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Cablegate: U/S Burns' October 25 Meeting with President Uribe

DE RUEHBO #0317/01 3111221
O 071221Z NOV 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 010317



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/30/2016

Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood
Reason: 1.4 (b,d)

1. (U) October 25, 2006; 5:00 pm.

2. (U) Participants:


Under Secretary Nicholas Burns
Ambassador William Wood
Assistant Secretary Thomas Shannon
Assistant Secretary Patterson
John Creamer (notetaker)


President Alvaro Uribe
Minster of Defense Juan Manuel Santos
Minister of Foreign Affairs Maria Consuelo Araujo
Ambassador Carolina Barco
Presidential Communications Director Jorge Eastman

3. (C) Summary: U/S Burns praised Colombia,s progress on
security, economic development and human rights, and
reiterated the U.S. commitment to continue substantial
bilateral aid. Still, he cautioned that further GOC progress
on human rights would be needed to maintain U.S.
congressional support for Plan Colombia. Uribe welcomed
Burns, proposal that the GOC and the U.S. produce a Plan
Colombia Consolidation Plan by early January that would
outline a joint U.S.-GOC strategy for the next five years.
He understood congressional concerns on human rights, and
would work to improve Colombia,s human rights record. The
two also discussed the status of the bilateral free trade
agreement and the Andean Trade Preferences Act, bilateral
security cooperation, the U.S. hostages held by the FARC,
counternarcotics programs, and regional issues. End Summary

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4. (C) U/S Burns said his visit followed up President
Uribe,s September 19 meeting with Secretary Rice. He
praisedColombia,s progress on security, economic
development and human rights, and reiterated the U.S.
commitment to continue substantial bilateral support. The
Administration would request that Congress maintain current
aid levels over the next two years, seek Congressional
ratification of the bilateral free trade agreement, and ask
Congress to extend the Andean Trade Preferences Act for
Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru. He said it is key to
build on Plan Colombia,s success and noted that he had asked
A/S Shannon to work with the GOC on a Plan Colombia
Consolidation Plan. The document should be completed by
early January and should lay out a joint U.S.-GOC strategy
for the next five years. The Administration and the GOC
could then present it jointly to the U.S. Congress.

5. (C) U/S Burns said there is strong potential for
increased bilateral security cooperation. The U.S. is
committed to providing Colombia with technological help to
fight the FARC, and is also interested in deepening our
security ties through joint exercises, doctrine, training and
exchanges. He urged Defense Minister Santos and Foreign
Minister Araujo to visit Washington to discuss an enhanced
security relationship. Burns thanked Uribe for the GOC,s
cooperation in trying to free the three U.S. hostages held by
the FARC, and urged that they be included in any possible
humanitarian exchange.

6. (C) U/S Burns said he consistently encourages U.S.
Congressmen to visit Colombia. Those that do so are almost
always impressed by what they see. Still, he cautioned that
some members of the U.S. Congress are concerned by what they
perceive as the GOC,s failure to make more progress on human
rights*as evidenced by the GOC,s inability to resolve
outstanding human rights cases such as Mapiripan and San Jose
delApartado. Moreover, some members consider the Justice
and Peace Law to be too lenient and want tough implementation
against paramilitary leaders. He said the GOC must address
these concerns to maintain bipartisan congressional support
for U.S. assistance to Colombia.

U.S. Congress, the FTA and APTA

7. (C) Uribe welcomed Congressional visits and said Senator
Harry Reid of Nevada will reportedly visit Colombia in
December. He said the GOC hopes the U.S. Congress will
approve the FTA before yearend. If it does not, it is
important for Colombia that Congress act in the first quarter
of 2007. He noted that the GOC had made major concessions in
the FTA negotiations, including beef and intellectual
property rights. He had personally explained to the
Colombian people that these politically difficult concessions

BOGOTA 00010317 002 OF 003

were necessary to conclude the deal.

8. (C) Uribe said that if the U.S. Congress does not ratify
the FTA in 2006, an extension of the ATPA is critical to
avoid&disastrous social consequences8 in Colombia. Given
the political instability in the Andes, it would be useful if
the U.S. granted an extension to all of the current
beneficiaries, including Ecuador and Bolivia. U.S.
announcement of its intention to extend ATPA before the
November 26 second round of presidential elections in Ecuador
could help pro-free trade candidate Alvaro Noboa. Still, he
cautioned that the U.S. should clarify that any extension
would only be temporary and would be designed to give the
countries time to conclude an FTA. This would create an
incentive for Ecuador and Bolivia to pursue free trade deals
with the U.S. while not disadvantaging Colombia or Peru for
having already done so.

Security Cooperation

9. (C) Uribe said the GOC wants to deepen security
cooperation and welcomed the invitation to send Santos and
Araujo to Washington to discuss this issue. Santos said he
had presented a draft agreement to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld
at the Defense Ministerial of the Americas in Managua. The
GOC hopes this draft would enable the GOC and U.S. to do
anything that they want in the security area while not
requiring approval by either country's Congress. Uribe
underscored that it is important that any security accord not
need Congressional ratification.

U.S. Hostages and Humanitarian Accord

10 (C) Uribe said the GOC would insist that the U.S.
hostages be included in any humanitarian exchange with the
FARC. The GOC would consult with the U.S. on any GOC-FARC
negotiations and would not consider a deal that separated the
U.S. hostages from the Colombians held by the group. He
clarified, however, that at the moment*prompted by the
October 19 FARC car bomb at the National Military
University*GOC efforts to start humanitarian talks with the
FARC are off.

11. (C) Uribe explained that after his election in May, he
had consciously moderated his rhetoric toward the FARC in an
attempt to create conditions for talks with the group. It is
now clear, however, that the only way to deal with the FARC
is to defeat them militarily. He said the three countries
accompanying the FARC process*Spain, France and
Switzerland*had urged him to reconsider his decision to
break off contacts with the group. He would not do so unless
the FARC stopped its terrorist attacks. Uribe stressed that
his decision to end overtures to the FARC enjoyed popular
support. His attempt to reach out to the FARC had
highlighted the group,s intransigence and &relegitimized8
his democratic security policy.

12. (C) Uribe said the GOC needs U.S. help to locate the
U.S. hostages and to mount a rescue attempt.Without U.S.
assistance, a rescue effort would be impossible. He assured
U/S Burns that the GOC would not try to rescue the U.S.
hostages without full coordination with the U.S. Santos
confirmed that the standing order to the Colombian military
is that any operation to rescue the hostages must be "dual


13. (C) Uribe said there were some advances in the fourth
round of talks with the ELN. For the first time, it appears
the ELN accepts the need to put in place a ceasefire. He
noted that his omission of the ELN from his October 20 speech
suspending efforts to talk to the FARC about a humanitarian
exchange and calling for the arrest of paramilitary leader
Vicente Castano was aimed at encouraging the ELN to continue
peace talks.

Human Rights

14. (C) Uribe said he understood U.S. congressional concerns
on human rights and the Justice and Peace Law (JPL). He must
be prudent in his efforts to advance the resolution of
individual cases, because he must respect the independence of
the Prosecutor General,s Office (Fiscalia). Still, Uribe
said he calls the Prosecutor General every day to urge
progress on human rights cases. Ambassador Barco also works
directly with the Fiscalia on key cases.

15. (C) Uribe said most of the concerns raised by human
rights groups regarding the JPL were addressed in the
implementing decree. Most key paramilitary leaders are in
GOC custody: the Prosecutor General will hear the first JPL
confession of a paramilitary*Salvador Mancuso*within 15

BOGOTA 00010317 003 OF 003

days. Uribe said GOC security forces are looking to detain
those paramilitary leaders, such as Vicente Castano, that are
still at large. If the GOC arrests these individuals, they
will not be eligible for JPL benefits and will be subject to


16. (C) Uribe said that without clear progress on
counternarcotics, it would be impossible to sustain political
support for Plan Colombia. The GOC and the U.S. need to
agree on the baseline amount of coca in the country and to
revise their counternarcotics efforts accordingly. Santos
said the GOC and the U.S. will set up a high-level commission
to look at the coca issue and to report back by December.
Ambassador Barco urged the group to consider alternative
measures of success beyond the number of coca hectares
sprayed. Uribe asked for U.S support in developing a
strategy for Colombia,s Pacific Coast, which has seen a
sharp increase in coca production and terrorist activities.
A/S Patterson agreed to work with the GOC on this issue.


17. (C) Uribe said the GOC is committed to Guatemala, and
will not lead an effort to identify a compromise candidate.
The GOC will follow Guatemala,s lead.

Venezuela and Bolivia

18 (C) Uribe said that when he met with Venezuelan President
Chavez a month ago, Chavez had voiced concern about the
impact of rising crime on his reelection campaign. Hence,
Chavez had asked for GOC cooperation to combat criminal
activity along the border. Santos said that in a follow-up
meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart, the GOV had promised
to cooperate with the GOC to combat narcotrafficking and
kidnapping. Since then, the GOV has handed over two
importantnarcotraffickers and one mid-level terrorist.
Still, the GOV has not yet responded to a GOC request that it
detain a high-value terrorist leader.

19 (C) Asked for the U.S. assessment of the Venezuelan
presidential elections, A/S Shannon said opposition candidate
Manuel Rosales is running a smart campaign. Still, Chavez
has perfected his control of Venezuela,s electoral
machinery, and will likely win on December 3. Chavez, main
vulnerability is that he must win by a substantial margin to
maintain his regional mystique. To achieve this, he may need
to resort to fraud. In this context, it is important that
international observers, such as the OAS and the European
Union, be present and have adequate mandate.

20. (C) Uribe said he was not following events in Bolivia
closely, and asked for the U.S view. Shannon said the
political situation in La Paz is difficult. Cuban and
Venezuelan influence is strong, and President Morales has
made serious political mistakes. Still, the U.S. continues
to stress our desire to work with Morales*despite an
increase in coca production. Shannon said we hope Brazil
will take a more active role in Bolivia after the second
round of Brazilian elections on October 29.

21. (U) This cable has been cleared by U/S Burns.

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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