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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06ASUNCION119 2006-02-03 07:26:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Asuncion
Cable title:  

(C) PARAGUAY: FM PUBLICLY REJECTS NEGOTIATIONS

Tags:   PREL MARR KICC PINR PA 
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1. (U) On January 31, local press reported that FM Rachid
publicly reiterated the GOP's opposition to an Article 98
agreement. In the context of explaining the limited immunity
granted to U.S. military personnel entering Paraguayan
territory to participate in training and medical exercises,
Rachid stated that:

-- Paraguay has not signed an Article 98 agreement;
-- The last time the U.S. formally requested ICC immunity for
USG personnel was in 2002;
-- The GOP never (sic) responded to the request; and
-- In October 2003, two months after President Duarte took
office, the GOP responded that it would not grant USG
personnel permanent ICC immunity.



2. (C) MFA legal advisor Ernesto Velazquez told PolOff on
January 31 that he still had not had an opportunity to
discuss with Rachid the latest drafts of a proposed exchange
of notes that would give us Article 98 protections but allow
the GOP to say that it had not/not signed an Article 98
agreement (reftels). He therefore could not authoritatively
speak to whether Rachid's latest remarks were intended to
signal that the GOP did not wish to continue negotiations
about the proposed exchange of notes. However, his "personal
opinion" was that the negotiations had reached deadlock, and
further discussion of the matter would not be fruitful.
Recent press coverage in Paraguay and neighboring countries
(criticizing military exercises in Paraguay, and accusing us
of everything from planning to establish a permanent base
here to scheming to steal fresh water from the Guarani
Aquifer) and the general atmosphere within Mercosur had made
it "impossible" to reach an agreement on Article 98, in his
view.



3. (C) Comment: Paraguay has been hemming and hawing over its
response to A/S Rademaker's letter for over four months.
Claims that Rachid and her lawyer have not been able to find
the time to discuss this ring hallow. The FM's public
statement January 30 signals again that the GOP opposes an
Article 98 agreement. The Ambassador presented his
credentials to the President February 1 and will raise this
issue in his next meeting with Rachid, urging her to find a
solution.
CASON