A/S SHANNON’S MEETING WITH ARGENTINE FOREIGN MINISTER

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06BUENOSAIRES128 18 January 2006 Confidencial Embassy Buenos Aires

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SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SOUTHCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/18/2016
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, AR
SUBJECT: A/S SHANNON’S MEETING WITH ARGENTINE FOREIGN
MINISTER

Classified By: Ambassador Lino Gutierrez for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: Assistant Secretary Tom Shannon,
accompanied by the Ambassador, met with Argentine Foreign
Minister Jorge Taiana on January 12. During the
conversation, which focused on Bolivia, A/S Shannon defined
key U.S. concerns about the incoming Evo Morales
administration and underscored the importance of active
Argentine involvement in promoting democratic governance and
institutions in Bolivia. FM Taiana acknowleged the margin of
Morales’s victory had surprised the GOA and said it was still
not clear what direction the new Bolivian government would
eventually take. Prior to the Taiana meeting, A/S Shannon
also met separately with Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto
Garcia Moritan. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) A/S Shannon, accompanied by Ambassador, PolCouns, and
PolOff, met with Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana on January 12.
Taiana was accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto
Garcia Moritan, Under Secretary for Latin American Policy
Leonardo Franco, Director of North American Affairs Vicente
Espeche Gil, and Argentine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose
Octavio Bordon.

3. (C) A/S Shannon told Taiana that the U.S. had "no
illusions" about future relations with the Morales
administration but would approach the new government "in good
faith." A/S Shannon noted that Morales’s rhetoric had
softened somewhat recently but was still very personal and,
at times, aggressive, complicating our efforts to begin a
dialogue. A second key area to our future relations would be
the Morales response to our counternarcotics programs. A/S
Shannon asked how we approach the new government on this
issue without provoking immediate problems and confrontation.
He noted that while he understood that cocoa growers were
the original base of support for Morales, eradication
remained a key part of U.S. anti-drug strategy in Bolivia
along with interdiction and development programs. The
Assistant Secretary said Argentine and Brazilian involvement
would be key in maintaining democratic institutions in
Bolivia.

4. (C) FM Taiana acknowledged the difficulties that lay
ahead for Bolivia. He said the margin of victory Morales
obtained in the December elections had come as a surprise to
the GOA. However, despite Morales’s majority, there was
still no answer as to "what is Bolivia" and that the Bolivian
social compact was essentially "broken." Taiana said the
indigenous angle to the elections was "unprecedented" not
only for Bolivia but for South America. He opined that
Morales viewed himself as "the Nelson Mandela" of indigenous
Bolivians but that it was still not clear how much influence
the indigenous movement would have in the new government.

5. (C) In an earlier meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister
Roberto Garcia Moritan, A/S Shannon said that Argentina and
Brazil have important interests in Bolivia. He said the U.S.
faced a diplomatic challenge with the Morales government, but
that the first step would be to start a dialogue and see what
is possible. He said that we faced two obstacles to that
dialogue. The first was Morales’s rhetoric, which was
personal and reflected the confrontational tactics of Chavez.
The second barrier was Morales’s position on our
counternarcotics program. Since so much bilateral assistance
is tied to the GOB,s counter-drug performance, our overall
relationship will suffer across the board if the
counternarcotics program falls apart. Shannon said we want
to coordinate our actions with the GOA, and also use
multilateral instruments like the Inter-American Commission
on Drug Control (CICAD).

6. (C) Garcia Moritan said the success of Bolivian democracy
was very important and the GOA intended to help the Bolivians
achieve success. He said if Morales asks the GOA for help
"we will see what we can offer." Under Secretary for Latin

American Policy Leonardo Franco said the GOA was working on a
variety of bilateral projects in the areas of trade,
education, and technical assistance for a possible
constitutional reform. The GOA was also looking at Bolivia’s
entry into MERCOSUR as a full member. Franco praised the
United States for its "mature reaction" to Morales’s
electoral victory.

7. (C) On the question of drugs, Garcia Moritan said the GOA
would work closely with Bolivia and liked the idea of using
regional mechanisms like CICAD. He said it was important to
watch Morales,s actions rather than his words and cautioned
against painting Morales as a narcotrafficker.
GUTIERREZ