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09TEGUCIGALPA99 2009-02-13 21:59:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tegucigalpa
Cable title:  

COURTESY VISIT WITH NEW FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER

Tags:   PGOV PREL KSUM KDEM AORC ICJ KV 
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1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador paid a courtesy call on newly
appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Patricia Rodas,
February 11. Discussion centered on upcoming Summit of
Americas and the OAS General Assembly as well as President
Manuel "Mel" Zelaya's upcoming trip to the Washington and
Denver. Rodas commented on Chilean President Michelle
Bachelet's recent visit to Honduras and the recent elections
of a new Honduran Supreme Court and Attorney General. The
Ambassador asked Rodas to consider having Honduras recognize
Kosovo; she agreed to consider the issue. The meeting was
conducted in a friendly atmosphere; while Rodas' ideology
appeared now and then, it was clear she sought to maintain
good relations with us. End Summary.

Summit of the Americas and OAS Ministerial


--------------------------



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2. (C) The Ambassador, accompanied by DCM and CONOFF
(notetaker), paid a courtesy visit to newly-appointed
Minister of Foreign Affairs Patty Rodas February 11. The
meeting began with a discussion of events on the Summit of
Americas and OAS ministerial, the latter of which will be
held in San Pedro Sula in May. The Ambassador highlighted
the importance for Honduras of hosting the OAS Ministerial.
Rodas said the OAS event would provide Honduras an
opportunity to raise its profile in Latin America. She also
mentioned her interest in possibly holding bilateral meetings
with the Secretary if she attended the OAS event in San Pdero
Sula.

President Zelaya's Visit to Washington


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3. (C) The Ambassador said that President Manuel "Mel"
Zelaya's schedule for his visit to Washington the week of
February 16 assured that the trip would be productive,
emphasizing the importance of his meetings with the
Secretaries of Energy, Agriculture, and Homeland Security.
The follow-on visit to the National Renewable Energy
Laboratory in Colorado provides an excellent opportunity for
Zelaya to get ahead on an issue of interest to the new US
administration. Rodas agreed these meetings and the Colorado
visit would be beneficial considering both President Zelaya
and President Obama's interest in renewable energy,
sustainable development, and immigration issues. Rodas took
the opportunity to express frustration with the lack of
response to President Zelaya,s letter sent last December to
then President-elect Obama and requested the Ambassador,s
assistance in this matter. The Ambassador agreed to pass the
message on to the Department.

Supreme Court/Attorney General


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4. (C) Rodas noted January election of a new Supreme Court
had been difficult for the Zelaya administration and that
only through "luck" had a constitutional crisis been averted.
She claimed Zelaya had stayed out of the process to elect a
new Attorney General as he wanted to avoid a similar fight.

U.S. Assistance/Merida


--------------------------





5. (C) Rodas noted that, given the global financial crisis,
the GOH would welcome cooperation from any source, especially
foreign investors regardless of origin. Ambassador Llorens
agreed that cooperation with the GOH was always important for
the USG and highlighted the numerous initiatives and programs
of existing collaboration between the two countries
including: Pathways to Prosperity, $50 million/annually in
USAID assistance, the Millennium Challenge Corporation
Account, the Merida Initiative, and our Peace Corps Volunteer
program ) the largest in Latin America. The Ambassador
noted that Honduras had been the first Central American

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country to sign a MOU on the Merida program and brought Rodas
up to date on the establishment of a US-Honduran multi-agency
task force to oversee the program. The Ambassador also
briefed Rodas on the recent visit of Department officials to
discuss Honduras' role in Pathways, emphasizing that it
provided Honduras an opportunity to play an active role in
strengthening the economic relation of the member's
countries. Rodas noted that the USG,s assistance is
essential to Honduras, particularly in technical capacities,
and accepted the Ambassador,s offer to provide her a full
briefing on our MCC, USAID, Peace Corps and Merida programs.


Bachelet Visit


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6. (C) The visit of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet on
February 9 (septel) went well, according to Rodas; the main
result being promises in increased security assistance.

Kosovo


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7. (C) The Ambassador raised the issue of recognition of
Kosovo, using talking points provided in reftel. Rodas
listened intently and promised to consider the issue after
consulting with her advisors.

Comment


--------------------------





8. (C) The visit was extremely amicable and Rodas emphasized
the importance of US-Honduran relations, US economic
assistance, trade and investment relations, and the influence
of the US economy on the region. Rodas expressed her
interest in pursuing a &policy of cooperation8 with the USG
throughout the meeting. Nevertheless, her ideological
leanings came though several times, particularly on her
comments on the need to provide greater technical assistance
at the grassroots level and criticism of Honduran business
for being predatory and unimaginative. Her comments on the
need for greater assistance at the grassroots level was
reflective of her lack of knowledge on our assistance
programs in Honduras and we will use her agreement to
participate in an Embassy briefing to educate her on our
efforts. Throughout the meeting, Rodas expressed her support
for President Obama and seemed optimistic about forging a
closer relationship with the United States under his
administration. We believe that she continues to operate
under the instructions of President Zelaya to not let her
ideology get in the way of maintaining good relations with
the US. We believe that getting a formal response to
President Zelaya,s letter to President Obama would be a
positive action and contribute to enhancing good will in the
relationship.
LLORENS