of new initiatives.

© Scoop Media

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