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Viewing cable 07PARAMARIBO510, C) SUBJECT: BRIEFING INFORMATION FOR OCTOBER 6

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07PARAMARIBO510 2007-09-21 19:07 2011-01-31 15:03 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paramaribo
VZCZCXRO4705
RR RUEHAO
DE RUEHPO #0510/01 2641926
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 211926Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9697
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 1494
RUEHAO/AMCONSUL CURACAO 1172
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARAMARIBO 000510 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

FOR DEFENSE SECRETARY ROBERT GATES FROM AMBASSADOR LISA 
BOBBIE SCHREIBER HUGHES 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2017 
TAGS: PREL PGOV NS
SUBJECT: (C) SUBJECT: BRIEFING INFORMATION FOR OCTOBER 6 
COURTESY CALL BETWEEN DEFENSE SECRETARY GATES AND 
SURINAMESE PRESIDENT VENETIAAN 

REF: A. REFTELS: (A) PARAMARIBO 501 

B. (B) PARAMARIBO 509 

Classified By: Ambassador LBSH for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 

------- 
Preview 
------- 
1. (C) President Venetiaan has agreed to a short (15 minute) 
courtesy call late in the afternoon of Saturday, October 6, 
immediately following your visit to the USNS Comfort. Venue 
for the meeting will be either the Presidential Palace or the 
President's Cabinet Office, both in Paramaribo. At that same 
venue, and immediately following your courtesy call, we 
propose (and are attempting to confirm with the Office of the 
President) that Venetiaan participate with you in a brief (15 
minute) ceremony to officially close the Comfort mission. 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
President of the Republic of Suriname, H.E. President Runaldo 
Ronald Venetiaan (phonetic: FENEchiyan): a Biography 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 

2. (C) Three-term President Venetiaan (1991-1996; 
2000-present) has a relatively long history in Surinamese 
politics. Originally a mathematics professor, he became 
chairman of the National Party of Suriname (NPS) in 1993, and 
was elected a member of the National Assembly in 1996. He is 
married and the father of four grown children. Relations 
between the 71-year-old Venetiaan and Post are cordial, but 
not warm. Nor is the distant Venetiaan an especially popular 
leader with the Surinamese population. 

3. (SBU) Venetiaan is, however, a canny politician whose 
strategy of non-confrontation has enabled him to hold 
together a multi-party governing coalition that is riven with 
infighting yet clings to a 4-seat majority in the 51-seat 
parliament. In Suriname's Dutch-model consociational 
politics, parties laboriously reach consensus with the goal 
of dividing up available resources, ministries, 
ambassadorships, and other spoils of power, and delivering 
them to their (often ethnically-based) constituencies. 




--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Background Information and Issues: Gates/Venetiaan Courtesy 
Call 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 

(SBU) 

4. Issue 1: Despite biases to the contrary, Suriname should 
consider the United States a strong partner. 

Background Information: President Venetiaan's north-south 
bias with respect to the United States is evident in his 
public statements. In August 2007, media reported 
Venetiaan's comments that in the post-Cold War period the 
United Nations has had a difficult time realizing its goals 
because the United States has a monopoly on power and 
determines the fate of the rest of the world. In June 
2007, Venetiaan was the only CARICOM Head of State or 
Government to decline an invitation to meet President Bush 
during the Conference on the Caribbean in Washington. The 
reason: Conference timing conflicted with his birthday. 

The President is enthusiastic about regional integration and 
Suriname has shown a tendency to downplay relations with the 
United States and Europe in favor of ties with CARICOM, Cuba, 
and Venezuela (and also outside of the region with China, 
India, and Indonesia). He met with Hugo Chavez on his return 
trip from the 2006 UN General Assembly and called him our 
brother when I presented my credentials to him in September 
2006. Despite Venetiaan's biases, he should recognize that 
the United States is committed to Suriname, and to the 
region. The USNS Comfort, ongoing IMET and past FMF support, 
MEDRETES, and New Horizons provide tangible evidence of our 
value as a partner. 

5. (U) Issue 2: The United States has demonstrated its 
commitment to work with Suriname as it further 
professionalizes its armed forces, and strengthens 
civil-military relations, democracy, and the rule of law. 


PARAMARIBO 00000510 002 OF 002 


Background Information: Through the United States Southern 
Command (SouthCom), Suriname's Ministry of Defense (MOD) and 
its armed forces have developed a strong, multifaceted 
partnership that, through example, has helped Suriname on the 
road to stronger civil-military relations and a more 
professional military. This in turn is critical to the 
furtherance of democracy and the rule of law in Suriname 
where, since military rule ended in 1992, there has been a 
strained relationship between the civilian government and the 
armed forces. Venetiaan likely harbors some residual 
antipathy towards the military due to his imprisonment and 
alleged mistreatment under the regime of former military 
strongman (and current member of parliament) Desi Bouterse. 

-------------- 
Talking Points 
-------------- 

-- Appreciate your flexibility in agreeing to meet on a 
Saturday afternoon. 

-- Pleased to have this opportunity to visit your country 
while the USNS Comfort is here to provide medical services to 
the people of Suriname. 

-- Thank you for the support that your government, and in 
particular your Ministries of Defense and Health, have given 
to the Comfort mission. 

-- Understand that Surinamers and Americans have worked 
closely throughout this entire process so that the Comfort's 
visit would be a true benefit for the people of Suriname. 

-- Hope that you see the Comfort as the latest in a long 
list of United States programs which demonstrate support and 
friendship from the people and government of the United 
States to the people and government of Suriname. 

-- Certainly that was the intent of President Bush when he 
sent the Comfort and its doctors and nurses to this region. 

-- As you are doubtless aware, our United States Southern 
Command has a strong, multifaceted relationship with your 
Ministry of Defense and armed forces which includes 
humanitarian as well as military aid. 

-- We are strongly committed to working with our partners in 
the region to further professionalize their armed forces 
while also strengthening civil-military relations. 

-- Speaking of regional issues, I would be interested in your 
views, as President, on the recent decision by the ILOS 
regarding the maritime border. 

-- Thank you again for taking the time to receive me. 
SCHREIBER HUGHES