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Cablegate: Us-Argentine Bilateral Relationship; Argentina's Decision

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1871/01 2341235
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221235Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5619
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
RULGPUA/USCOMSOLANT

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001871

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC,
WHA/EPSC
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL MEDIA REACTION
SUBJECT: US-ARGENTINE BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP; ARGENTINA'S DECISION
NOT TO SEND TROOPS TO THE BORDER BETWEEN ISRAEL AND LEBANON; MIDDLE
EAST WAR; SGP REVIEW; TRI-BORDER; FORMER ECONOMY MINISTER LAVAGNA'S
STATEMENTS ABOUT MERCOSUR AND CHAVEZ; US-URUGUAYAN FTA; VENEZUELAN
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS 08/16/06


1. SUMMARY STATEMENT

Today's leading international stories include Argentina's decision
not to send troops to the border between Israel and Lebanon, and its
impact on the US-Argentine bilateral relationship; the SGP review in
relation to Argentina; Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay's decision to
create the Intelligence Regional Center on the Tri-Border; former
Argentine Economy Minister Roberto Lavagna's statements that
Mercosur should "put a brake" on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez;
the likelihood of an FTA between the US and Uruguay; and the
upcoming Venezuelan presidential elections.

2. OPINION PIECES AND KEY STORIES

- "The US again tests the Kirchner administration's foreign policy"

Eduardo van der Kooy, political columnist of leading "Clarin,"
writes (08/16) "The Kirchner administration's foreign policy will be
facing two acid tests. In both of them, Washington's influence can
directly or indirectly be seen. The US-Argentine bilateral
relationship is going through a time of indifference, but not
tension.

"The first topic is related to the war in the Middle East, which has
just entered a precarious and sluggish truce. The UN Security
Council has asked for 15,000 international troops to avoid
repetition of clashes on the border between Israel and Lebanon. One
request was made to Argentina, which rejected it, and the other one
to Brazil.

"The second issue is related to Brazil's announcement of the
creation of an Intelligence Regional Center for the control of the
Tri-Border...

"Truly enough, the request for troops for the Middle East was made
by the UN, but Washington made feel its pressure during the last few
hours... The cease fire in the Middle East is too fragile.

"This was one of the reasons why the Argentine Government decided
not to send peace keeping troops. Israel is not certain that a new
round of clashes may not occur... Hezbollah insists on proclaiming
its victory and this will also contribute to destabilization in the
area."

- "Argentina will not send troops"

Daniel Gallo, columnist of daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes
(08/16) "Argentina will not send any troops to the international
peace-keeping force on the border between Israel and Lebanon... An
Argentine Government official close to FM Jorge Taiana said 'We will
not be part of said force.'

"This decision has not been notified yet to UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan, who had requested for Argentina's participation.

"... Two important reasons led the Government to make this
decision... On the one hand, Blue Helmets will be on the border
between Israel and Lebanon under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. This
is a peacekeeping force that will impose peace by force, with the
possibility of victims. Under these circumstances, the Congress will
hardly approve sending troops.

"In addition to this, another situation was taken into account -
Hezbollah is held responsible for the criminal attacks launched in
Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994. This situation could make the
Congressional debate even tougher."

- "Commercial sanctions are closer"

Silvia Naishtat, on special assignment to La Jolla for leading
"Clarin," comments (08/16) "4,500 kilometers away from
Washington..., Jeffrey Davidow, former US Ambassador to Venezuela
and Mexico during the Clinton and Bush administrations, current head
of the Institute for the Americas, and one of the major experts in
the relationship between Washington and the region, said 'Argentina
will likely be eliminated from the General System of Preferences.'

"The news about the loss of those preferential tariffs took the
Argentine Foreign Ministry by surprise... For Buenos Aires, it means
political rather than economic damage - thanks to the GSP, Argentine
exports for 616 million dollars are sent to the US per year, but
many small companies will find it hard to get over it.

"Roberto Echandi, head of the Center for Investment and Trade,


described the GSP as a regime of awards and sanctions... According
to Echandi, rejection of the FTAA is what caused this trade
retaliation, 'although Venezuela's entry into Mercosur is another
reason.'

"... According to Uruguayan Economy negotiator Alvaro Ons, there are
other reasons. 'One should attribute it to disagreement with
Washington at WTO negotiations.'

"Asked about what Argentina can do about it, Jeffrey Davidow
answered 'Nothing, there is no possibility of negotiation because
the GSP is a unilateral benefit granted by Washington, and it can be
removed just as easily as it was granted.'"

- "What have we done in war?"

Fabian Bosoer, columnist of leading "Clarin," writes (08/16) "...
Perhaps the US electorate is on the verge of waking from the
prolonged neo-conservative dream. Perhaps the glue that put together
the global war on terrorism, the invasion of Iraq and the GWOT's
sense of historical mission has started to crack...

"Perhaps, many in the US are wondering whether they have done enough
regarding this war, and perhaps there is an increasing feeling that
something else (or something different) should be done to get out of
the war in some other way."

- "Tri-border - Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay coordinate
espionage"

Eleonora Gosman, Sao Paulo-based correspondent for leading "Clarin,"
writes (08/16) "Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay agreed to make more
effective their joint actions against the alleged Islamic terrorist
group that is reported to be acting on the Tri-border. The
governments of the three countries have just created the
Intelligence Regional Center...

"The measure should not be surprising, because it is a response to a
big pressure from the USG, which believes the area is a financial
base of allegedly terrorist Arab organizations. The Intelligence
Regional Center includes Argentine, Brazilian and Paraguayan
investigative agents who will jointly act in the region."

- "Uruguayan commercial expansion also includes China and India"

Business-financial, center-right "InfoBae" reports (08/16) "The
ruling party in Uruguay, Frente Amplio, rejected the FTA that
Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez is negotiating with the US.

"While the ruling coalition rejected an FTA with the US outside of
Mercosur, the opposition has supported it in a determined way.

"... According to Uruguayan Economy Minister Danilo Astori, the new
international strategy promoted by the Uruguayan government not only
includes an FTA with the US, but also with China and India."

- "Lavagna warned Mercosur to subject President Chavez to control"

Conservative "La Prensa" reports (08/16) "Former Argentine Economy
Minister Roberto Lavagna said that Mercosur should 'put a brake' on
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez so that the Mercosur's agenda 'does
not fully change' and he rejected the proposal to create a South
American army, which he labeled 'foolish.'

"Asked about the possibility that the Vazquez administration signs
an FTA with the US, Lavagna said that 'sufficient flexibility should
be granted to Uruguay, if it wants, to seek other trade deals
without leaving Mercosur. Out of all Mercosur member countries,
Uruguay has been precisely the one whose exports to its Mercosur
partners have increased the least.'"

3. EDITORIALS

- "Venezuelan presidential elections"

Daily-of-record "La Nacion" editorializes (08/16) "Next December 3,
Venezuela will again hold presidential elections. The opposition has
just proclaimed Manuel Rosales as the candidate who will compete
with current President Hugo Chavez in a political adventure that
seems particularly complex.

"... The upcoming presidential elections are important not only
because Venezuela could recover its lost Republican direction and
return to democracy through it but also it could put an end to a


petrodollar-supported totalitarian leader's interference in the
domestic affairs of the entire region."

- "The cease fire in the Middle East"

Leading "Clarin" editorializes (08/16) "The cease fire in Lebanon
imposes a major responsibility and effort on the involved parties to
undo the escalation of violence and resume a road for peace.

"... The consequences of the confrontation should highlight that
clashes cannot afford to be repeated. It is clear that no country
may stay defenseless vis-`-vis the systematic attack against its
people. At the same time, there are no winners in a war whose main
victims are unarmed civilians.

"The UN and the world leaders have the challenge to influence the
two sides to effectively implement the program of pacification, the
return of life conditions to normal, and the deactivation of clashes
that still prevail in the region."

- "The world craves for a lasting peace"

An editorial in conservative "La Prensa" reads (08/16) "The fragile
truce in the Middle East still holds the hope to reach a lasting
peace, which is the wish of the international community but also of
the suffering peoples that are the target of recurring battles
engendered in an ancestral confrontation...

"Since the most aggressive sectors of the Palestinian community took
power..., the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and the West
Bank was the prelude to a strong reaction from Israel...

"The suffering of the peoples of the Middle East should stop, and
for this purpose a serious commitment from the international
community, particularly from the most powerful countries like the US
and the EU, is crucial. Far from seeing peace as their main
objective, these powers are boosting a war that only favors the
businesses of powerful sectors. They are not aware of the fact that
only through tolerance and the sustainable development of the area,
genuine growth will be achieved and this will benefit all."

To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our
classified website at:
http://www.state.sqov.gov/p/wha/buenosaires

MATERA

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