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Cablegate: Ambassador Meets Argentine Vp Cobos

VZCZCXYZ0012
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1156/01 2961254
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 231254Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4510
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 001156

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2029
TAGS: PREL PTER SNAR KTIP SENV AR
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR MEETS ARGENTINE VP COBOS

REF: (A) BUENOS AIRES 0971 (B) BUENOS AIRES 0653 (C)
BUENOS AIRES 1148

Classified By: CDA Tom Kelly for reasons 1.4 (b) & (d).

1. (C) Summary: Argentine Vice President Julio Cobos, long
estranged from the Kirchners and now the country's most
popular politician and leading contender for the presidency
in 2011, received the Ambassador for a warm and friendly
half-hour introductory courtesy call in his Senate office
October 23. Cobos regretted a small anti-U.S. protest in
Mendoza, his home province, but the Ambassador assured him
that it had not marred her visit there, and that she was
eager to return. Cobos gave a tour of the horizon that
touched upon international relations, the economy, education,
the environment, and other issues. End summary.

Student Protests
----------------

2. (C) The Ambassador paid her introductory call on Argentine
Vice President Julio Cobos in his Senate office October 23
accompanied by Polcouns. Cobos offered his regrets to the
Ambassador for the student protesters she encountered (ref C)
in Mendoza, his home province. (Note: Cobos had called the
embassy shortly after the October 15 incident to express
sympathy and concern.) The Ambassador said she had grown
accustomed to student protesters during her 14 years of
service on the Board of Regents of the University of
California, and she assured him that it had not marred her
visit there, and that she was eager to return. Cobos said
he, too, endured many student protests while serving as dean
of a technical university in Mendoza.

Tour of the horizon
-------------------

3. (C) Cobos congratulated the Ambassador on President
Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, and he said he was confident that
President Obama would live up to the high expectations the
international community had of him. He said he hoped
Argentina would continue to be a strategic partner for the
United States in combating narco-trafficking, terrorism, and
trafficking in persons. Cobos told the Ambassador he thought
Argentina's political class needed to develop a longer-term
vision. He noted that economic growth in Argentina had been
very uneven, and that Argentina's recent growth spurts had
failed to translate into sustained economic development. He
expressed optimism that regional integration via Mercosur
would be a boon to Argentina, and he noted that the United
States was Argentina's third biggest trading partner.

4. (C) Cobos said he hoped the new administration in
Washington would work to reduce trade barriers, specifically
on lemon and beef imports. Cobos claimed his home province
of Mendoza (""the California of South America"") was the fifth
largest wine exporter in the world. He noted that water
resources and climate change had become of great concern to
Mendoza, which had less than 200 mm of rainfall annually.
Even with minimal rainfall, however, Mendoza was diligently
exploiting irrigation to great effect in its agriculture and
forestry. He was pleased that the Argentine Senate the
previous day had unanimously approved new legislation
governing Argentine glaciers, and he credited the recent
visit to Argentina by former vice president Al Gore for
spurring movement on the legislation. The Ambassador noted
there were many areas for potential cooperation related to
climactic change, citing NASA's upcoming launch of an
Argentine satellite that will gather, among other things,
meteorological and oceanographic data that will help track
trends.

5. (C) Cobos praised Argentina as a country of great racial,
ethnic, and religious diversity which nonetheless managed a
peaceful coexistence of its various communities. He said it
was remarkable that Argentina was still able to provide free
university education but worried that education standards
were rapidly declining, particularly at the primary level.
He attributed this to a move away from the basics to a
curriculum more focused on new technology. He said he was
also troubled by the loss of respect for teachers and school
authorities and the implication for school discipline. This
led Cobos to express some unease about a growing disregard in
Argentina for social comity, and the Ambassador quoted Benito
Juarez's observation that ""respect for the rights of others
is peace.""

6. (C) He asked about health care reform in the United
States, and the Ambassador recapped recent legislative
progress on the President's proposals. She also noted that
U.S. epidemiologists at the center for Disease Control and
elsewhere were learning from Argentina's experiences and
looking for best practices in coping with H1N1 influenza
during the recently concluded austral winter. Cobos said it
was a relief that Argentina had survived the influenza season
but worried about expected dengue outbreaks in the
approaching austral summer season.

Comment
-------

7. (C) As in previous meetings with U.S. officials, Cobos was
warm and gracious, conveying open admiration for President
Obama and the United States with an ingratiatingly
unpretentious style.

MARTINEZ

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