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Cablegate: Bolivian Leaders Forecast Early Agreement with U.S.

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID BO
SUBJECT: BOLIVIAN LEADERS FORECAST EARLY AGREEMENT WITH U.S.

1. (SBU) Recent statements by Bolivian President Evo Morales
and Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca have underscored
their commitment to a quick conclusion to ongoing bilateral
framework agreement talks with us, raising public
expectations of a signed accord before the end of November.
In an October 31 press conference, Morales reaffirmed that
Bolivia and the U.S. could sign an agreement this month,
based on what he described as "state-to-state" cooperation
with the U.S. and an emphasis on diplomatic, rather than
"political," relations. Morales recounted his positive
telephone exchange with Secretary Clinton on their shared
birthday, October 26, and indicated support for the Bolivian
delegation's efforts during bilateral talks the following
day. "I accepted the draft agreement, with observations,"
Morales announced, without further elaboration.

2. (SBU) For his part, Minister Choquehuanca has moved from
an initially cautious approach toward discussion of the
talks, to now speaking of a bilateral agreement as nearly a
fait accompli. On November 3, Choquehuanca disputed media
accounts that suggested a return of ambassadors was imminent,
noting that the issue is not directly addressed by the draft
framework agreement and would only be taken up once (not if)
the accord is signed. The agreement, he said, will create a
context in which relations will improve and allow the return
of ambassadors. Senior MFA officials confirmed to us
November 4 that the minister and his team are increasingly
optimistic about the prospects for an agreement this month.

3. (SBU) Comment: Morales's and Choquehuanca's statements
have been amplified by the Bolivian news media, and already
many here are beginning to take for granted that our
bilateral dialogue will yield a signed agreement by the
month's end. Although the reaction should be manageable,
failure to hold a third and final round here this month will
be viewed as a setback by many observers -- and, no doubt,
also welcomed by hard-line opponents within the GOB's senior
ranks.
CREAMER

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