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Cablegate: Media Reaction - Chile President Bachelet in the Us, June


DE RUEHSG #1304/01 1652210
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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: President Michelle Bachelet's visit to Washington was
front-page fodder for all Chilean media on June 9 and continued
providing editorial material throughout the weekend. Dailies
underscored Bachelet's comment that U.S. President George Bush had
exerted no pressure on Chile to block Venezuela's candidacy for a
vacant seat on the United Nations Security Council. Only
conservative, independent "La Tercera" reported otherwise. Dailies
highlighted President Bush's remarks that relations with Chile "are
very good" and that he hoped to maintain them in that condition and
that the presidents had discussed the need for greater U.S.-Latin
America integration. President Bush's praise of Bachelet's
dedication to promoting "social justice" also caught the eye of the
Chilean press. Subsequent coverage noted the presidents had
discussed Venezuela, but not its accession to the UNSC. Only "La
Tercera" and "El Mercurio " ran editorial commentary. End summary.

2. Conservative, influential newspaper-of-record "El Mercurio"
(circ. 116,807): "Bush and Bachelet Speak 'Under no Pressure'"

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With both the local and foreign press focused on White House
pressure on Chile not to support Venezuela in the U.N. Security
Council, Michelle Bachelet emphatically denied feeling any such
pressure in her meeting with U.S. President George Bush. "There was
no pressure of any kind on any issue," she said.

3. Conservative, independent "La Tercera" (circ. 102,000): "Bush
Expresses Concern to Bachelet over Venezuela's Influence in the

As expected, Hugo Chavez' name hovered over the Bush-Bachelet
bilateral meeting. Bush expressed his concern over Venezuela's
influence in the region and Bachelet said Chile wants to maintain
the best possible relations with its neighbors, but is also willing
to serve as a model of economic development in the region, which is
exactly one of the things the U.S. has demanded from Chile. After
the meeting Bachelet said, "There has been no pressure of any kind.
We have not discussed the specific topic of the Security Council."

"La Tercera": "White House Transcript of the Bush-Bachelet Meeting:
'We have Good Relations with Chile and Hope to Maintain Them,' said

4. Business and financial daily Diario Financiero (circ. 20,000):
"Bush Says it's Important for the U.S. to Work with its Allies."

President Bush's remarks clearly show it is important for the U.S.
to have Chile as an ally. Although President Bachelet denied any
pressure from President Bush about Chile's vote in the UNSC, her
statements after the bilateral show the topic came up in their
45-minute meeting.

5. Business and financial daily "Estrategia" (circ. 20,000):
"Bachelet Denies Pressure from Bush over Venezuela"

Subhead line: Bachelet said that in the bilateral meeting both had
discussed the need to improve integration between the United States
and Latin America.

6. On June 8, conservative, afternoon daily "La Segunda" (circ.
31,834): "Bush after the Meeting: 'We have Good Relations with Chile
and I Hope to Maintain Them'"

7. Government-owned, editorially independent "La Nacion" (circ.,
3,800): "Bachelet Dismisses Pressure from Bush"

The Chilean and U.S. presidents discussed the Latin America
situation and the challenges to democratic stability. Bachelet
assured, "There has been no pressure of any kind on any issue," in
reference to the White House's desire to block Venezuela's accession
to the UNSC.

8. Conservative, independent "La Tercera" ( circ. 102,000) editorial
entitled, "Presidential Visit to the United States" states in part:

"President Bachelet's trip to the U.S. is significant because it
takes place as La Moneda faces some complex foreign policy decisions
and as anti-American social and political forces are beginning to
coalesce in a large part of Latin America.... This shows that
Chile-- regardless of the difficult foreign policy decisions ahead
(Venezuela holds the key on energy issues and supported a Chilean
for OAS secretary general)--understands the importance of fluid
high-level channels of communication at the White House...and has
chosen an agenda that prioritizes strengthening the areas in which
both countries already agree, such as cooperating for regional peace
and stability and promoting free trade.

"The White House...is a fundamental ally of Chile on the continent
and in the world. In addition to being the major destination for
Chilean exports it signed a free trade agreement, which has been a

political sign in itself since its implementation, endorsing Chile's
political, economic and institutional development in its recovery of

9. El Mercurio (conservative, influential newspaper-of-record,
circ. 116,807, 6/10): "Bachelet Tells Bush Chile will Ratify the

On Thursday Bachelet informed President Bush of Chile's intention to
ratify the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC),
said delegation sources, adding that there were no major comments
from President Bush or Secretary Rice. There had already been
indications the U.S. administration would not take a very strong
position. In fact, before the trip, U.S. diplomacy noted there was
no pressure on Chile. Washington's view is that if Chile chooses to
favor Venezuela, it would not only put itself in a difficult
position but would also hurt the debut of its ambassador to the
United States.

10. La Tercera (conservative, independent, circ. 102,000, 6/11):
"The Bachelet-Bush Face-to-Face Private Dialogues"

The meeting between Presidents Bush and Bachelet was preceded by a
warning delivered a few weeks ago to Foreign Minister Alejandro
Foxley for Chile to vote against Venezuela in the UNSC. The Chilean
delegation was confident President Bush would not insist on this
specific issue, but also knew he would let the chance pass to
express the U.S. interest that Chile abandon its neutral policy in
the region. And that is exactly what happened. President Bush said
Chile should use its political capital and "mark the path" in the
region.... His remarks fall in the framework of Washington's main
goal: that its friends and allies help contain Venezuela. Bachelet
was the first to mention the name "Chavez," reiterating that her
administration is willing to serve as a model, but that it must also
be careful not to hurt relations with its neighbors. But this does
not mean the U.S. abandoned its demand for a vote against Chavez in
the UNSC. A high-ranking Foreign Ministry source admitted for the
first time that this is the reason the GOC is looking for a
consensus candidate. The idea is to avoid the appearance that Chile
is the alternative's promoter so Caracas does not become irritated.

11. La Tercera (6/11) article by Alvaro Vargas Llosa entitled, "The
Ghost Hovering at the White House Meeting"

Department of State and Security Council sources said the USG
closely followed Chilean press articles on the alleged pressure to
block Venezuela's accession to the United Nations Security Council
and watched for the "rebound" of these stories in other countries.
The conclusion was that some "damage control" was needed so Chile
would not feel trapped, which would undermine Washington's goal to
contain Venezuela. The result of this damage control was that
Presidents Bush and Bachelet discussed Venezuela but did not
directly address the vote in the UNSC.

12. La Nacion (government-owned, editorially independent, circ.,
3,800, 6/11): "Chile Lays Down a Marker"

In her meeting with President Bush, Bachelet subtly set her cards on
the table. Bachelet explained her position on several perennially
complex and sensitive bilateral issues, such as the ratification of
the International Criminal Court, Venezuela's accession to the UNSC,
the expansion of leftist and populist governments in Latin America,
and regional integration. Unofficial sources said Bachelet informed
Bush on Thursday that Chile would ratify the ICC "with no
conditions"... Chile's public realization of this would be a
diplomatic defeat for the White House, but would confirm Bachelet's
commitment to human rights and peace and would be seen as signal of
her autonomy from Washington.... What became evident in Washington,
however, is that Chile would take its time deciding whether to
support Venezuela in the UNSC. Realizing this, Bush chose not to
directly address the issue in the meeting, enabling Bachelet to show
discreet satisfaction over the absence of U.S. pressure and tell the
press the UNSC was not discussed. This is no minor matter, as one of
Washington's strategic goals is preventing Chavez from winning a
seat on the UNSC. Bachelet's decision to be autonomous and not
commit her vote is not something that Bush endorses.

13. El Mercurio (conservative, influential newspaper-of-record,
circ. 116,807, 6/11) editorial "Relations with the United States"

"The meeting with President Bush in the White House showcased a
correct and friendly understanding.... The discussion between both
presidents transcended the bilateral arena into the complex and
changing Latin American scenario without any signs of disagreement.
Some expected Venezuela's candidacy to the UNSC to be part of the
agenda, but the issue was not addressed.... Chile must face the
issue with independence, flexibility and moderation...and continue
to capitalize on its good relations with the U.S. to strengthen

trade, open new cooperative avenues and look for foreign policy
convergence based on shared interests. The U.S. is the world's
major power, a country with which we share the values of democracy
and political and economic freedom, and our most important
commercial partner; a country that is competitive in science and
technology--while we are not. President Bachelet's visit
strengthens the chance to move forward on these matters."


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