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Cablegate: Mexico Supports Updating Agreement On Natural

VZCZCXRO5155
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #6218/01 3522211
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 182211Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9955
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 2350

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 006218

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMEX ECON CA MX SENV
SUBJECT: MEXICO SUPPORTS UPDATING AGREEMENT ON NATURAL
DISASTER COOPERATION

1. The Government of Mexico welcomes the opportunity to
expand bilateral cooperation to respond to natural or
man-made disasters and to update the 1980 agreement entitled
"Agreement between the Government of the United States of
America and the Government of the United Mexican States on
Cooperation in Cases of Natural Disasters." The Calderon
Administration has demonstrated a refreshing openness in
accepting international aid in response to national
disasters, and a justifiable pride that Mexico has delivered
aid to help its neighbors during similar crises, such as
Hurricane Katrina and recent fires in Southern California.
This open door in dealing with natural disasters is
consistent with the unprecedented practical cooperation
Mission is experiencing across the broad spectrum of our
relationship - in law enforcement (anti-narcotics,
anti-organized crime), disaster response, and facilitating
legitimate trade (e.g. March 2007 Bush-Calderon agreement in
Merida committing both governments to cooperate to facilitate
the flow of legitimate commerce across our common border).
Disaster relief is the latest example of GOM interest in
working practically with the USG to address shared problems
across our common border.

2. Reftel demarche was delivered December 17 by poloff and
USAID's Mission Disaster Relief Officer in a meeting with the
Mexican Foreign Ministry's (SRE) Alejandro Estivill Castro,
Director General of the North American Office, and Maximo
Romero Jimenez, Deputy Director of the Economic Relations and
International Cooperation Unit. Mexican officials expressed
strong interest in reviving the U.S.-Mexican 1980 agreement
on natural disasters as follow-up to last August's SPP
meeting in Montebello. Estivill noted that the 1980
agreement was out-of-date )- several Mexican institutions
identified no longer exist )- and doesn't fully tap the
potential for us to do more cooperatively to better address
natural disasters. He maintained the GOM would seek to
develop draft amendments to our 1980 agreement that SRE could
discuss with Emboffs the week of 1/21 and with Washington
counterparts the week of 1/28. Estivill envisioned Mexico's
delegation to Washington being led by the Director of SRE's
Economic Relations and International Cooperation Unit
accompanied by representatives from Mexico's Ministry of
Government/Office of Civil Protection, Health Ministry,
Environmental Ministry, Ministry of Social Development, the
Armed Forces (Army and Navy), Finance Ministry, and Ministry
of Communication and Transportation.

3. Estivill was aware that USAID had sponsored a number of
seminars over the past year in Central America and the
Caribbean to better prepare for and respond to natural
disasters. He conveyed Mexico's desire to work with its SPP
partners to foster a deeper sense of a "North American
identity" part and parcel of which we would coordinate
efforts to assist other nations in the region on natural
disaster relief. Romero mentioned that Mexico's Congress was
working on legislation to create a new, semi-autonomous
office within the Foreign Ministry that would receive and
administer foreign assistance targeted for disaster relief in
Mexico, but which would also obtain GOM funding to extend
disaster relief to other States in need. Notwithstanding the
obstacles, he hoped Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. could begin
to consider creating a joint fund for disaster relief in the
region in furtherance of the concept of a North American
identity. He acknowledged it was probably premature to
address this kind of mechanism in the context of our current
agreement.

4. The SRE's Deputy Director for North America, Sergio
Zapata, wondered about Canada's role in discussing natural
disaster relief in the context of the SPP. USAID's Mission
Disaster Relief Officer explained that we considered it
simpler to discuss these matters bilaterally first in the
context of our respective cooperation agreements. Once those
agreements were renewed, we would all be in a better position
to coordinate and reconcile our efforts on a trilateral
level. Estivill appreciated this approach and signaled
Mexico would approach Canada similarly on a bilateral level
to ensure Mexico's agreement with the Canadians was updated.

5. David Najera, the SRE's Advisor on Special Issues (Drug
Trafficking, TIP, etc.) understood NorthCom assumed a role in
the U.S. domestically and internationally in facilitating
disaster relief. He urged we consider the role "security"
assumes in addressing disaster relief and recommended we
reflect on how to ensure NorthCom's special role is
considered as we move forward in discussing how to improve
our cooperation. USAID's Mission Disaster Relief Officer
spoke to the contribution NorthCom makes to disaster relief
efforts. USAID, under the direction of the Embassy Front
Office, assumes the lead for coordinating USG assistance
overseas on natural disasters, including NorthCom.

MEXICO 00006218 002 OF 002

6. Mexico-U.S. relations on disaster relief coordination
stand at an all-time high. The Calderon Administration's
first experience in disaster management came a few months ago
with Hurricane Dean. Embassy senior management worked
directly with Mexican counterparts to explain how the USG
delivers emergency assistance through grants, primarily
through NGOs, yet expects to coordinate all assistance
efforts through the GOM. Mexico accepted U.S. assistance for
Hurricane Dean, and used those lessons in a broader
international relief response to the recent floods in Tabasco
and Chiapas. In the case of these massive floods, SRE
reached out to the broader international community, and
requested specific assistance from the U.S. (Note. The GOM
has been reluctant about this kind of approach in the past.
End Note.) This unprecedented relationship can be attributed,
at least in part, to more open communication at all levels
and a clear understanding that it is perfectly normal for
countries to help their neighbors since each has its share of
natural disasters that directly or indirectly affect the
other. Mexico was pleased to have been able to assist the
U.S. during the recent California fires and following
Hurricane Katrina in 2005. On December 14, the SRE and
Tabasco State officials gave international donors a two hour
presentation on how international funds were used to respond
to the floods and the progress achieved to date.

7. Comment. Mexico is serious about reviving and revising
our 1980 agreement on national disasters. It sees ways we
can better define our efforts while keeping the agreement
flexible. The national government recognizes there are many
city-to-city and state-to-state efforts to respond to
localized disasters (floods, fires, etc.). GOM officials
recognized that the national government does not want to
hinder these city and state level activities, yet there is a
need for better communication and coordination between local
and federal levels. SRE welcomes our seeking to update the
agreement as a deliverable for the February meeting at the
Minister-level, but recognizes the limited time to accomplish
that. Mexico requested we identify a contact office/person
in the Washington that its Embassy could approach on this
matter. The GOM also requested we let them know which USG
offices will participate in the meeting in Washington in
January; providing that info may also prompt them to cut back
on their numbers. Embassy Mexico suggests that much of the
preliminary discussions can be held in Mexico City with
Embassy staff representing USG interests. We will develop
for Washington's consideration a list of elements we would
suggest be integrated into an updated agreement and would
like to proceed with discussions here to better lay the
ground work for productive formal meetings in Washington that
result in a revised bilateral agreement.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
BASSETT

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