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Cablegate: Argentina: Firm Offer of 200 Additional Peacekeepers For

VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0154/01 0411351
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101350Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0498
INFO MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000154

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MASS MOPS PREL EAID HA AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: Firm Offer of 200 Additional Peacekeepers for
Haiti

1. (SBU) Summary: Ambassador met February 5 and February 8 with
Defense Minister Nilda Garre and Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana,
respectively, to confirm Argentina's offer of additional
peacekeepers to Haiti. Both confirmed that the formal offer to the
UN had been made. Garre said the offer was for a mixed group of
soldiers and marines; her Vice Minister, Alfredo Forti, thought
that the UN would accept 150 to 175 troops. Taiana shared a
concern that previous development assistance to Haiti had not been
well-designed to strengthen government institutions and urged that
we coordinate reconstruction efforts with this goal in mind.
Taiana's office issued a press release (which was transmitted in
its entirety by State news agency TELAM) following the meeting
emphasizing that he had urged the United States to coordinate
assistance through the United Nations. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador, accompanied by Defense Attache and Military
Group Commander, met February 5 with Minister of Defense Nilda
Garre to confirm that an offer of additional peacekeeping troops
for Haiti had been made by the Government of Argentina to the UN.
Garre said the GOA had formally offered 200, a mix of army and
marines. Vice Minister Alfredo Forti said that initial feedback
was that the UN would accept 150 to 175 only due to an excess of
volunteers. The troops will fly charter aircraft to Haiti and be
supplied by the Argentine vessel San Blas. Argentina's
peacekeepers already in Haiti will undergo a rotation in the first
half of May.

3. (SBU) Garre emphasized the urgency of a pending GOA request for
a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) purchase of water-drilling equipment
to support a joint Argentine-Peruvian Engineering battalion. She
described this as very important to Argentina.

Foreign Minister Urges Reorientation of Development Aid

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

4. (SBU) Ambassador, DCM and Pol-Mil Officer met Monday February 8
with Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana, who confirmed that the formal
offer of additional peacekeepers had been made. Argentina was
awaiting confirmation that they had been accepted, he said.

5. (SBU) Minister Taiana urged that the United States and the
international donor community "recognize and support Haitian
government authorities" in providing reconstruction aid to the
country. He said that international assistance over many years
leading up to the earthquake had not been designed to support the
legitimacy of the government in the eyes of Haitian citizens. He
pointed to European donor assistance as one example, as it was
chiefly distributed through non-governmental organizations.
"Perhaps this terrible disaster can help us become more effective
in reconstructing and supporting the government through our
assistance," he said. Taiana also urged that more assistance be
coordinated through the umbrella of the United Nations, something
he believed had been done successfully in post-conflict El
Salvador.

6. (SBU) Taiana described these as challenges to be taken up at the
next international ministerial on Haiti in March. Asked by the
Ambassador who would attend for Argentina, he said it would at
least be at the level of his Vice Minister (Victorio Taccetti) and
that perhaps he would attend.

7. (SBU) Both Taiana and Defense Minister Garre described
Argentina's agricultural extension project "Pro-Huerta" as a
significant local development success in Haiti. The project
replicates work done previously in Argentina to build subsistence
and truck farming capacity and to meet the country's needs for
fresh foods. Garre, who visited the Argentine contingent in Haiti
in September 2007, said that assistance had been provided to 60,000
different gardens.

8. (SBU) Although she did not address the specific theme of
building government institutions, Garre presented a somewhat more
positive view of international development work in Haiti prior to
the earthquake. She said that the country had shown marked
improvement in sanitation, public order, and economic development
over the course of her visits between 2006 and 2009. Garre
described public security as among the biggest needs, saying that
she had estimated the country needed between 1000 and 1200
additional police and prison security personnel before the
earthquake.

Foreign Ministry Press Release Urges UN Role

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

9. (SBU) Soon after issuance of our positively-toned press release
on the meeting between Foreign Minister Taiana and the Ambassador
(which was cleared with the Ministry), the Ministry issued its own
release without coordination. The GOA release emphasized that
Taiana had urged upon Ambassador the importance of letting the
Haitian Government design its own reconstruction and development
plan and the importance of coordinating U.S. assistance through the
United Nations. The Ministry's release -- transmitted in its
entirety by State news agency TELAM -- was picked up as an
admonition to the USG in most major daily papers. Taiana departed
later on the February 8 for the UNASUR meeting in Ecuador on the
topic of assistance to Haiti.

10. (SBU) Comment: Many GOA officials have approved of the massive
U.S. assistance to Haiti and have steered clear of regional
conspiracy theories about USG intentions. The GOA has also not
been shy about asking for assistance from the USG, especially the
U.S. military, to support its efforts in Haiti. That said,
Argentina's political leadership has chosen to perceive excessive
unilateralism in the U.S. response, probably to maintain a posture
of independence from the USG, and will likely support a regional
request that U.S. assistance be coordinated through the UN. End
Comment.
MARTINEZ

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