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Cablegate: Codel Engel Meeting with Members of Chile's

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R 141045Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
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INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 2168
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0525
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 1131
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1838
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV LIMA 5795
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 1977

UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001005

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ECON OVIP PGOV CI
SUBJECT: CODEL ENGEL MEETING WITH MEMBERS OF CHILE'S
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES

1. (U) SUMMARY: On November 10, a U.S. Congressional
delegation led by Rep. Eliot Engel (D - NY) met with
counterparts from Chile's lower house and discussed the
bilateral relationship and U.S. policy towards Latin America.
Chilean and U.S. representatives noted the shared interests
of both countries, including strengthening democratic
institutions, promoting free trade agreements (FTAs), and
fostering education exchanges. Rep. Engel expressed his
interest in raising the profile of Latin America during the
next administration and several Chilean "diputados"
(representatives) inquired about establishing more regular
parliamentary exchanges with their U.S. colleagues.
Ambassador Simons explained that the Chile-California
partnership is a great opportunity to strengthen ties. END
SUMMARY

2. (U) The U.S. delegation included: Rep. Eliot Engel, Rep.
Lincoln Davis (D - TN), Rep. Virginia Fox (R - NC), Rep.
Maurice Hinchey (D - NY), Rep. Brad Miller (D - NC), Rep.
Nydia Velazquez (D - NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D - CA),
Ambassador Simons, and EPOLOff. Chilean participants were:
Francisco Encina (PS), Renan Fuentealba (CD), Ivan Moreira
(UDI), Carlos Jarpa (PSRD), Jorge Tarud (PPD), and Marcelo
Forni (UDI).

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"RE-FOCUS ON OUR BACKYARD"

3. (U) Rep. Engel told his Chilean counterparts that he
expects President-elect Obama will be engaged with Latin
America and thinks the "U.S. needs to re-focus on our
backyard." Rep. Engel said he will encourage Obama to attend
the Summit of the Americas in April 2009, and added that the
U.S. needs to look to its friends and allies for new ideas
and solutions to challenging problems. He explained that
President-elect Obama's first order of business will likely
be the economy, especially if Congress fails to pass an
economic stimulus package before Thanksgiving. Engel remarked
that he was impressed by Chile's ability to build
constructively after elections. He appreciated the
cooperation among various political parties and the tradition
of maintaining successful policies regardless of which party
originally implemented them. He explained that Chile is a
great friend and the large visiting delegation (8 members are
on the trip) demonstrates how much the U.S. cares about
Chile. Rep. Engel expressed interest in more regular
exchanges with the Chilean representatives and asked his
staff to follow up on the idea.

4. (U) Rep. Velazquez noted that President-elect Obama
represents a "new opportunity" because he will be more open
to listening to others and receiving guidance. She said that
Obama will pursue a policy of engagement to deal with Bolivia
and Venezuela and added that the U.S. needs to pay more
attention to social, cultural, and political issues in the
region.

DON'T LEAVE US ALONE

5. (U) Francisco Encina, president of Chile's lower house
(the Chamber of Deputies), welcomed the group by emphasizing
the strong bilateral relationship and explaining the
importance of exchanges between officials in both countries.
He stated the world needs U.S. leadership, especially to
confront the global financial crisis and the search for
alternative energy. Renan Fuentealba, president of the
International Relations committee, stressed the vigorous
defense relationship, and he asked the U.S. representatives
to consider establishing more regular exchanges with members
of Chile's lower house. Carlos Jarpa and Ivan Moreira
supported Fuentealba's call for increased exchanges.

6. (U) Moreria added that Chile serves as an economic example
for other countries because of its many FTAs. He said there
is a need to explain to other countries how to negotiate
agreements in order to eliminate fears about trade. Moreira
told the U.S. delegation "not/not to leave us alone" and
asked what U.S. policy might look like under the Obama
administration, specifically with regards to Bolivia.

7. (U) Chairman Engel has cleared on this message.


SIMONS

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