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Cablegate: Unasur Establishes Confidence Building Mechanism

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/01
TAGS: PREL MARR AORC EC CO XM XR
SUBJECT: UNASUR Establishes Confidence Building Mechanism

REF: QUITO 983; QUITO 97...


id: 237491
date: 12/1/2009 22:43
refid: 09QUITO1009
origin: Embassy Quito
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 09QUITO979|09QUITO983
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C O N F I D E N T I A L QUITO 001009

SIPDIS
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PASS TO AMCONSUL RECIFE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/01
TAGS: PREL MARR AORC EC CO XM XR
SUBJECT: UNASUR Establishes Confidence Building Mechanism

REF: QUITO 983; QUITO 979

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

1. (C) SUMMARY: The November 27 UNASUR meeting of foreign and
defense ministers managed to reach agreement on a resolution
establishing a "confidence building mechanism," with provisions
designed to improve transparency and information sharing, provide
guarantees regarding the use and/or threat of force, and define
South America as a region of peace. UNASUR deferred discussion of
the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement until the next
ministerial, and decided to invite the USG to discuss strategic
issues and U.S. policy in the region with UNASUR. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The foreign and defense ministers of the Union of South
American Nations (UNASUR), meeting on November 27 in Quito,
approved a resolution creating a "Mechanism to Build Confidence and
Security." The agreement builds on the Bariloche Decision by
UNASUR heads of state on August 28 to "strengthen South America as
a zone of peace." In a November 28 MFA press release, Foreign
Minister Fander Falconi called the agreement a "transcendental
milestone for UNASUR, that constitutes the basis of a new
relationship in the field of security for the countries of the
region."

No Official Condemnation of the U.S-Colombia DCA
--------------------------------------------- ---

3. (C) The meeting deferred a Venezuelan proposal to declare the
South American region a zone free of foreign bases until the next
ministerial, still to be scheduled. The Ecuadorian press reported
that the absence of Colombia's foreign and defense ministers at the
November 27 also stymied the Venezuelan call for condemnation of
the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), also
deferred until the next meeting. The press referred to the lack of
a condemnation in the agreement as a "win in this round by Colombia
over Venezuela."

4. (C) Coordinating Security Minister Miguel Carvajal sought to
put a positive spin on the outcome. In a televised interview on
November 30, Carvajal said that the U.S. and Colombian commitment
to ensure that the interests of UNASUR members would not be
affected by the presence of USG personnel on Colombian bases was
affirmed by a document from Colombia, as well as a letter by
Secretary Clinton. Carvajal claimed that the United States
"changed the text (of the DCA) in the last period" to provide such
guarantees, and called this a "positive gesture."

5. (C) UNASUR has not given up on its goal to dialogue directly
with the USG on the DCA. The UNASUR resolution states that "UNASUR
considers it important to invite the United States to a dialogue on
strategic questions, of defense, peace, security and development,
in a date to be coordinated by the (UNASUR) Presidency." The
Embassy has not received any communication from the MFA regarding
such an invitation. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and
others reportedly suggested that UNASUR invite the Secretary.

Confidence Building Mechanism
-----------------------------
6. (SBU) At the conclusion of an 11 hour session, the UNASUR
members approved a resolution establishing a five-section
confidence building mechanism to improve transparency and
information sharing, provide guarantees regarding the use and/or
threat of force, and define South America as a region of peace.

-- The first section, Exchange of Information and Transparency,
creates a system for sharing information regarding defense
policies, and requires member countries to share the text of all
defense and/or security cooperation agreements as well as the
defense budgets for the last five years.

-- The second section, Intra- and Extra-Regional Military
Activities, requires member countries to notify in advance all
members of UNASUR of any defense maneuver along the border of
another country, to include details of that activity.

-- The third section, Security Measures, requires that member
countries adopt needed measures to prevent and impede the presence
or actions by illegal armed groups and to abstain from any type of
assistance to these armed groups or its members.

-- The fourth section, Guarantees, provides that the use or threat
of force by any UNASUR member country against another will be
prohibited, including any type of military aggression or threat to
stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

-- The fifth section, Completion and Verification, allows for
visits and increased military cooperation in the region and for the
verification of border situations of member states and to raise the
resulting studies to UNASUR's Council of State Leaders.

Other Regional Issues

---------------------

7. (C) Regarding the elections in Honduras, President Correa
announced from Brussels on November 27 that "the decision is made:
we will not recognize the elections under the de facto government
of Roberto Micheletti." He portrayed this as a UNASUR decision.
Correa encouraged the European Union to follow UNASUR's lead,
saying the elections "would be like a coup d'etat." However,
Peruvian Foreign Minister Jose Garcia Belaunde undercut Correa by
announcing separately in Quito on November 27 that Peru would
recognize the elections. Ecuador's MFA issued a press bulletin on
November 29 reiterating its position that the Honduran elections
were "corrupt from the outset." (Ref A)

8. (SBU) Ecuador had suggested that the UNASUR meeting agenda
include a discussion of the alleged spying by Chile against Peru.
However, Chile succeeded in its request to have the issue removed
from the agenda, according to press reports.

Low Level Attendance
--------------------

9. (C) Few ministers were present at the November 27 meeting.
Among 23 total participants, only two countries sent both their
foreign and defense ministers, namely Ecuador and Brazil. Peru and
Venezuela sent their foreign ministers, while Paraguay and Suriname
sent their defense ministers. The remaining five UNASUR countries
were represented by vice ministers or other officials.


Comment
-------

10. (C) This UNASUR meeting was a milestone in that its divided
membership managed to reach consensus on a document spelling out
confidence building measures. The Secretary and Defense
Secretary's letters clearly helped defuse criticism of the DCA.
HODGES

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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