Cable 193428, Canciller subrogante le muestra el panorama a subsecretario adjunto McMullen
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,C O N F I D E N T I A L SANTIAGO 000162
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2019
TAGS: PREL, PBTS, ECON, OVIP, KPAO, XM
SUBJECT: CHILE: ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER’S TOUR D’HORIZON WITH DAS MCMULLEN
Classified By: Political Officer Jennifer Spande for reason 1.4 (b).
1. (C) SUMMARY: Political instability in Paraguay, an improving Chilean relationship with Bolivia, cooperation with Ecuador, and normal bilateral relations with Peru were among the highlights of Acting Foreign Minister Van Klaveren’s February 13 tour d’horizon meeting with DAS Christopher McMullen. Chile believes that Nestor Kirchner’s candidacy for the UNASUR Secretary General position may spur Uruguay and Argentina to resolve their paper mill dispute. Chile is eager to play an active role in multilateral fora, such as the upcoming Summit of the Americas. In addition, Chile is eagerly looking for ways to deepen its relationship with the U.S., suggesting high-level visits, new Chile-California initiatives, and policy planning meetings. End Summary.
2. (U) WHA Deputy Assistant Secretary Christopher McMullen and Ambassador Simons, accompanied by EPol Chief and Poloff, met with Acting Foreign Minister Alberto Van Klaveren on February 13. Van Klaveren was accompanied by outgoing MFA North American Affairs Director Carlos Appelgren and Isauro Torres. Torres recently arrived in Chile after serving as senior political officer at the Chilean Embassy in Washington, and is likely to be named as Appelgren’s successor in the near future.
Chile’s Regional View: Paraguay, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru
3. (C) DAS McMullen thanked Chile for its work in promoting moderation in the region, and noted that the U.S. was closely following events in Ecuador and Paraguay. Chile has a strong interest in both countries, Van Klaveren responded, saying that the anti-Lugo alliance appears to be consolidating, a worrying development. Lugo’s political base is complex and shifting, and there is no consensus on the initiatives he wants to implement, Van Klaveren said. The Acting Foreign Minister also noted that Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are all working to help stabilize Paraguay. Turning his attention to the north, Van Klaveren related that Chile is interested in helping Ecuador modernize the state and fight poverty, but faces resource limitations.
4. (C) The U.S. remains concerned about the situation in Bolivia, particularly given that the Mexican Sinaloa and Colombian drug cartels are operating there, McMullen told his Chilean interlocutor. President Morales appears to have little interest in improving ties to the U.S., despite the change in administrations, McMullen added. Van Klaveren responded by noting that Chile’s relations with Bolivia have improved markedly under Morales, and the two countries have developed a relationship based on mutual trust. Chilean-Bolivian relations have historically been difficult, and Chile hopes to preserve the recent improvement. Chile is most interested in political stability in Bolivia–something that only Morales can deliver at this time, Van Klaveren said.
5. (C) Chilean-Peruvian relations are “”absolutely normal”” though not at the same level as last year, Van Klaveren said. (Note: In the last twelve months, Peru has taken the disputed Chilean-Peruvian maritime border to the International Court of Justice, and a video of Peru’s military commander-in-chief making strongly anti-Chilean comments was widely viewed via youtube. End Note.) Chile was surprised by Peru’s ICJ case, Van Klaveren allowed, because of the positive relationship the Chilean government had developed with President Garcia.
U.S.-Chile Relations: Strong, and Looking to Grow
6. (C) Van Klaveren highlighted the Chile-California partnership and energy collaboration as the two new themes in the strong U.S.-Chile relationship. Torres, who recently returned from a senior position at the Chilean embassy in Washington, noted that a Board of Directors for the Chilean side of the partnership had recently been formed. There are more than 40 Chile-California initiatives underway. The new Board will help coordinate the initiatives develop a Chile-California brand open an office in Sacramento and increase government, private sector, and university involvement in Chile. Both Van Klaveren and Appelgren remarked that the original Chile-California partnership from the 1960s had been tremendously successful, and Appelgren hoped that the current focus on Chile’s future development needs helps decentralize Chile’s relations with the U.S. The Chileans are eager for Governor Schwarzenegger to come to Chile just as President Bachelet traveled to California last year.
7. (C) In terms of expanding the U.S.-Chile relationship further, Van Klaveren suggested that it might be useful to have another bilateral policy planning meeting, such as was held last year, to discuss international topics such as Asia, the Mideast, and Iran. McMullen, who participated in the Policy Planning talks in April, along with former State Policy Planning Director David Gordon and Policy Planning staffer Bill McIlhenny, agreed, noting that each side would benefit from sharing views beyond the hemisphere.
8. (C) Chile is eager to make firm plans for President Bachelet to travel to Washington, Van Klaveren said. (Note: The Chileans appear to have interpreted one exchange in the recent phone call between Presidents Bachelet and Obama as a firm invitation for Bachelet to meet President Obama in Washington in the near future, and Chilean newspapers carried stories to this effect shortly after the call. End Note.) DAS McMullen noted that the President and key Cabinet members are intensely focused on the financial crisis at the moment therefore, a Bachelet trip later in the spring might be more productive. In the short term, a visit by Foreign Minister Foxley to meet with Secretary Clinton would be easier to arrange. Appelgren clarified that the phone call between the two presidents had been so positive that Chile did not want to appear “”discourteous”” by waiting too long to take advantage of President Obama’s offer.
Summit of the Americas: Energy, Social Justice, and
Financial Crisis Key
9. (SBU) DAS McMullen emphasized that the U.S. is looking forward to the Summit of the Americas in April, and highlighted Ambassador Hector Morales’ upcoming trip to Santiago to discuss summit preparations. Key summit themes will be energy and social justice, McMullen said, though the global financial crisis will likely dominate discussions. Van Klaveren stated that both energy and social justice were important topics, and Chile has developed strong energy collaboration with the U.S. Perhaps summit participants could view the financial crisis from the perspective of how countries in the hemisphere can limit the impact on the poor, he suggested.
UNASUR: Secretary General and the Ecuador-Colombia Conflict
10. (C) Turning to UNASUR, Van Klaveren said that negotiations about a Secretary General for the organization were still at an impasse. Uruguay objects to the most likely candidate, former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, but it would likely drop this objection in exchange for progress on the issue of paper mills along the Argentine-Uruguayan border. He believed that Argentina would resolve the dispute soon.
11. (C) The U.S. appreciates Chile’s leadership in UNASUR, DAS McMullen observed, particularly in convening a summit of regional heads of state to discuss the September 2008 crisis in Pando department, Bolivia. Van Klaveren said that it was difficult to imagine UNASUR playing a productive role in the Ecuador-Colombia conflict the way it had in Bolivia. As a bilateral conflict, both nations would have to agree to UNASUR’s help. Van Klaveren remarked that he was concerned that the conflict had not/not improved and noted that Chile had urged both countries to work for a resolution. The strong personalities of the Ecuadorian and Colombian presidents are fueling the conflict, he asserted.
12. (C) DAS McMullen and Acting FM Van Klaveren’s broadly-themed meeting reflects the many areas of cooperation and shared vision that are the bedrock of the strong U.S.-Chile relationship. Chile is eager to build on this already solid partnership, and different Chilean interlocutors highlighted several ways that this could happen: visits by California Governor Schwarzenegger or Secretary Clinton to Chile a Bachelet-Obama meeting in Washington continued work on Chile-California initiatives to match their 1960s success another bilateral policy planning meeting. In the meantime, Chile remains an astute observer of regional politics, promoting moderation as the opportunity