A/S SHANNON MEETS WITH FOREIGN MINISTER BARCO

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06BOGOTA5515 16 June 2006 Confidencial Embassy Bogota

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BOGOTA 005515

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/30/2026
TAGS: ECON, ENRG, ETRD, PREL, PTER, SNAR, CO
SUBJECT: A/S SHANNON MEETS WITH FOREIGN MINISTER BARCO

Classified By: Charg d’Affaires Milton K. Drucker.
Reason: 1.4 (b,d)


SUMMARY


1. (C) A/S Thomas Shannon and Ambassador Wood met with
Foreign Minister Carolina Barco on May 25. They exchanged
views on Colombia’s increasingly active regional diplomacy,
Brazil’s attitude toward Bolivia and Venezuela, Chavez’s
disruptive approach on the world stage, and relations with
Chile. They also discussed assistance to the Caribbean
states. Shannon gave a readout of his visit to Brazil.
Barco reported that Peru was resisting attending an Andean
Community meeting called by Bolivian President Morales to
review the groups status following the EU-Latin American
Summit. Barco noted some resistance by Chile’s new president
to establish closer relations with Colombia.
End Summary.

2. (C) On May 25, A/S Tom Shannon and Ambassador Wood met
with Foreign Minister Barco for over an hour at the MFA.
Barco was accompanied by Vice Minister Reyes and Coordinator
for U.S. Affairs Patricia Cortes. Polcouns was note taker.

3. (C) Shannon said his visit was meant to underscore U.S.
confidence in the Colombian electoral process (presidential
elections were the following day) and the deepening
U.S.-Colombian relationship. He noted the important
relationship between President Bush and Uribe, and hoped to
build on that in Uribe’s second term should he be elected.


EFFECTIVE COLOMBIAN DIPLOMACY


4. (C) Shannon said he was impressed with the role Colombia
had played at the EU-Latin American Summit in Vienna,
especially in managing relations with Venezuela, Peru, Brazil
and Bolivia. Colombian diplomacy had successfully persuaded
the Europeans to remain understanding, patient and flexible
toward the differing views among the Andean countries about a
future trade relationship. Barco acknowledged that the
Europeans softened their position during the Summit, agreeing
to continue engaging those wanting to move forward, but not
closing the door on others, such as Bolivia. She said the EU
had agreed to give Bolivia until July 28 to take a
preliminary decision on whether to proceed with trade talks
and had expressed a willingness to work further with the GOB
if it needed special conditions. The Summit demonstrated how
complicated relations between countries in the region have
become, she said.


HIGH LEVEL MEETING ON HAITI IN BRASILIA


5. (C) Shannon noted that he had just arrived from Brasilia
where he attended the High-Level Meeting on Haiti. The
meeting had laid the foundation for a full-fledged
international donors conference this summer. He said the
international community needed to re-think how international
aid should be delivered in a country in crisis. The current
way was too slow and ineffective. The other issue was how to
transform MINUSTAH, which initially focused on security and
order in preparation for the elections, into a facilitator of
stability and development. What the international community
needed to aim at was something akin to Uribe’s democratic
security policy, which focused on building up state
institutions. Barco agreed, but expressed concern that Haiti
had also developed a large drug problem. Shannon responded
that Colombia could be a useful voice for Haiti because of
its experience in fighting narco-traffickers. Barco said
Colombia had expressed a willingness to help its Caribbean
neighbors with counter-narcotics police, and had been already
approached by several countries. She and Vice President
Santos planned to visit some of them in the next couple of
months to share GOC expertise. She praised U.S. training of
GOC public forces on counter-narcotics techniques, which in
turn now gave Colombia the capacity to assist others.

6. (C) Shannon said Trinidad and Tobago had recently
requested assistance with anti-kidnapping training (they
average about five a month), and the U.S. and UK were working
counter-terrorism issues with the West Indian nations in the
run-up to the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Noting that the World

BOGOTA 00005515 002 OF 003

Cup would attract participants and spectators from South
Asian countries, Shannon said the U.S. wanted to focus on
improving linkages between the security services of Caribbean
states.


BRAZIL, POST-PETROBRAS NATIONALIZATION


7. (C) Barco reported that she accompanied Uribe to Brazil a
week after Chavez announced he was pulling out of the
Community of Andean Nations (CAN). Uribe tried to persuade
President Lula to play a calming role. Lula told Uribe he
was "disappointed and fed up" with Chavez, and agreed to talk
to him about the future of the CAN. Uribe and Lula agreed
that they had to "listen to Morales carefully. He was
talking to different audiences, responding to different
constituencies, and was in campaign mode in the run-up to the
July 2 Constituent Assembly elections. Lula told Uribe he
wanted to approach Morales pragmatically but Bolivian
nationalization of Petrobras was costing him at home.
Political opponents were criticizing the conduct of Brazil’s
foreign policy. Barco said she had told U/S Burns during her
last visit to Washington that it was a good moment for the
U.S. to reach out to Brazil. Shannon commented that Lula
continued to be criticized in the press for his handling of
the Petrobras matter, but so far it was not affecting his
campaign poll numbers.

8. (C) Shannon reviewed his meetings in Brazil with Foreign
Minister Amorim and Under Secretaries Patriota and Felicio.
The Brazilians had worked hard to contain the fallout of the
Petrobras nationalization but remained "very upset" and
expected more trouble. A key issue was the growing tension
between Brazilian small landowners and the indigenous workers
in Bolivia. The GOB was concerned that, as Bolivia began its
land reform process, resident Brazilians would not be
prejudiced. Shannon stressed that Brazilian investment in
Bolivia was strategic leverage and not economically
motivated. Given what had happened with Petrobras, the
Brazilians told him they planned to move ahead with
additional exploration to replace Bolivian gas by 2008. The
GOB’s message to Bolivia would be that it could make a choice
between being linked to Brazil or not, but that Bolivia would
lose out if it opted to reduce ties to its largest neighbor..

9. (C) Shannon met with Amorim just after the FM’s telephone
call with Chavez. Shannon said Amorim told Chavez that
Brazil was "out of patience" and that meddling with Brazil’s
economy was damaging to Lula and Brazilian-Venezuelan
relations. Chavez’s actions were presenting an image of the
two countries competing for influence in the region, an optic
unhelpful to both. At the same time, Amorim told Shannon he
remained convinced that bringing Chavez into MERCOSUR would
give Brazil an opportunity to influence and temper Chavez.
Amorim, said Shannon, also encouraged the U.S. not to treat
Bolivia as a lost cause.

10. (C) Barco agreed with Amorim’s approach toward Bolivia.
The GOC remained determined not to close the door on Morales
just yet. Her biggest problem was Bolivian officials never
returning phone calls. Shannon said the Brazilian
authorities had recommended that foreign interlocutors speak
directly to Morales. Barco noted that Morales appeared more
willing to engage his neighbors and had called for a CAN
meeting on Andean commitments coming out of the EU-Latin
American Summit. Trade and Foreign Ministers would meet on
June 13 in Ecuador and Presidents the following day. Barco
reported that Peru still had not made up its mind about
attending; President Toledo wanted to send a message.
Shannon offered to follow up with Peru to encourage their
attendance.


VIEWS ON CHAVEZ: THE GREAT DISORGANIZER


11. (C) Shannon said Chavez had the same approach toward the
CAN, the G-3, and MERCOSUR negotiations. He was the "great
disorganizer." When operating in an organized, structured
environment, he was at a disadvantage. When the environment
was disorganized, his financial resources and ability to
rally crowds gave him the advantage. This is what he did in
Venezuela, and this is what he is trying to do abroad.
Shannon stressed that the U.S. message continued to be that
the institutions he was disrupting were important for

BOGOTA 00005515 003 OF 003

stability in the region.

12. (C) Barco, citing Chavez’s conciliatory comments toward
Uribe earlier in the week (he praised Uribe as a man
"deserving of respect" despite their ideological
differences), agreed this was the right approach. Venezuelan
Foreign Minister Rodriguez was talking to Peru and Ecuador,
trying to mend fences, which could lead to a new policy of
less belligerence. Shannon said that Chavez was also cycling
down and assessing the damage he had done to himself.
However, Chavez’s introspective moment would not last long
and ultimately would not change his behavior. He said the
U.S. had tried to establish a dialogue with Venezuela,
identifying four areas where cooperation might be possible -
- energy, commerce, counter-drug and terrorism efforts. He
had invited Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Maria Pilar
Hernandez to Washington to convey his interest in a dialogue,
and four days after her return, Ambassador Brownfield’s
convoy was attacked. Brownfield had spoken to FM Rodriguez
about a possible visit, only for Chavez to announce two days
later that if A/S Shannon wanted to come, he was welcome if
he behaved in a respectful way. Shannon said he would
continue to try to find ways to dialogue. Tension makes
people in the region uncomfortable. Barco agreed, noting
that confrontation distracts from the economic and social
programs we need.

13. (C) Barco continued that Chavez’s conciliatory remarks
toward Uribe are what he has been saying privately all along.
The GOC was also trying to maintain a dialogue and planned
to meet Rodriguez in the middle of June. Barco said she
would "pick up" on the four topics Shannon identified in her
conversations with Rodriguez, particularly on the energy
theme given plans to jointly build an oil pipeline. She
remained convinced that projects like this could help "knit
things together." Barco underscored that maintaining the
Colombian-Venezuelan commercial relationship was important to
Colombia’s economy. Chavez knows our "Achilles’ heel" is a
disruption in that trade," she said.


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CHILE: UNRESPONSIVE TO GOC OVERTURES; NON-COMMITTAL ON UNSC


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

14. (C) Barco asked Shannon for his views on Chile. The GOC
had invited President Bachelet to visit Bogota but she had so
far been unresponsive. Shannon said Bachelet would meet with
President Bush on June 8. The U.S. would try to do
everything to make the visit a success. He acknowledged that
discussions with Chilean officials on the Venezuelan
candidacy for the UN Security Council have been tough. GOC
officials have not made a final decision, but they have made
it clear they do not want to "be alone in the region" or
provoke Chavez. Chile believes it needs good relations with
MERCOSUR to retain any influence. With Morales now leading
Bolivia, their other concern was renewed tensions over their
long-standing border issue with the GOB, something Chavez
could exploit. All this suggests that Chile will likely
stick close to Brazil’s position, or push for a third
candidate but, noted Shannon, the window for that option was
closing fast.

15. (C) He underscored that the U.S. remained very concerned
about Venezuela on the Security Council. "Disorganizer"
Chavez would approach it as he has approached every other
summit or international meeting, and use the Council as a
vehicle to attack the U.S. on Iraq and divide consensus on
Iran. Ambassador recalled Venezuela’s disruptive and
unproductive behavior during the Sixth Regular Session of the
Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism, which Colombia
hosted in March. Barco noted that the Guatemalans were
actively campaigning and had done well in elections to the
Human Rights Council, where Venezuela failed to secure a
seat.

16. (U) A/S Shannon cleared this message.
DRUCKER