Search

 

Cablegate: Productive Meeting On Air Interdiction Agreements

VZCZCXRO4610
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #3626/01 3572243
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 232243Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9534
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/HQS USNORTHCOM
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 003626

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM SNAR KCRM MX
SUBJECT: PRODUCTIVE MEETING ON AIR INTERDICTION AGREEMENTS
WITH GOM

1. Summary. In a breakthrough meeting with Mexican
representatives from relevant national security and foreign
affairs agencies, a U.S. delegation reviewed issues related
to efforts begun in 2007 to obtain assurances that the GOM
will not damage, destroy, or disable civil aircraft while "in
service." This is a U.S. statutory requirement before USG
agencies can share air interdiction information with the GOM.
The GOM now has a better understanding of our legal
requirements and will respond in writing to our concerns, as
well as identify additional issues it would like to discuss
in the future. Both sides concurred that an eventual
exchange of diplomatic notes would be an acceptable vehicle
for securing the safety assurances the USG is seeking. End
Summary.


Background

2. In 2007, Embassy Mexico City sent to the GOM Diplomatic
Note 727, which requested consultations on language for a
proposed Aerial Interception Assistance Agreement (AIAA).
The primary purpose of the agreement was to protect civil
aviation, as well as U.S. personnel, who under U.S. law, may
be held criminally liable in certain circumstances when the
assistance they provide to a foreign government is used to
damage, destroy, disable, or threaten a civil aircraft "in
service." The language was pro forma text that the U.S.
routinely sends to all countries that seek to receive
Cooperating Nation Information Exchange System (CNIES)
data/assistance. The GOM never responded officially to our
Diplomatic Note, although informal exchanges made it very
clear that there were significant reservations on the Mexican
side.

3. Increased assistance to Mexico since the inception of the
Merida Initiative, and the potential for providing expanded
real time aerial intercept information beyond CNIES, has
heightened our need to secure an AIAA agreement that provides
GOM safety assurances required by law. All countries that
receive aerial intercept assistance from the U.S. have signed
such an agreement governing their aerial interception
practices except Mexico. These agreements fall into two
distinct categories. First, there is a standard Aerial
Interception Assistance Agreement that all countries have
signed, with the exception of Colombia (Note: These standard
AIAAs cover all assistance, radar data, intelligence,
equipment, training, etc, that could be used for aerial
interception purposes. End Note.) A separate category is
the Letter of Agreement that the USG signed with Colombia,
which provides greater operational flexibility in exchange
for much more intrusive oversight by the USG.

4. In the case of Mexico, the USG has proposed a third
option. We would ask for only minimal assurances in keeping
with the special relationship with the GOM that has
intensified under Merida. These assurances would still
satisfy the USG's requirements for providing aerial
interdiction assistance. U.S. air interdiction assistance to
Mexico is a critical tool in our mutual efforts to stop the
flow of drugs north. Thus, the USG's proposal to Mexico
distills the essential components of the AIAA in order to
protect the safety of civil aviation and U.S. personnel from
liability, while respecting the operational needs and
sovereignty of Mexico.


Latest Progress Report

5. After two years of stalled activity and fragmented
conversations, Embassy Mexico City convened a December 9
meeting that included officials from L, INL, WHA, and the
Embassy Judicial and Defense Attaches Offices and the
Political Section. This delegation met with a GOM
interagency team that included representation from the
Foreign Ministry, Transportation, Federal Police, Army, Navy,
and the Attorney General's office. The USDEL laid out the
USG requirements for an agreement, noting that our proposal
sought to focus on the minimum assurances necessary. These
include: (1) legally binding assurances that the Government
of Mexico will not damage, destroy, or disable (or make
threats thereof against) civil aircraft "in service" (defined

MEXICO 00003626 002 OF 003


as extending from the time that preflight preparations begin
until 24 hours after the aircraft has landed) (2)
Modification of section 8.3 of the Mexican aerial
interception procedures to eliminate the possibility that
such actions would give rise to liability for damaging,
destroying, or disabling (or make threats thereof against)
civil aircraft in service. Modifications should include: (a)
specifying that all efforts should be made to avoid damage to
the aircraft (not just to minimize loss of life); (b) setting
a safety perimeter around the aircraft that may not be
targeted; (c) removing all indications that strafing runs are
intended as threats; (d) agreeing to give the U.S.
information about cases where an aircraft has been hit; and
(e) issuing notices to the flying public that force will not
be willfully used against civil aircraft "in service."

6. The GOM delegation raised concerns about private planes
taking off from the U.S. that were breaking Mexican law by
entering their national airspace without a flight plan.
(Note: U.S. law does not require a flight plan for private
planes flying by visual flight rules and taking off from an
uncontrolled U.S. airport. End Note.) The GOM delegation
requested that the USG require a flight plan for all flights
in the vicinity of the border. The U.S. delegation promised
to look into the issue, but suggested not linking the issue
with the one related to safety assurances. We agreed that at
our follow-on meetings, a member of the Department of
Transportation (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
would be invited in order to address this concern and others
that may fall in the realm of general aviation and not air
interdiction.


Positive Result

7. The meeting was successful in dispelling GOM myths and
misperceptions. First, the Mexicans now understand that the
proposed assurances that the U.S. seeks would not prohibit
law enforcement action against civil aircraft "in service"
that are suspected of illicit activity. Second, the U.S.
delegation clarified that there is no hard and fast 24 hour
"quarantine" requirement under which GOM authorities would
not be able to "touch" a suspected narco aircraft after it
lands. However, there are safety requirements that have to
be respected in accordance with U.S. law. These requirements
were designed only to protect innocent civilian lives, while
leaving room for effective law enforcement action, especially
on the ground. Third, all GOM agencies agree that civil
aviation must be protected to the maximum extent possible in
order to protect innocent individuals and ensure that our
mutual counternarcotics efforts are preserved. Finally, we
emphasized that these assurances are designed primarily to
protect the liability of U.S. operators who provide
information to the GOM.


The Way Forward

8. The Mexicans agreed to take the requirements back to
their interagency and designated the Mexican Embassy in
Washington to deliver the GOM response. The Embassy will
provide us a document with the GOM's specific concerns about
the USG proposal. The GOM may also request information about
obtaining specific additional air interdiction systems.
(Note: The U.S. delegation was very clear that any agreement
we might reach will not be linked to quid pro quo provision
of greater assistance or access to additional systems. An
AIAA is but the first step to sustain current assistance, and
even begin to consider further assistance. End Note.)

9. The USG will coordinate at the NSC sub-IPC level to
formulate language for safety assurances that the USG would
find satisfactory. This language will be fed into the
Mexican interagency deliberations. Furthermore, the GOM
suggested providing these assurances through an exchange of
diplomatic notes, which the U.S. delegation accepted.

10. Comment. The Mexico meeting helped break a two-year
logjam and set us well on our way to obtaining an AIAA. The
fact that the GOM suggested a follow-up discussion in
Washington is positive. Once the Mexican position is blessed

MEXICO 00003626 003 OF 003


in a GOM interagency discussion, we should be in a good
position to work our remaining issues directly with the legal
attach in the Mexican Embassy in Washington. The key to
maintaining momentum on this issue is to address our
counterparts' concerns, while ensuring our minimum legal
requirements are met. Follow-up engagement with the Mexican
Embassy in the coming weeks can help identify those concerns
and provide an opportunity to suggest specific language that
would satisfy the assurances we are looking for. The Embassy
will stay in contact with GOM military contacts to clear up
any lingering concerns. The Embassy recommends the
Department reach out to the FAA on ways we might respond on
the flight plan issue. End Comment.
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
PASCUAL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN News: UN Strongly Condemns Knife Attack Inside Nice Church Which Left Three Dead

The UN Secretary-General on Thursday strongly condemned a knife attack inside a French church in the southern French city of Nice, which reportedly left three worshippers dead. In a statement released by his Spokesperson, António Guterres extended his ... More>>

ALRANZ: Denounces US Senate Confirmation Of Judge Barrett

ALRANZ Abortion Rights Aotearoa denounces the US Senate’s confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court seat formerly held by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. “This action demonstrates the rank hypocrisy of the once-respected upper chamber ... More>>

UN News: Millions Affected As Devastating Typhoon Strikes Viet Nam

A major typhoon has struck central Viet Nam, affecting millions of people – including about 2.5 million children – in a region already reeling from the effects of severe floods, according to UN agencies in the country. There are also reports that 174 ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>