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Cablegate: Peru's Garcia Extends Hand to Chile

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 022252Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY LIMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1667
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 3714
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 6919
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 9701
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ AUG QUITO 0582
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0769
RUMIAAA/CDR USCINCSO MIAMI FL

UNCLAS LIMA 003016

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PHUM PE
SUBJECT: PERU'S GARCIA EXTENDS HAND TO CHILE


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Summary:
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1. (U) During his inauguration, Peruvian President Alan
Garcia Perez made a deliberate and highly successful effort
to improve Peru's relations with Chile. Garcia invited
President Bachelet to be a guest of honor at Peru's annual
Independence Day Military Parade on 7/29, and Peruvian
Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde told the Chileans that
the Garcia Administration was intent in improving the
bilateral relationship. The Garcia administration clearly
sees Chile as a geo-strategic and economic partner. For her
part, President Bachelet was a hit with the press and public,
receiving plaudits for, among a number of gestures, publicly
singing Peru's national anthem. End summary.

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Inaugurating a New Relationship
-------------------------------

2. (U) During his inauguration ceremonies, Peruvian
President Alan Garcia Perez made a deliberate and so far
highly successful effort to improve Peru's relations with
Chile. Peruvians, occasional animus for their southern
neighbor dates from the 19th century War of the Pacific, and
during the Toledo Administration maritime border disputes, a
flap over an unflattering video of Peru shown on the
Chilean-owned Lan Peru Airline, controversy over possible
Chilean acquisition of Peruvian ports and anti-Chilean
elements in former opposition presidential candidate Ollanta
Humala,s presidential campaign all, in their way, introduced
tensions into the relationship. Garcia clearly saw the
inauguration as a chance to get past these tensions and make
headway on a geopolitical and economic relationship that he
considers a priority for Peru.

3. (SBU) Chilean Political Counselor Fernando Velasco summed
up for Poloff the positive gestures by both sides that he saw
in the visit on 7/31.

-Velasco emphasized that Chile sent a large, high-level
delegation to the inauguration, one that included, not only
the President and Foreign Minister, but also a dozen
parliamentarians, including two members of the opposition.

-The Chileans were pleasantly surprised when the Peruvians
invited President Bachelet to be a special guest of honor at
the traditional Independence Day military parade on 7/29.
Velasco mentioned that there had actually been talk of having
Chilean military officials march in the parade, but there had
been no time to arrange this.

-President Bachelet paid a visit to 91-year old APRA Party
historic leader Armando Villanueva del Campo on Saturday,
7/29, along with Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo.
Villanueva was a close friend and political ally of APRA
Party founder Haya de la Torre.

4. (SBU) Gestures were also accompanied by clear words of
encouragement from the Peruvians. Velasco noted that
Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde told the
visiting Chilean delegation that former President Toledo had
"mistreated" Chile and that the new APRA government intended
to change this.

5. (U) For her part, President Bachelet proved skillful at
responding. The Chilean President's mother lived in Peru for
many years, and President Bachelet's knowledge of Peru was in
evidence. She sang the Peruvian National Anthem during the
military parade and remarked on her family connection to the
country during the visit. Press coverage was laudatory.
Chilean Ambassador Christian Barros hosted a dinner on Friday
7/28 that included his country's entire delegation as well as
various Chilean business representatives. Peru's new Minster
of Defense Alan Wagner, Housing Minister Hernan Lecca and
various members of the new Peruvian Congress also attended.
During the visit, Bachelet stated Chile's interest in signing
a free trade agreement with Peru and in having her country
return to the Andean Community.

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Comment:
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6. (SBU) The Garcia administration is signaling a new tack
toward Chile. Disputes like that over the maritime bourndary
will be relegated to the appropriate international bodies.
Garcia and his people see Chile as a key geostrategic partner
on the Pacific Rim, and they are eager to build a strong
relationship. So far, they are off to a good start.
STRUBLE

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