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Cablegate: Iraq-Iran-Syria; Tri-Border Area; Gsp; Argentine-Venezuelan

VZCZCXYZ0019
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2754/01 3490949
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 150949Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6759
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
RULGPUA/USCOMSOLANT

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002754

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: IRAQ-IRAN-SYRIA; TRI-BORDER AREA; GSP; ARGENTINE-VENEZUELAN
TIES; AMBASSADOR WAYNE'S MEETING WITH ARGENTINE BUSINESSMEN;
12/11/06; BUENOS AIRES


1. SUMMARY STATEMENT

Weekend stories focus on the USG's reaction to the report from the
Iraq Study Group; the follow up on the US Treasury Department's
designation of individuals and entities supporting Hezbollah in the
Tri-Border area; the status of Argentine-Venezuelan ties; and US
Ambassador Wayne's meeting with Argentine businessmen.

2. OPINION PIECES

- "Bush rejects a dialogue with Iran and Syria"

Daily-of-record "La Nacion's" Washington-based correspondent Hugo
Alconada Mon writes (12/08) "Bothered by the pressure emerging as a
result of the release of a critical report from the Iraq Study
Group, President George W. Bush acknowledged yesterday that the
situation there is bad, although he took distance from the two main
points of the document -eventual US troop withdrawal and opening
dialogue with Iran and Syria.

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"During a press conference, Bush downplayed the influence of a
report from the bipartisan committee, although he acknowledged that
the coalition needs 'a new approach' to the occupation of Iraq.

"The US president made it clear that he would 'seriously analyze'
the report, but that he would not adopt the 79 recommendations that
were unanimously approved by the group...

"... Bush pointed out that he should be 'flexible and realistic'
when ordering US troop movements. He also set tough conditions on
establishing dialogue with Iran and Syria. He said that both
countries should first stop funding Hezbollah and Hamas and, in the
case of Tehran, it should relinquish its controversial nuclear
program."

- "The US - the old guard is called to 'put things in order'"

Oscar Raul Cardoso, international analyst of leading "Clarin,"
writes (12/09) "... George W. Bush has called the most moderate and
experienced conservative Republicans to get out of the chaotic
situation in Iraq...

"The Iraq Study Group report recommended putting aside the current
confrontation with Iran and Syria and arriving at some kind of
negotiation with them, and also renewing the peace process between
Israelis and Palestinians... Therefore, it raised mistrust in both
the Bush administration and the influential Israeli lobby... The
feeling is growing that the US is paying too high a price in the
world for its growing confrontation with the Islamic world.

"... Anyway, Washington will not abandon Israel to its fate in the
near future. However, a debate on the change of emphasis in the US
approach to the Middle East conflict is a possibility that should
not be fully dismissed."

- "AMIA - the (Argentine Government) is investigating a US
designated terrorist"

Daniel Santoro, political columnist of leading "Clarin," writes
(12/09) "In spite of the Argentine Government's rejection of a US
report (designating nine individuals and organizations as financial
supporters of Hezbollah), Lebanese Assad Barakat is being
investigated by SIDE (Argentine central intelligence unit) for his
alleged financial support for the attack against the AMIA
headquarters.

"Barakat was designated by a US Treasury Department report as the
leader of a network of financial and logistical support for
Hezbollah...

"The report was rejected by the Foreign Ministries of Argentina,
Brazil and Paraguay in a joint communiqu. Defense Minister Nilda
Garre said that 'intelligence services of our three countries do not
have any information or assessment of terrorist activities related
to Hezbollah in the region."

- "The US charges the Tri-Border with some 'help'"

Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent for
daily-of-record "La Nacion," writes (12/10) "According to two USG
sources, the Governments of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay were
notified by the US that a network related to Hezbollah is reported
to be acting on the Tri-Border area one week before the US Treasury
Department made it public.

"Washington has its own 'methods' to gather intelligence information


related to the area, but it also received the cooperation of the
intelligence services of the three countries to designate nine
individuals and two institutions as part of the network...

"According to one of the sources consulted by 'La Nacion' in this
city, 'Argentine intelligence services are very professional and we
received a good deal of information from part of them.'"

- "Garre criticizes the report on the Triple Border"

Leading "Clarin" (12/08) reports "The (Argentine) Government again
rejected the US Treasury Department's designation of individuals and
organizations supporting Hezbollah terrorists in the Tri-border
Area.

"This time, it was Argentine Defense Minister Nilda Garre who
rejected the report... She said that 'the existence of direct
supporters for Hezbollah 'is unknown.'"

- "Brazil joins Argentina against US report on triple border
'terrorism'"

Liberal, English-language "Buenos Aires Herald" reports (12/09)
"Echoing Argentina's rejection, Brazil has rejected US sanctions
against alleged terrorist fundraisers in the triple-border area...

"The Brazilian FM announcement late on Thursday indicated that the
three South American governments are unwilling to place complete
trust in US assertions about the war on terror.

"Washington on Wednesday imposed sanctions on what it termed a major
fundraising channel for Hezbollah in the tri-border area, focusing
on nine people plus a shopping center in Paraguay and an electronics
company located there...

"... Brazil said that representatives of three countries met in
Buenos Aires this week and decided there was not 'any new data or
evidence that corroborates the accusation by the US.' It also said
the US had failed to prove oft-repeated suggestions that the region
itself is a hotbed of terrorist financing."

- "The US will maintain GSP benefits for the country"

Hugo Alconada Mon, Washington-based correspondent, writes (12/10)
"Last but not least, and contradicting the alleged purpose of the US
to impose sanctions on Argentina for having supported Venezuela's
entry into the UN Security Council, the US Congress extended for two
years the benefits allowing some Argentine products to enter the US
markets without tariffs.

"Legislators extended the GSP until the end of 2008, and imposed new
requisites so that the program can benefit the poorest countries of
the world, although this did not affect Argentine exports."

- "In Olivos, Kirchner explained his relationship with the US to
Chavez"

Daily-of-record "La Nacion's" political columnist Mariano Obarrio
writes (12/09) "President Nestor Kirchner told his Venezuelan
counterpart, Hugo Chavez, that 'for some time' he will have to
portray their bilateral ties 'as commercial rather than political,'
because the Argentine Government needs rapprochement with the USG
not to jeopardize its victory in 2007 (presidential elections).

"Kirchner explained in detail the trip to be made in April by First
Lady Cristina Kirchner, a potential presidential candidate, to
Washington in order to got closer to the US Democratic Party.

"Instead, Kirchner guaranteed Chavez that Alicia Castro, a devoted
Chavist, will continue serving as Argentine Ambassador to Venezuela.
There was talk about her 'instability.' A governmental source told
'La Nacion' that 'it was a gesture; Castro is an ambassador
requested by Chavez.'

"Chavez is reported to have told Kirchner the name of the new
Venezuelan ambassador, Roy Chaderton, a moderate who could replace
Roger Capella, who was recalled to Venezuela after a bilateral
crisis that caused Luis D'Elia's resignation to his governmental
position.

"... Venezuelan governmental sources have confirmed that
'(Argentine-Venezuelan commercial ties are OK, although the
political and diplomatic ones are not that well.'

"... Chavez is surprised by the US Ambassador, Earl Anthony Wayne,
active schedule, which included visits to almost all ministers of


Kirchner.

"Argentine Government's sources confirmed to 'La Nation' that 'ties
with Venezuela have been put in order,' which were altered since
(Ambassador) Wayne's arrival."

- "The end of the strongest strike opened up a confrontation within
the (Argentine) Government"

Marcelo Bonelli, economic columnist of leading "Clarin," comments
(12/08) "... The need for structural reforms was the focus of a
private meeting between businessmen, economists and US Ambassador
Earl Wayne. Last week, Wayne called Antonio Estany Gendre, Alberto
Grimoldi, Carlos Helbling, Miguel Kiguel, Mario Vicens and Julio
Piekartz, to analyze the economic situation.

"They said that the Argentine Government is not implementing
profound reforms. Economists insisted that growth is being hampered
by the energy situation and the price control strategy. They were so
critical that US Ambassador Wayne had to tone things down and give a
more optimistic view. Before finishing, Wayne looked at them and
said 'I am equally surprised. Previously, I did not expect
Argentina's recovery to be sustainable."

3. EDITORIALS

- "Tri-Border is an issue of concern"

Conservative "La Prensa" (12/09) editorializes "The so-called
Tri-Border area... is again an issue of concern for the Argentine
Government, which rejected a US Treasury Department designation
because it contradicted a joint statement that agreed to at the
beginning of the week by the members of the Three plus One Group...


"... The US Treasury Department report is specific about designating
those who financially support terrorist organizations and everything
indicates that the path of the money was followed in an objective
way before issuing a statement... Perhaps, the Argentine Central
Bank authorities and those of the involved neighboring countries
should start analyzing new strategies to verify the legality of
several commercial transactions in the area, as well as intensify
checks on the traffic of merchandise and persons and establish a
permanent state of alert by the security forces located in the
area."

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

WAYNE

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