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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06SANTIAGO1616
2006-07-27 21:02:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Santiago
Cable title:  

MEDIA REPORT - PRESIDENT BACHELET REITERATES INDEPENDENCE

Tags:   KMDR  KPAO  OPRC  PGOV  PREL  CI 
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VZCZCXYZ0010
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSG #1616 2082102
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 272102Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9686
						UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001616 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR R/MR, I/PP, WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA, INR/IAA, PM, INL

STATE FOR INR/R/MR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO OPRC PGOV PREL CI
SUBJECT: MEDIA REPORT - PRESIDENT BACHELET REITERATES INDEPENDENCE
OF CHILEAN FOREIGN POLICY


UNCLAS SANTIAGO 001616

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR R/MR, I/PP, WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA, INR/IAA, PM, INL

STATE FOR INR/R/MR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR KPAO OPRC PGOV PREL CI
SUBJECT: MEDIA REPORT - PRESIDENT BACHELET REITERATES INDEPENDENCE
OF CHILEAN FOREIGN POLICY



1. Summary: Several July 27 news stories, including front-page
headlines, highlighted President Bachelet's comments about her
independent foreign policy, notably on ICC ratification and
Venezuela's UNSC candidacy in the wake of the Chilean Defense
Minister's meeting with Secretary Rumsfeld. To place this in
context, President Bachelet has faced increased criticism recently
from opposition leaders and some elements within the governing
coalition over Chile's perceived weak response to an Argentine
reduction of needed natural gas and her administration's uneven
coordination on Venezuela. The government appears interested in
downplaying these issues, but the media continually fuels the
discussion by seeking commentary of high-profile figures and
selecting headlines that at times do not reflect the facts. El
Mercurio's reporters have tended to be the most accurate about
Chile's position on the ICC and Venezuela's UNSC candidacy.
Following are headlines and block quotes. End Summary.


2. On July 26, conservative afternoon daily "La Segunda" (circ.
31.834) "Bachelet to the U.S.: 'Chile Does Not Accept Pressure.'"

"Chile has had in the past, present, and, I am sure, in the future
an autonomous and independent foreign policy. Chile has shown in
the past that it does not accept pressure from any side and of any
kind, and that will not be different during my government," said
President Bachelet setting the government's course after learning of
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's warning that for the U.S. it would be

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"incomprehensible" for Chile to vote for Venezuela in the UNSC.


3. Conservative, influential newspaper-of-record "El Mercurio"
(circ. 116,807): "Bachelet Affirms Independence in Chile's Foreign
Policy."

The President said yesterday that Chile, "does not accept pressure
from any side or of any kind." This reaction comes after Secretary
Rumsfeld expressed concern to his Chilean counterpart (over the UNSC
vote), and alludes to President Lagos' opposition to the U.S.
invasion of Iraq. In the middle of the controversy is Defense
Minister Blanlot, who said today there had been no pressure and that
she and Rumsfeld had had a working meeting "where they expressed
their views on certain issues and we responded with ours."
Ambassador Craig Kelly was quoted, "There is no pressure... We are
speaking to many countries about this matter and I will not comment
about the position of any particular one."


4. Conservative, independent "La Tercera" (circ. 102,000): "Bachelet
Toughens Tone and Rejects U.S. Pressure over UN Vote."

Amid the opposition's criticism of Bachelet's weak reaction to
Argentina's decision to cut gas supplies to Chile and in other
foreign policy fronts, La Moneda sources said Bachelet's statements
yesterday are intended to show strength in the management of foreign
policy, which she did not show in her handling of the crisis with
Argentina.... La Moneda and the Foreign Ministry were unhappy with
Blanlot's statements about Secretary Rumsfeld's
conversation...because she had publicly referred to a conversation
that was intended to be private.


5. Government-owned, editorially independent "La Nacion" (circ.
3,800): "UN Vote and Ratification of the ICC: President Bachelet
Restates Chile's Foreign Policy."

The concern expressed by the Pentagon over Santiago's possible
support of Venezuela in the UNSC motivated the President to
underscore that the government "does not accept pressure from any
side or of any kind." The White House Ambassador to Santiago, Craig
Kelly said, "We are speaking to many countries bout this and I will
not comment on any particular view."


6. The Defense Ministry issued a statement explaining that "Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld did not ask Chile to refrain from voting for

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Venezuela," adding that Minister Blanlot denied having released
these details about her meeting with the Secretary.

Political party leaders of the governing coalition supported
Bachelet's remarks that Chile must not respond to pressure.
However, they also added that the U.S. government concern must not
be exaggerated, since the United States is in a campaign to garner
votes for its candidate in the UNSC. "We must not become scandalized
because the United States is intensifying support for its candidate,
Guatemala," said PS President Camilo Escalona.

KELLY