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Cablegate: (U) Assistant Secretary Shannon's September 23,

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C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 103384

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2018
TAGS: BL CG CU NU PREL UNGA
SUBJECT: (U) ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHANNON'S SEPTEMBER 23,
2008 CONVERSATION WITH NICARAGUAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAMUEL
SANTOS

Classified By: Classified by WHA Assistant Secretary Shannon.
Reason: 1.4 (d)

1. Classified by WHA Assistant Secretary Shannon. Reason:
1.4 (d)

2. (U) September 23, 2008; 5:15 p.m.; New York.

3. (C) Participants:

U.S.
Assistant Secretary Shannon
Hillary Thompson (Notetaker)

NICARAGUA
FM Santos
(Notetaker)

4. (C) SUMMARY. Assistant Secretary Shannon met with
Foreign Minister Santos on the margins of UNGA. Shannon and
Santos discussed Nicaragua's decision to recognize South
Ossetia and Abkhazia, political developments in Bolivia, and
the U.S. offer of humanitarian assistance to Cuba in the wake
of the recent hurricanes. They also discussed the
Governments of Nicaragua's GON's recent actions against the
International Republican Institute (IRI), MANPADs, and plans
for construction of a new canal. Santos reiterated
D'Escoto's UN message, underscoring his call for love and
understanding. END SUMMARY.

-----------------------------------------
RECOGNITION OF SOUTH OSSETIA AND ABKHAZIA
-----------------------------------------

5. (C) A/S Shannon emphasized the USG's disappointment at
Nicaragua's decision to recognize the independence of South
Ossetia and Abkhazia. Nicaragua is the only country that has
recognized the Georgian provinces other than Russia. A/S
Shannon clarified that the Nicaraguan's decision had made it
impossible to continue with Commerce Secretary Gutierrez's
planned late-September visit to Nicaragua. While a U.S.
trade delegation will make its scheduled stop in Managua,
Secretary Gutierrez will accompany the delegation only to
Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

6. (C) FM Santos justified the GON's decision stating that
Nicaragua recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia because the
provinces &had asked them to,8 likening it to U.S.
recognition of Kosovo. Santos compared Kosovo to a Pandora's
box pointing out that there are many countries throughout the
world that desire independence. Santos noted that Macedonia
is the next hot zone. Shannon reminded Santos that Kosovo's
independence had been the product of international
deliberations and a UN-driven process. The same was not true
for the breakaway Georgian provinces.

-----------------------
U.S.-Bolivia Relations
-----------------------

7. (C) A/S Shannon conveyed that the United States was
disappointed by Bolivia's decision to expel Ambassador
Goldberg and by Venezuela's decision to follow-suit by
expelling Ambassador Duddy. Bolivia is prejudicing its
relations not just with the current U.S. Government, but also
with the new administration that will take control in 2009.

8. (C) Santos pointed out that while both Bolivia and
Venezuela had expelled the U.S. ambassador, they had not
taken actions against the U.S. missions in these countries.
He suggested that this was a strong positive signal that the
governments want continued relations with the United States.
Shannon replied that if expelling our ambassador was a
positive signal, he wondered what a negative signal would be.

--------
MANPADS
--------

9. (C) A/S Shannon inquired whether President Ortega would
reconsider the U.S. offer for medical supplies in exchange
for destruction of MANPADs. This would be an important
symbol of partnership between the two countries. FM Santos
consented that the deal would be beneficial for Nicaragua and
agreed to speak with President Ortega about it.

----------------------------
NICARAGUA'S DOMESTIC AGENDA
----------------------------

10. (C) Santos outlined the GON's priority of reducing
poverty in Nicaragua through increased education. Shannon
offered that the United States is looking for ways to assist
the GON, but that Nicaragua's rhetoric and diplomatic stunts
complicate our ability to cooperate.

11. (C) Santos also raised Nicaragua's desire to move forward
in constructing a &Gran Canal.8 The first step would be to
organize a stakeholder's meeting of interested countries in
Managua and to form a commission to study construction
requirements including the ecological impacts. He noted that
the French had expressed interest in the details of the
project and that, while the South Koreans had not overtly
stated their interest, they had opened their first embassy in
Nicaragua.

-------------------
CHARGES AGAINST IRI
-------------------

12. (C) When asked about recent charges brought against IRI
in Nicaragua, FM Santos maintained that IRI has been
providing financial support to opposition groups &under the
table8 and that the GON felt obligated to respond. A/S
Shannon underscored that the USG's goal in working through
organizations like IRI and the National Democratic Institute
(NDI) is not to cause political strife or to finance
opposition groups, but instead to work with civil society to
combat poverty.

-------------------------------
HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO CUBA
-------------------------------

13. (C) A/S Shannon described U.S. offers of assistance to
Cuba in the wake of the recent hurricanes. The United States
first offered the Government of Cuba up to $5 million in
humanitarian assistance to be delivered to the island via
civilian aircraft and later offered an additional $6.3
million in additional reconstruction materials. The USG is
awaiting a response to the most recent offer. The Government
of Cuba is using hurricane relief as an opportunity to attack
the U.S. embargo rather than recognizing the chance to work
productively with the United States to benefit the Cuban
people.
RICE

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