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Cablegate: Thaw with Ecuador Evident at Haiti Summit

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/12
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KJUS PTER ETRD OAS CO EC EAID HA
SUBJECT: THAW WITH ECUADOR EVIDENT AT HAITI SUMMIT

REF: BOGOTA 3011

CLASSIFIED BY: Mark W...


id: 248705
date: 2/12/2010 17:01
refid: 10BOGOTA235
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
destination: 10BOGOTA3011
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INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
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C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 000235

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/12
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KJUS PTER ETRD OAS CO EC EAID HA
SUBJECT: THAW WITH ECUADOR EVIDENT AT HAITI SUMMIT

REF: BOGOTA 3011

CLASSIFIED BY: Mark Wells, Political Counselor; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

SUMMARY

-------

1. (SBU) The Government of Colombia (GOC) continued its leadership
in the Haiti relief effort at a February 9 UNASUR (Union of South
American Countries) meeting in Quito, Ecuador. At the summit,
President Uribe expressed his support for the summit's
reconstruction initiatives, including reducing Haiti's outstanding
debt to international lenders. President Uribe also spoke briefly
with Ecuadoran President Correa, and the two leaders announced
plans for a second such meeting in two weeks at the Rio Group
Summit in Cancun. MFA officials told us they see this as evidence
of a continuing thaw in bilateral relations. End Summary.

GOC PRIVATELY PESSIMISTIC

ON UNASUR'S ABILITIES ...

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

2. (U) President Uribe attended the Extraordinary Summit of UNASUR
countries on February 9 in Quito, Ecuador. Per ref A, the UNASUR
countries approved a $100 million UNASUR fund for Haiti as well as
a request for a $200 million loan from the Inter-American
Development Bank to be paid back by UNASUR countries. In a
post-summit press statement lauding UNASUR's declarations, Uribe
added the GOC would also participate in multilateral efforts to
reduce Haiti's external debt and would use expertise garnered from
a 1999 Colombian quake to help rebuild a mid-sized Haitian city
(septel).

3. (C/NF) Paola Lugari, Coordinator for Regional and Multilateral
Affairs at Colombia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), told us on
February 11 that the GOC was skeptical about UNASUR's ability to
effectively follow through on its pledges. She pointed out that
the body's lack of internal institutions would make it extremely
difficult for UNASUR to collect and distribute such vast amounts of
aid. She said two other possible distribution mechanisms -- giving
the money to Ecuador (as current UNASUR president) to distribute or
giving the money directly to the Haitian government -- were neither
realistic nor acceptable to the GOC. She noted that this
skepticism was behind the GOC's decision to keep pressing forward
with direct bilateral aid and assistance to Haiti.

... BUT OPTIMISTIC ABOUT

RAPPROCHEMENT WITH ECUADOR

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

4. (C) Colombian media hailed Uribe's visit to Ecuador as a sign of
improving bilateral relations. (NOTE: This was Uribe's first visit
to Ecuador since the two countries began to re-establish diplomatic
relations in November 2009. Ecuador broke ties after a March 2008
military strike against FARC Commander Raul Reyes's camp just
across the border in Ecuador. End Note). Uribe and Correa spoke
privately for about 10 minutes -- mostly diplomatic niceties and
small talk, Lugari told us -- and agreed to hold another such
discussion at the Rio Treaty Summit to be held on February 22-23 in
Cancun, Mexico. Uribe later stated in a press interview that he
hoped to quickly restore full diplomatic relations with Ecuador.

5. (C/NF) Lugari told us that MFA officials were optimistic that
the discussion signified a greater Ecuadorean willingness to
improve relations. She opined that Venezuelan President Chavez's
domestic problems were reducing his interest in regional affairs,
which allowed Chavez allies like Correa a bit more latitude. She
added that many in the GOC believe that Correa is finding his
former strongly anti-Colombia stance less politically useful and
that certain realities -- in particular Ecuador's dependence on
Colombia for energy -- were bringing him around to a more practical
policy. She concluded that the two leaders' meeting in Cancun
would likely set the tone for the bilateral relationship and hoped
that the GOE would act reasonably and show a willingness to
compromise.
BROWNFIELD

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

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