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Cablegate: Chilean Dailies Hype Nuclear and Clean Energy As Bilateral

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #1314 2222135
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 102135Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1969
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 1790
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 3766
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0457
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1487
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 5198
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1739
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001314

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR R, WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG PGOV KMDR KPAO OPRC CI
SUBJECT: CHILEAN DAILIES HYPE NUCLEAR AND CLEAN ENERGY AS BILATERAL
AGENDA ITEMS FOR NEW U.S. AMBASSADOR


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Chile's most prominent dailies claim energy will
be the top agenda item of the next U.S. Ambassador. "La Tercera"
declared that the nomination of Paul Simons -- EB DAS for Energy,
Sanctions, and Commodities -- represents a decision to elevate
energy to a U.S. foreign policy priority in the region. "La
Tercera" columnist Mario Vargas Llosa went so far as to claim that
the new Ambassador "will come with the mission of persuading" Chile
to invest in and develop nuclear energy. "El Mercurio" reported
that the new Ambassador will be promoting clean energy for Chile,
and its international columnist suggested Simons would advance
cooperation on nuclear power if Chile decides to pursue that energy
alternative.

2. (SBU) With no official White House announcement of a new
Ambassador, Post has made no comment, public or private, about these
stories. End Summary.

3. (U) Conservative daily "La Tercera" in an editorial and an
article by correspondent Alvaro Vargas Llosa on August 5 asserted
that the nomination is part of a policy initiative to raise the
importance of energy issues in the hemisphere. Vargas Llosa stated
that the new Ambassador would come with the mission of convincing
the GOC that nuclear energy is a good, safe alternative for meeting
Chile's energy shortage.

4. (U) Citing an unnamed State Department source, Vargas Llosa
alluded to the recent U.S. nuclear pact with India, calling it a
precedent for other U.S. allies to follow. An unnamed Treasury
Department source reportedly claimed that there are political
considerations in the White House decision, namely enticing Chile
away from forming an energy alliance with Venezuela.

5. (SBU) The "La Tercera" assessment is based on so-called
"signals." Much weight has been given to the July visit to Chile of
U/S Nicholas Burns. In a media interview he expressed U.S.
"willingness" to "actively cooperate" with Chile in the area of
nuclear energy. (Comment: U/S Burns was responding to a question
on whether the United States would support Chile in developing this
alternative source. It is a journalistic stretch to suggest that
this was subtle pressure or a U.S. signal. End Comment.)

6. (SBU) Nuclear energy would be a controversial priority under the
current administration. President Bachelet, during her electoral
campaign, signed an agreement with environmental groups not to
develop nuclear plants during her term in office. Nevertheless, the
President did agree to a feasibility study on its possible
development in Chile. In an interview on August 10 with Vargas
Llosa, Foreign Minister Foxley said that his meeting with Secretary
Rice did not cover nuclear energy. He added that there is no
consensus on the topic in Chile and that nuclear power takes 10-15
years to develop.

7. (U) Chile's leading newspaper, "El Mercurio," on August 9
reported that Washington and Chile would cooperate in the
"development of clean energy" in Chile, taking advantage of the U.S.
experience with coal, wood, and cellulose waste. Foreign Minister
Foxley stated that with Chile's abundant forests and wood resources
cooperation with the United States is a logical decision. In its
report on Foxley's statement, "El Mercurio" worked in the Simons
appointment, noting energy would be one of his top priorities.

8. (U) On August 10, El Mercurio's international affairs columnist,
Karen Ebensperger, noted that the appointment of Simons should
bolster new U.S. political objectives in the Americas. Simons would
help reestablish Washington's influence, which had been on decline
in the region. Moreover, the promotion of biofuels would permit the
United States to reduce its own dependence on oil and counterbalance
Hugo Chavez's energy diplomacy.

9. (SBU) Comment: The Chilean media perceives that energy issues
will be the top priority of the next U.S. Ambassador. There is the
misconception, at least at "La Tercera," that promoting nuclear
energy in Chile has zoomed to the top of the bilateral agenda.
Simons is portrayed as a nuclear advocate out to convince the GOC to
pursue that option. While we await the White House announcement,
Post will, if asked, emphasize as a general theme that the new
Ambassador will cover the full range of bilateral issues. End
comment.

YAMAUCHI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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