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Cablegate: Uruguay: Incoming Foreign Minister Sends Positive Signals

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMN #0027/01 0501912
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 191912Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0263
INFO MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L MONTEVIDEO 000027

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/19
TAGS: PGOV PREL ETRD CVIS UY
SUBJECT: Uruguay: Incoming Foreign Minister Sends Positive Signals

REF: MONTEVIDEO 23 AND PREVIOUS

CLASSIFIED BY: David Nelson, Ambassador, State, Exec REASON: 1.4(B),
(D)

Summary

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

1. (C) Ambassador Nelson called on incoming Foreign Minister Luis
Almagro February 19. The two shared a warm and friendly ninety
minutes discussing Uruguay's role in regional and international
affairs, with Almagro stressing his understanding of the necessity
of active U.S. participation in any well-functioning
multilateralism. Almagro sent other positive signals on climate
change and the Pathways initiative, encouraged discretion and speed
in managing the U.S. visa issues of Uruguay's new leadership, and
appealed for help for Uruguay's wool textile industry. Almagro and
the ambassador agreed to maintain open and frequent communications.
End Summary.

Regional/Multilateral Cooperation

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

2. (C) The ambassador thanked Almagro for Uruguay's cooperation on
regional and multilateral issues, adding that the U.S. understands
and welcomes Uruguay's desire to boost its presence and visibility
on the international stage (e.g., by seeking a seat at the UNSC for
2015-16). Ambassador Nelson explained that a consequence of the
sort of international vocation that Uruguay is demonstrating is
that we will often approach his overworked and understaffed MFA
with demarches about issues of importance around the globe.
Almagro made clear that he welcomes any chance to understand our
views, saying that he and his ministry will always listen carefully
to anything the U.S. has to say. Uruguay is a strong believer in
the importance of multilateralism, Almagro continued, and effective
multilateralism is impossible without U.S. participation. Almagro
highlighted his commitment to human rights issues in international
fora.

A New Face Earns Respect

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

3. (C) Referring to unhelpful comments made last month by incoming
Minister of Defense Luis Rosadilla about U.S. participation in the
Haiti relief effort, Almagro told the ambassador that he had
addressed the issue during a meeting of President-elect Mujica's
security cabinet February 10. According to Almagro, he noted his
concerns about other cabinet ministers speaking out on foreign
policy issues, asserting himself, apparently without dissent, as
Mujica's foreign policy spokesperson. Almagro suggested and
encouraged open and frequent communications with the ambassador on
all relevant matters.

Pathways Ministerial

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

4. (C) Almagro apologized to Ambassador Nelson because he will not
be able to attend the Pathways ministerial in San Jose March 4-5.
Instead, Almagro will be sending in newly-sworn-in Vice Minister of
Foreign Affairs Roberto Conde. Almagro's predecessor, Foreign
Minister Pedro Vaz, had directed the MFA to develop a Pathways
proposal to allow Uruguay to share its successful experience with
the ""One-Laptop-per-Child"" program. Almagro told the ambassador
that while Uruguay intends to pursue that proposal, he is also
thinking about another relating to Uruguay's strong commitment to
freedom of the press. That, said Almagro, is also worthy of
emulation and suitable for sharing with the region.

Visas

-------

5. (C) The ambassador told Almagro that we will always encourage
and welcome visits of Uruguayan cabinet ministers to the U.S.,
adding that U.S. visa law will sometimes offer complications to
Uruguayan government officials, including President Mujica, whose
pasts include armed insurrection. The ambassador promised Almagro
that we will handle all sensitive visa applications with total
discretion, and asked for understanding of our laws and processes.
The news that even an application by President Mujica would require
special processing brought a demonstration of disquiet by Almagro,
and the discussion ended with Almagro endeavoring to encourage
Uruguayan officials to apply as far in advance of any U.S. trip as
possible, and the ambassador promising that the Embassy and
Department will facilitate the process to the best of our ability.

Market Access for Uruguayan Textiles

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

6. (SBU) Almagro described the plight of the beleaguered Uruguayan
wool textile industry, and asked the ambassador about the
possibilities that Uruguayan wool would one day be included in a
preferential regime. Almagro was aware that Senator Lugar had
supported the possibility of Uruguay's inclusion in a restructured
Andean Trade Preference Program. The Ambassador explained that the
ATPDEA was extended for one year in December 2009, but Uruguay was
not included.

Climate Change

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

7. (SBU) The ambassador thanked Almagro for Uruguay's timely
association with the Copenhagen Accord. Almagro stressed Uruguay's
intention to play a positive role with regard to climate change,
which he described as a personal as well as professional interest,
and to collaborate as closely as possible with the U.S. in this
area. Almagro particularly welcomed joint efforts in alternative
energy.

Comment

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

8. (C) Almagro has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence within the
MFA, as his association with President-elect Mujica's political
movement and time as foreign policy advisor to Mujica when Mujica
was minister of agriculture allowed him to move him past more
senior career officials. He is not someone with whom U.S.
officials have had a lot of interaction, so we were not expecting
the warmth with which he received the ambassador. The meeting
went much longer than expected, and Almagro seemed keen to have us
understand that he wants to maintain an excellent bilateral
relationship.
Nelson

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