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Cablegate: Panama: Torrijos Opposes National Day of Mourning,

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHZP #1872 3482200
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 142200Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY PANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1555
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L PANAMA 001872

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2017
TAGS: PREL SNAR PGOV KTIA PM
SUBJECT: PANAMA: TORRIJOS OPPOSES NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING,
ABROGATION OF SALAS-BECKER

REF: PANAMA 1867

Classified By: Ambassador William A. Eaton. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d).

-----------------------------------------
Torrijos Opposes National Day of Mourning
-----------------------------------------

1. (C) "President Torrijos wants you to know his concerns
about Pedro Miguel's rant yesterday (December 13). His
proposed resolution is not this Administration's policy, and
the President does not support the idea of a National Day of
Mourning on December 20," First VP and FM Samuel Lewis told
Ambassador on December 14 on the margins a previously planned
meeting. Pressed by Ambassador whether Torrijos would veto
the resolution if the National Assembly adopted it, Lewis
dismissed the possibility that it would gain enough votes to
pass. (Note: Embassy Panama reported reftel on resolution
proposed by National Assembly President Pedro Miguel Gonzalez
(PMG), who is under federal indictment in connection with the
1992 murder of a U.S. serviceman, to establish December 20 --
the anniversary of the initiation of OPERATION JUST CAUSE --
as a National Day of Mourning.)

--------------------------------
Salas-Becker: Will Not Abrogate
--------------------------------

2. (C) Lewis also shared that Torrijos was equally disgusted
with PMG's call to abrogate the U.S.-Panama Salas-Becker
Maritime Cooperation Agreement. "That will not happen,"
Lewis said categorically. Noting that he also believed that
such an effort would not gain the support of the National
Assembly, Lewis added, "The President has stated emphatically
that he would veto it."

--------------------------------------------- ---
GOP Appreciative of U.S. Handling of PMG's Rants
--------------------------------------------- ---

3. (C) Lewis said that he and Torrijos appreciated "the
mature way" that the U.S. had managed its public and private
reaction to PMG's "rants." "Not responding to him is the way
that the U.S. and our Administration are and should continue
to deal with PMG's ludicrous outbursts." In response to
press inquiry concerning PMG's National Day of Mourning
Resolution, Embassy spokesman remarked, "We prefer to look
forward and are very satisfied to have a mature democratic
partner in Panama today."

-------
Comment
-------

4. (C) Lewis is well aware of the continuing challenges that
PMG presents to the bilateral relationship and is taking a
hands-on approach to addressing those challenges. Clearly,
he has already been in close communication with Torrijos on
both of PMG's most recent efforts to provoke not only the
U.S., but also the Torrijos Administration. Lewis'
aggressive engagement to secure Torrijos' commitment to veto
any challenge to Salas-Becker, a cornerstone of our bilateral
counternarcotics cooperation is a strong indication that he
does not want any recurrence of a PMG-related debacle that
would further damage bilateral ties.
EATON

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