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Cablegate: Uribe Accepts "Encounter Zone" for Humanitarian

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8405 3412052
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 072052Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0430
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7930
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9637
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9102
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5691
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0955
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1157
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6383
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4201
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 008405

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/07/2017
TAGS: PGOV PTER PREL PREF PHUM VZ FR CO
SUBJECT: URIBE ACCEPTS "ENCOUNTER ZONE" FOR HUMANITARIAN
EXCHANGE - AND OFFERS USD 100 MILLION FOR FARC MEMBERS THAT
LIBERATE HOSTAGES

REF: BOGOTA 8332

Classified By: CDA Brian A. Nichols
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

-----------------------------
Uribe Offers "Encounter Zone"
-----------------------------

1. (U) President Alvaro Uribe announced on December 7, that
the GOC would accept a Catholic Church proposal to create a
small "zona de encuentro" (encounterzone) toseek a
"humanitarian exchange" of Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC)-held hostages for FARC prisoners in Colombian
jails. The GOC previously accepted a similar European
proposal in December, 2005, which the FARC later rejected.
Uribe said the zone would need to be approximately 150 square
kilometers in size, in a sparsely populated rural area and
have no existing police or military installations. Unarmed
international observers would preside in order to "define"
the terms of the exchange. FARC fighters would not be
allowed into the area. Uribe authorized Peace Commissioner
Luis Carlos Restrepo, working with the Church, to seek
contact with the FARC to find a location for the zone.

2. (C) Presidential advisor Jose ObdulioGaviria told us the
GOC would appreciate U.S. support for the encounter zone
proposal, at least in conversations in Bogota or with third
countries. He added that the GOC would not accept a return
of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez or Senator Piedad Cordoba
to the exchange process, noting that pressure on the GOC to
do so had diminished.

-------------------------------
Low GOC Expectations for French
-------------------------------

3. (C) Gaviria also told us the GOC would continue talking
with the French on the hostage issue, but remained worried
that the French will pressure the GOC rather than the FARC
(reftel). French DCM in Bogota Alain Fort separately
confirmed that Uribe never offered French President Nicolas
Sarkozy a mediator role, and details of possible French
involvement remained unclear. Fort said Peace Commissioner
Restrepo made his December 4 announcement that he would
travel to Paris for consultations with the GOF without
consulting the GOF. Hence, the GOF deferred the visit for
"scheduling reasons." Fort also said that Sarkozy did not
coordinate his letters to FARC leader Manuel Marulanda with
the GOC; the GOF did give the GOC copies before releasing
them publicly.

----------------------------
USD 100 Million for Hostages
----------------------------

4. (U) President Uribe also announced on December 7, that
the Ministry of Defense had identified USD 100 million to
"stimulate the demobilization" of FARC members who liberate
hostages. FARC members willing to turn over their hostages
and reintegrate into society would receive payment from the
fund depending on case specifics. Uribe previously announced
that FARC members willing to demobilize and turn over
hostages would receive benefits under the Justice and Peace
Law.


Nichols

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

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