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Cablegate: U/S Orbe On Ecuador-Colombia, Gas-and-Go, and Bilateral

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S E C R E T QUITO 000887

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2029/10/16
TAGS: PREL MARR SNAR ECIN EC CO
SUBJECT: U/S Orbe on Ecuador-Colombia, Gas-and-Go, and Bilateral
Dialogue

REF: QUITO 704; QUITO 223

CLASSIFIED BY: Heather Hodge...


id: 230123
date: 10/16/2009 22:53
refid: 09QUITO887
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination: 09QUITO223|09QUITO704
header:
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DE RUEHQT #0887/01 2892253
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O R 162253Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0203
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0049
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0069
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV LIMA 0075


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S E C R E T QUITO 000887

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2029/10/16
TAGS: PREL MARR SNAR ECIN EC CO
SUBJECT: U/S Orbe on Ecuador-Colombia, Gas-and-Go, and Bilateral
Dialogue

REF: QUITO 704; QUITO 223

CLASSIFIED BY: Heather Hodges, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: In an October 15 meeting with the Ambassador, MFA
Under Secretary Orbe stressed that Ecuador remained committed to
improving relations with Colombia, but said the process had moved
faster than the GOE had expected. He seemed frustrated with the
setback caused by an Ecuadorian judge's arrest order against
Colombian military chief Padilla, but he believed that the process
would continue. Orbe promised to follow up on our proposal for
counternarcotics cooperation under a "Gas-and-Go" arrangement,
which is still in the hands of Security Minister Carvajal. The
Ambassador and Orbe also reviewed progress in planning for the
November Bilateral Dialogue meeting. END SUMMARY.

DEFINING AN AGENDA FOR ECUADOR-COLOMBIA RELATIONS

2. (C) MFA Under Secretary of Bilateral Affairs Jorge Orbe
emphasized that the GOE wanted to establish an agenda of "peace and
development" with Colombia and pursue confidence-building measures.
He said that the GOE was pleased with the mediation provided by the
Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center,
especially the former. He stressed that it was important for
Colombia to understand that Ecuador did not want narco-politics,
and then asserted that former Under Secretary of Government Ignacio
Chauvin (Ref B) committed his illegal acts in cooperation with the
FARC after he left government.

3. (C) Orbe confirmed that FM Fander Falconi and President Correa
had a sincere desire to re-establish bilateral relations with
Colombia, and that the Correa administration had been careful at
the highest levels to avoid antagonistic rhetoric that could
jeopardize forward progress. However, he stated that the recent
progress on re-establishing bilateral relations had gone faster
than the GOE had imagined or even wanted.

4. (C) Orbe added that both governments had a responsibility to
respond to the interests of their people to improve political and
commercial ties. Orbe suggested that the current political
environment was more conducive to a rapprochement, as Ecuador was
no longer in a campaign mode and Uribe had go-ahead to run for
election again and had less need to worry about FTA passage in the
U.S. Congress.

COMMISSION MEETINGS POSITIVE

5. (C) Orbe observed that recent meetings with the GOC had been
positive, giving as an example Defense Minister Ponce's meeting
with his counterparts on October 9 in Ipiales. He stated that the
GOE was pleased that Colombia was planning on releasing the
information on the Raul Reyes computers to Ecuador via the OAS. He
highlighted the three commissions established by the two foreign
ministers in Ipiales on October 9: Security and Crime Control (led
for the GOE by Justice Minister Nestor Arbito), Border Development
(led for the GOE by Orbe), and Sensitive Considerations (led by the
foreign ministers).

6. (C) Orbe asserted that, despite press reports to the contrary,
the October 16 and November 3 Bilateral Border Commission
(COMBIFRON) meetings in Ibarra and the October 22 Border
Development Commission meeting in Ipiales would take place as
planned. However, the Embassy confirmed with Orbe's assistant on
October 16 that the meetings had indeed been postponed.

LEGAL CASE AGAINST GENERAL PADILLA

7. (C) On the arrest warrant filed by Sucumbios Province Public
Prosecutor Jimenez containing charges against Colombian Armed
Forces chief Freddy Padilla, Orbe reiterated Ecuador's official
mantra that the judicial branch has the power to pursue such a case
independent of the Executive. Separately, Defense Minister Javier
Ponce stated publicly on October 15 that "the action of the judge
is unfortunate, as it makes the re-establishment of relations (with
Colombia) more difficult."

8. (S/NF) Orbe expressed frustration that every time progress was
made in the bilateral relationship, something happened to derail

that process. He speculated that some individuals in the GOE might
have been responsible for this last derailment. NOTE: Separately,
working level contacts at the Prosecutor General's office told us
that a representative from the Presidency and the ministries of
Government and Justice traveled to Sucumbios to encourage the
prosecutor to initiate legal action against Padilla. However, we
find this assertion odd given that the highest levels of the GOE
very publicly committed to improve the relationship. Sucumbios
province Judge Francisco Revelo will review the possibility of an
extradition request to the GOC to send Padilla to Ecuador. END
NOTE.

USG ASSISTANCE IN IMPROVING ECUADOR-COLOMBIA RELATIONS

9. (C) The Ambassador recalled for Orbe that FM Falconi had
suggested on August 5 (Ref A) that the USG could help improve
communication between Ecuador and Colombia, and asked Orbe for
suggestions. Orbe said that the USG could: 1) help Colombia gain
confidence in their bilateral mechanisms, such as the Bilateral
Border Commission (COMBIFRON), and in the GOE commitment to the
warming of relations; 2) assist in addressing the humanitarian
situation of the Colombian refugees in the northern border region
of Ecuador with programs of integration and alternative
development; and 3) help Colombia be more effective in fighting the
cultivation of drugs.

10. (C) When the Ambassador raised the ideas of bringing key
contacts from Colombia to Ecuador and vice versa, and bringing a
team from Washington to assess possible funding options for the
northern border region, Orbe did not comment. The Ambassador
emphasized that the USG was already contributing to the security
and development of the northern border region. She observed that
Defense Minister Ponce recently appeared more comfortable with the
assistance we have provided to the Ecuadorian military, such as
building or improving military detachments along the border. She
also emphasized that USAID had several programs to develop economic
opportunities in the northern border region.

GAS-AND-GO

11. (C) The Ambassador inquired as to the status of GOE
consideration of the USG's "Gas-and-Go" proposal, an arrangement
under which the USG would use Ecuadorian airports for refueling of
counter-narcotics surveillance aircraft without maintaining any
permanent USG facilities. She explained that the Embassy had not
been pressing on the issue due to possible sensitivities in
connection with the U.S. Defense Cooperation Agreement with
Colombia. She stressed that President Correa had responded
positively to the idea in January, saying, "anything in the name of
counter-narcotics." Orbe said that he did not know the status,
explaining that Security Minister Miguel Carvajal and Defense
Minister Ponce were in the lead on this decision.

12. (C) The Ambassador observed that, while she could provide no
assurances, progress on Gas-and-Go could strengthen Ecuador's case
for renewal of the ATPA. Orbe responded somewhat angrily that
Ecuador wanted to lessen the emphasis of narcotics in the bilateral
relationship, and that the GOE would not be blackmailed with
regards to the ATPA. The Ambassador noted the reality was that the
ATPA came with conditions, but that these included much more than a
review of counter-narcotics cooperation. She said that the U.S.
Congress would review the investment problems encountered by U.S.
businesses in Ecuador, as well as adherence to IPR standards, among
other criteria. She emphasized that she felt that movement on
Gas-and-Go might help Ecuador's case.

13. (C) Orbe promised to send a note to Security Minister Carvajal
and to speak personally with Foreign Minister Falconi on
Gas-and-Go. The Embassy will follow up with both ministers to
assess progress.

BILATERAL DIALOGUE

14. (C) The Ambassador said that the USG was waiting for
confirmation on the dates of November 9 for the Trade and
Investment Council and November 10 for the Dialogue. Orbe said
that the dates should work, but would confirm for us after


Falconi's return on October 16. The Ambassador noted that the USG
wanted to limit the agenda for the Bilateral Dialogue so that it
was manageable in one full day, suggesting that the plenary in
November would not be the last opportunity for engagement.

15. (C) When Orbe asked who would lead the U.S. delegation, the
Ambassador responded that if Arturo Valenzuela were confirmed by
the Senate as Assistant Secretary, he would lead the delegation.
If he were not confirmed, the Ambassador said, another senior WHA
official would likely lead. Orbe said that MFA Vice Minister
Lautaro Pozo, Trade and Integration Vice Minister Julio Oleas, or
he himself would lead the Ecuadorian delegation. He added that
Security Minister Carvajal and Coordinating Minister of Social
Development Jeannette Sanchez might attend as well. He said that
the GOE would be able to confirm attendance once the USG's
participation was confirmed.

16. (SBU) The Ambassador noted that three of the working groups
had met, and that the Migratory Issues working group was scheduled
to meet on October 20. Orbe suggested a preparatory meeting on
November 5, to include the Ambassador and higher level GOE
officials.

COMMENT

17. (C) Orbe did not elaborate on his comment that rapprochement
with Colombia had proceeded faster than "imagined or even wanted."
In any case, there has been a considerable opening of space for
renewed dialogue and cooperation between the two countries. We
will continue to explore with the GOE how the USG might assist in
facilitating communication and exchanges between Ecuador and
Colombia to foster confidence and cooperation.
HODGES

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