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Cablegate: Bolivia Explaining Arms Purchases

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FM AMEMBASSY ASUNCION
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0083
INFO MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/USSOCOM INTEL MACDILL AFB FL

id: 224423
date: 9/10/2009 12:07
refid: 09ASUNCION561
origin: Embassy Asuncion
classification: UNCLASSIFIED
destination:
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UNCLAS ASUNCION 000561
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON SNAR PINR PA
SUBJECT: BOLIVIA EXPLAINING ARMS PURCHASES
1. (U) Press reports that Bolivian ministers of defense and foreign
affairs are visiting Paraguay to better explain up to USD 100
million in future Bolivian arms purchases from Russia. Foreign
Minister Hector Lacognata responded to earlier press reports with
an official request for information to Bolivia. Lacognata was
critical of Bolivia's proposed military expenditures, arguing that
Bolivia should use its funds to help the poor. Lacognata requested
a meeting with Bolivian counterparts through the 2+2 mechanism.
(NOTE: Signed in March 2007, the 2+2 Mechanism was established by
UNASUR to deal with issues relating to international order. It
provides a framework for meetings between countries' Foreign and
Defense Ministers. END NOTE).
2. (U) Lacognata briefed the Senate August 19, saying Bolivia arms
purchases do not pose any threat to Paraguay because Bolivia's
objectives are to safeguard internal security and fight drug
traffickers. In Congress and among the general public, there is
much greater concern about what is viewed as the arming of Bolivia.
President of the Chamber of Deputies Foreign Relations Committee,
Carlos Liseras, said that Paraguay should worry about Bolivia
rearmament, and accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of giving
financial incentives to Bolivia to create a sense of "imminent
war." President of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Miguel
Saguier, said that Lacognata's explanations to the committee were
convincing, but that he still distrusts the Bolivian arms purchase.
3. (SBU) COMMENT: Even though the final border agreement for the
1932-35 Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia was signed this
April, Paraguay is still extremely sensitive to any attempt by
Bolivia to strengthen its military. Despite the scheduled 2+2
talks and Bolivia's recent announcement of a delay in the arms
purchases until 2010, tensions over military and border matters
will continue to be heavily covered in the Paraguayan press.
AYALDE
=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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