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Cablegate: Uk Agrees On Need to Help Colombian Government

VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLO #1997 2141015
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 011015Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9355
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 0295
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0279
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEABND/DEA WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L LONDON 001997

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/01/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL SNAR PTER CO UK VE
SUBJECT: UK AGREES ON NEED TO HELP COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT
KEEP THE PRESSURE ON FARC, DESPITE SOME DOMESTIC OPPOSITION

REF: STATE 77205 Classified By: Political Counselor Richard Mills for reasons, 1.4 b and d

1. (C) HMG is "100 percent on the same page as the United States" regarding FARC and the need to aggressively combat narcotics trafficking, Tony Kay, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Colombia and Venezuela Desk Officer told us July 31 during a discussion of reftel demarche. Kay stressed that UK policy toward Colombia "leans heavily on institution building," with a "large proportion" of the UK's activities in Colombia focused on capacity building, through training and mentoring, to interdict drug traffickers. Given that HMG's resources in Latin America are limited, Kay continued, the UK focuses on those issues where it can have an impact and where the issues impact Britain. Drug trafficking meets those criteria, Kay stressed.

2. (C) Kay cautioned, however, that HMG faces a "strong NGO and political lobby" in Britain urging the UK to stop aid to the Colombian government due to concerns about the treatment of Colombian trade unions. Nonetheless, HMG's policy will continue to "welcome progress and encourage continued attention" to areas for improvement. Kay asserted that other EU members share this view and agree the drug trade should be attacked. Kay noted that the treatment of trade unions has markedly improved. Further, the FARC is a "proscribed terrorist organization," a point on which HMG has been and will remain clear.

UK Views on Venezuela ---------------------

3. (C) Turning to Venezuela, Kay characterized the UK's attitude toward President Chavez as "cautiously constructive engagement," including in regard to narcotics trafficking. After listing the various problems besetting Venezuela (including rising crime and inflation) Kay observed that it is "almost impossible to engage on the constructive side with Venezuela" on a substantive level. Kay stated, for example, that providing Chavez and Venezuela technical capacity to fight narcotics would result in the assistance being misused, given widespread corruption. Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX LeBaron

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