Cablegate: Embassy Buenos Aires

Published: Wed 17 Sep 2008 09:09 PM
DE RUEHBU #1305/01 2612122
P 172122Z SEP 08
note of the new areas of cooperation that would become available if the GOA followed through on its announced plans to pay off Paris Club debt, thereby overcoming Brooke Sanctions. She was noncommittal on the Fourth Fleet, but interested in the fact that Brazil, Chile and Ecuador, among others, had assigne liaison officers to its headquarters. She was also non-committal toward reconsidering participation in UNITAS Gold, though her deputy Secretary Forti asked about details of available USG support if Argentina chose to
participate. Garre voiced appreciation for U.S. assistance
in training and reform efforts at the Ministry and left open the possibility of working out differences over a previously agreed Information Assurance/Cyber Security program. Secretary Forti raised concerns about our recent experience of rejecting a Peruvian and a Colombian military officer for a U.S.-sponsored training within the Argentina National Defense School and requested greater advance notice of vetting requirement (MilGP Commander encouraged the MOD to }get participant nams to us early in the process). Garre's
decision to follow through on the meeting with Ambassador was
significant given current difficulties in the U.S.-Argentina
relationship flowing from the Miami trial of Franklin Duran (reftel), and she evinced no disposition to scale back collaboration. End Summary. 2. (SBU) Ambassador called on Defense Minister Nilda Garre September 15 to review current and planned U.S.-Argentina
military cooperation and to touch base following Garre's
September 4 meeting with Secretary Gates at the Western
Hemisphere Defense Ministerial in Banff, Canada. Garre was
accompanied by her two senior deputies, Secretary for
International Affairs Alfredo Forti and Secretary for Military Affairs German Montenegro. Ambassador was accompanied by Mil Group Commander, Naval Attache, and by Pol-Mil Officer (notetaker). Garre was pleasant and professional throughout, if occasionally non-responsive on some issues raised by the Ambassador. She raised no agenda items on her own in the meeting. Brooke Sanctions, UNITAS, Fourth Fleet -------------------------------------- 3. (C) Ambassador began by congratulating Garre on her government's decision to pay its Paris Club arrears, noting that payment of the U.S. portion of that debt would facilitate the removal of Brooke Sanctions and potentially
make avaQable to Argentina Foreign Military Financing (FMF), Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI) material support, and access to Excess Defense Articles (EDA). Garre agreed these could be useful tools, while Forti clarified the nature of FMF and EDA programs. Ambassador then noted that we remained hopeful that Argentina would reconsider participation in UNITAS Gold exercises, explaining that the U.S. Government had USD 900,000 available to support Argentine participation. Forti asked for confirmation that
this could be used for such things as fuel, which we provided. Garre was noncommittal on the point. 4. (SBU) Garre was also neutral when the Ambassador raised the establishment of the Fourth Fleet, which she has publicly questioned. Garre took on board the Ambassador's suggestion that Argentina consider a visit to the fleet headquarters in Mayport, Florida, or the establishment of a permanent liaison officer. Garre asked for confirmation that Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador had established liaison officers and seemed
surprised that they had. Cruz del Sur ------------ 5. (SBU) Ambassador reiterated to Garre that the U.S. Government stood ready to support the introduction of the Argentine-Chilean peacekeeping brigade within the UN system when the two countries were ready to move forward. The Minister said that they hoped to establish the brigade, designated Cruz del Sur (Southern Cross), by the end of the year, but that this depended in part on the Argentine Congress giving its authorization. She said she would be discussing the brigade during a visit to Chile September 18 for its national day (at which, she said, she had planned to see the Bolivian Defense Minister as well, though she doubted that would be possible). Garre said she was pleased to host the PKO Americas exercise in 2009. Asked whether Cruz del
Sur could formally participate, Garre said that would not be possible until it was officially established, but that Chilean and Argentine militaries would participate separately. Training and Reform
------------------- 6. (SBU) Garre noted the challenges she was facing in
reforming Argentina's defense procurement procedures and was
pleased that the U.S. would be sending experts to an end of
October conference on defense logistics. She said that Argentina sought to learn from the U.S. experiences and that progress had been made. The Ambassador agreed it was a difficult challenge in any country, noting U.S. controversies around the contract for an aerial refueling tanker. Separately, Garre said that her Ministry was nearly done with the establishment of a comprehensive travel plan and training request system to facilitate faster turnaround on training
opportunities. MilGrp Commander noted the importance of avoiding cancellations within 30 days of planned trainings, which made it impossible to nominate alternatives or preserve the funding. Garre and her Secretaries acknowledged the importance of making their new procedures work. Montenegro asked that the USG consider bringing back an expert in capabilities based strategic planning to assist a small high-level group in the Ministry. Information Assurance/Cyber Security ------------------------------------ 7. (C) Ambassador raised our disappointment that the planned project on information assurance/cyber security, the subject of an agreed-upon bilateral MOU and an approved initial USD 100,000 in funding, had been brought to a point where the funding would be lost due to continuing disagreements over procedures and participation. Garre had asked her Secretaries to be prepared on this point, and they argued that the MOD had only modified its approach upon recognizing that other parts of the government had equities in the effort, in particular the Public Operations Secretariat (SGP). The GOA recognized that the funding was about to be lost. MILGP Commander pointed out that we had no problem including other parts of the GOA, but that our understanding
from the GOA's response was that the SGP along with the MOD would each receive a place on the steering committee, compared to one seat for the USG. Forti and Montenegro said that this was not their understanding of what was being asked. Garre noted that the Sub-Secretary for Legal Affairs was in Germany, further complicating prospects to conclude the deal, but agreed it would be worthwhile to follow up to see if the differences could be overcome. Helos -----
8. (SBU) Garre voiced appreciation for the delivery of two H3 Sea King helicopters at Bahia Blanca, saying that she had just seen them but had been prevented from flying because at the time a minor part or issue had yet to be resolved. Ambassador invited Garre to consider joining him for a ribbon-cutting once they were operational. Ambassador later congratulated Garre on the Army's Aviation branch's success in qualifying with Bell Helicopter/Textron to perform Huey II Kit upgrades for Argentine as well as Uruguayan and
Paraguayan operators. Vetting Challenge ----------------- 9. (SBU) Secretary Forti raised the one issue initiated by the Argentine side during the meeting, requesting our help to avoid a repeat of the vetting issue that has arisen for two non-Argentines (one from Peru, one from Colombia) participating in a U.S.-funded Defense Logistics program as part of their year-long course of study at the Argentine
National Defense School. Both had been identified for associations with human rights violations by Department vetting, long after they had joined the Argentine program in which the U.S. training was one element. Forti, seconded by Garre, asked what could be done to avoid such an embarrassing situation for Argentina, which had had to prevent the visitors' participation. MilGrp Commander noted that he had discussed with a MOD official in mid-August the emergence of
the first rejection and had coordinated on solutions (Garre complained to her deputies that she had not been informed until the eve of her September 4 meeting with Secretary Gates). We agreed that the early sharing of information on proposed participants was key. Garre said that in fact Argentina too wished to avoid hosting human rights violators, but that early notification of our findings was key (Note: Her comment was significant, because it represented the first time an Argentine interlocutor has implicitly supported the
basis of our refusal). Comment: Positive, Restrained ---------- 10. (C) Coming as it did amidst virulent anti-U.S. bashing by some members of Government and non-government supporters of the Kirchners outside government (reftel), the meeting was notably free from ideological posturing by Garre or her lieutenants as has been the case in Ambassador's previous meetings with her. That she agreed to follow through with the meeting was itself a positive - though Secretary Forti intervened before the meeting to cancel the Embassy
photographer. (During our previous period of Miami case-related bilateral tension, the Ambassador was embargoed from official meetings with Cabinet ministers except for the Foreign Minister.) She gave a slightly positive signal, even if lQly too late, on the information assurance project, and was restrained in her remarks this time on the Fourth Fleet. In all, it was a constructive meeting in which she gave her clear approval for continued collaboration on several fronts.
End Comment. WAYNE
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