(U) SECRETARY RICE’S SEPTEMBER 18, 2008 CONVERSATION WITH SALVADORAN FOREIGN MINISTER ARGUETA

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
08STATE101399 23 September 2008 Confidencial United States Secretary of State in Washington

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O 231437Z SEP 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L STATE 101399

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2018
TAGS: OVIP(RICE, CONDOLEEZZA), PREL, ENRG, ES
SUBJECT: (U) SECRETARY RICE’S SEPTEMBER 18, 2008
CONVERSATION WITH SALVADORAN FOREIGN MINISTER ARGUETA

Classified By: WHA Assistant Secretary Thomas A. Shannon,
Reasons 1.4.(b) and (d)

1. (U) September 18, 2008; 4:00 p.m.; Washington, DC.

2. (U) Participants:

U.S.
The Secretary
A/S Thomas A. Shannon, WHA
Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood, PA
Hillary Thompson (Notetaker)

EL SALVADOR
FM Marisol Argueta
Charg Carmen Tobar
Director General Werner Romero
Astrid Moreno (Notetaker)

3. (C) SUMMARY. Salvadoran FM Argueta met with Secretary
Rice on September 18 during her visit to Washington to
commemorate Salvadoran National Day. Arguing that the United
States must treat their friends in the region better than
they treat their enemies, FM Argueta requested assistance
from the United States in the lead-up to the 2009 Salvadoran
elections, where the governing National Republican Alliance
party (ARENA) candidate is trailing his Farabundo Marti
National Liberation Front (FMLN) opponent in the polls. She
specifically requested that the United States send clear
messages by extending Temporary Protected Status and through
greater allocation of Merida resources to El Salvador. END
SUMMARY.

4. (U) FM Argueta also met with OAS Secretary General Insulza
to request the OAS organize an election observation mission
for the 2009 Salvadoran presidential elections and with
Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno
to discuss how to best leverage remittances sent home by
Salvadorans living in the United States.


SALVADORAN ELECTIONS


5. (C) FM Argueta detailed the Government of El Salvador’s
(GOES) concerns about a possible FMLN victory in the 2009
Salvadoran presidential elections. The GOES is having
difficulty responding to the world-wide rise in cost of
living and the increase in oil prices. Through Petrocaribe,
other governments in the region are selling oil to consumers
at a lower price. ARENA suspects that Venezuela has diverted
approximate $30 million in profits to the FMLN and can
confirm that $2 million was openly given to participating
municipalities in El Salvador.

6. (C) The Secretary underscored that the United States does
not want a role in Salvadoran partisan politics, but supports
democratic elections and democratic institutions. She noted
that the Pathways to Prosperity meeting to be held next week
at the United Nations would be a visible show of USG support
for GOES policies and encouraged the GOES to expose those in
El Salvador that do not support democratic ideals. FM
Argueta noted the need for U.S. support as the 2009 elections
approach, detailing Salvadorans’ positive image of the United
States and American ideals. She suggested that the United
States could send clear messages by highlighting linkages
between the Government of El Salvador and U.S. values. FM
Argueta specifically mentioned an extension of Temporary
Protected Status and greater allocation of Merida resources
to El Salvador as helpful signals that the USG could send to
the Salvadoran people as signs of support for the GOES
policies.


IRAQ


7. (C) The Secretary thanked FM Argueta for El Salvador’s
contributions to the coalition in Iraq and expressed her
desire that El Salvador will decide to continue to contribute
forces into 2009. She noted that El Salvador should be proud
of their troops and described the progress that is taking
shape in Iraq. Foreign Minister Argueta agreed that El
Salvador is indeed proud of its armed forces and reiterated
that the GOES views their contribution to the coalition as an
opportunity to thank the United Nations, as well as the
United States, for their assistance during El Salvador’s time
of need. Argueta noted that the Iraq coalition meeting at
the UN in New York next week would be a good opportunity for
President Bush and President Saca to share notes on El
Salvador’s contribution to the Global War on Terror.


COMALAPA


8. (C) FM Argueta relayed that El Salvador is ready to sit
down with a U.S. team to discuss extension of the agreement
that allows for U.S. presence at the Cooperative Security
Location (CSL) in Comalapa. Noting the current political
environment in the lead-up to El Salvador’s 2009 elections,
Assistant Secretary Shannon underlined the USG’s concerns
about modifying the current agreement, which would require
Salvadoran legislative approval. Instead, he highlighted
that the best approach would be to extend the current
agreement for five years and begin conversations regarding a
possible expansion only after the presidential elections.
FM Argueta suggested that increased U.S. financial assistance
to the CSL would be another sign of USG support for the GOES
while also enabling more successful counternarcotics
operations from Comalapa.


REGIONAL DEVELOPMENTS


9. (C) FM Argueta stressed El Salvador’s concern over recent
events in Venezuela and Bolivia, as well as uncertainty in
Honduras. She encouraged the Secretary to deliver a clear
response. The Secretary remarked that El Salvador should
expect to see a strong response to Bolivia’s expulsion of the
U.S. Ambassador, but that the USG has decided that it is
better not to play by Chavez’s rules. She noted the
deteriorating domestic circumstances in both countries. FM
Argueta also raised her unease over a growing Iranian
presence in the region and the linkages between Venezuela,
Iran, Hezbollah, and the FARC in Colombia. The Secretary
agreed that Venezuela is a danger, but strongly urged the
Central Americans to push back against Iranian intervention
in the region. She encouraged the Foreign Minister to stress
to the Salvadoran people that Iran has its own problems at
home and cannot do anything for El Salvador.


EVENTS IN YEMEN


10. (C) Argueta conveyed the GOES’ condolences over the
attack in Yemen. The Secretary commented that our
investments in embassy security had paid off. She noted her
pleasure at Yemen’s quick response.

RICE