ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHANNON MEETS WITH CHILEAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE

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07SANTIAGO687 27 April 2007 Confidencial / No para extranjeros Embassy Santiago

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C O N F I D E N T I A L SANTIAGO 000687

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SIPDIS
NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/25/2017
TAGS: PREL, MARR, OTRA, CL
SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SECRETARY SHANNON MEETS WITH CHILEAN
MINISTER OF DEFENSE

REF: A. STATE 46501
B. SANTIAGO 00639
C. SANTIAGO 00546 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Ambassador Craig Kelly for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: WHA Assistant Secretary Shannon and Chilean
Minister of Defense Jose Goni exchanged views on regional
issues and the U.S.-Chile bilateral military relationship
during their April 24 meeting. Goni told A/S Shannon he
valued the close relationship between the U.S. and Chilean
militaries. Regionally, military to military cooperation was
improving, with the Chile - Argentina joint peacekeeping
force on track, as well as confidence-building measures with
Peru and Ecuador. Chile is watching closely Venezuela’s
military initiatives in the region, particularly in Bolivia,
but these "are not a matter of concern at this point." Goni
stressed the GOC’s commitment to Haiti and predicted the
Chilean Senate would likely extend Chile’s participation in
MINUSTAH for another year when it comes up for a vote in May.
The Senate recently approved the GOC request to extend the
27-person commitment to EUFOR (Bosnia). The GOC will soon
introduce a bill to Congress to regularize future Chilean
contributions to peace-keeping operations. End Summary.

2. (U) A/S Shannon called on Defense Minister Jose Goni
April 24 during his April 24-26 visit to Chile. A/S Shannon
was accompanied by Ambassador, DATT, and Poloffs. MOD Goni
was accompanied by Under-Secretary for War Gonzalo Garcia,
Deputy Chief of the Joint Staff General Marcos Lopez, Air
Force Aide de Camp Col. Aldo Carboni, and MOD civilian
advisor Maria Inez Ruz.

A CLOSE AND GROWING RELATIONSHIP


3. (C) A/S Shannon characterized the U.S.-Chile bilateral
relationship as very good. Pol-mil talks in Washington in
March had been a valuable exercise; Under Secretary Burns had
been impressed with the level of Chilean representation and
Chile’s strategic vision (reftel A). The U.S. is looking for
ways to deepen and broaden the relationship at a time when
our countries are converging on a range of strategic and
security concerns. Goni agreed the overall relationship, not
only commercially but also politically and militarily, was
very good. The U.S. and Chile have a shared vision about
regional security concerns and need to reinforce institutions
in Haiti, although "for you (the U.S.) the security situation
is very complex." Bilateral military relations are being
reinforced and the interaction remains key for Chile’s
internal military restructuring. He noted this cooperation
had increased Chilean capacity for cooperation with other
regional militaries. SOUTHCOM Commander Stavridis’ May
visit, the Defense Consultative Commission meeting scheduled
in Washington for June, and other possible senior-level
visits illustrate the importance of the relationship.

NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS


4. (C) Goni said relations with Argentina were on track and
improving. Building on past confidence-building measures
like sharing comparative data on defense spending, Chile and
Argentina were well advanced in standing up a joint
peacekeeping battalion. The experience in Haiti and other
peacekeeping operations (PKOs) had helped this effort. Peru
is pushing hard to enter into a similar arrangement with
Chile, as is Ecuador. However, the Argentina experience had
demonstrated that such arrangements had to be constructed one
step at a time. Given the state of mil-mil cooperation with
Peru, and Chile’s limited resources, it would be some time
before Chile could consider other regional PKO alliances.
A/S Shannon noted that Chile’s capabilities and
professionalism were widely recognized, as shown by the
desire of others in the region to join forces with Chile. He
added that given Chile’s capabilities and successful PKO
record, he would not be surprised to see UNSYG Ban Ki-moon
knocking on Chile’s door soon to ask for more participation
in global PKO efforts. He urged Chile to consider such
requests positively.

5. (C) Goni said Chile was also improving relations with
Peru, trying to transplant the same models of military
transparency and professional exchanges that had worked with
Argentina. Other examples were ceremonies by both countries’
militaries to recognize the other side’s heroes of the 1897
War of the Pacific, and participation in each other’s
military and national celebrations. The two countries’
militaries are leading efforts to break down deep-seated
prejudices through symbolic exchanges.

6. (C) Although Chile is watching Venezuelan support to
Bolivia’s military closely, it is not yet a "cause for
concern." Goni said it would take some time to see the
results of the political restructuring in Bolivia, but that
Chile hoped to be able to improve the bilateral relationship.

REGIONAL PLAYERS


7. (C) Goni brushed over Chile’s relationship with Brazil,
saying he was sure A/S Shannon had gotten a read on regional
actors in his earlier meeting with FM Foxley (septel).
Noting he had recently left his posting as Ambassador to
Mexico, Goni said Mexico under Fox had greatly diminished its
presence as a regional actor. This was unfortunate, but
would likely be reversed under Calderon. Now that the
question of Mexico’s domestic direction had been resolved,
Calderon would be paying greater attention to regional
issues. Chile is willing to assist Mexico in its efforts at
regional reinsertion, and believes Mexico could play a
greater and productive role.

8. (C) Goni asked A/S Shannon for his views on the region.
A/S Shannon characterized the situation as "effervescent."
Venezuela’s decision to switch its focus south, withdrawing
from CAN and joining MERCOSUR, coupled with its vast
resources and more aggressive philosophy, are generating
friction and policy conflicts in the region. Political
developments in Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador present
challenges to democratic governance. U.S. policy is to
promote a positive agenda, offer space for regional dialogue
and cooperation, and look for opportunities to secure
important advances in economic and social developments. With
Chile, the U.S. is looking to developing links between Latin
America and Asia as an engine for growth and political
stability. Goni noted that there was a clear effort by
Chavez and "his cronies" to influence other countries.
Reiterating it was "not a cause for concern," Goni said that
Chile was watching closely Venezuela’s military relations
with Brazil, particularly military sales. Military to
military relations seem to be a major thrust in the evolution
of Venezuela foreign policy.

HAITI


9. (C) Goni said discussions about extending Chile’s
commitment in Haiti were going well. The GOC already had
requested Senate approval for an extension beyond May 2007
(reftel B). Some senators are taking hard-line positions,
critical of costs and the apparently open-ended commitment
there. However, a Senate delegation visit to Haiti in March
had a positive impact on the debate, as did the GOC
initiative to begin discussions two months before the
decision deadline (as opposed to last year, when the GOC
requested an extension the week before authorization
expired). Goni predicted the Senate would authorize a
one-year extension of Chile’s Haiti mission in May, noting
the Senate had recently extended the mandate of Chile’s
detachment in Bosnia. The GOC would introducing legislation
to Congress in the next two weeks to regulate future Chilean
PKO deployments (reftel C).

10. (C) The international community has a responsibility to
establish a credible and professional police force in Haiti,
Goni declared. The key challenge facing all institutions and
development efforts in Haiti is crime and public security.
Chile is currently training 15 Haitian National Police
officers at its police academy in a "tailor-made" course.

The officers are performing very well. These HNP officers
would be reincorporated as trainers on return to Haiti,
helping change the institutional culture.

11. (U) Assistant Secretary Shannon cleared this cable.
KELLY