US embassy cable - 04TEGUCIGALPA1057

HONDURAS REITERATES REASON FOR IRAQ WITHDRAWAL; EXPRESSES POSSIBLE INTEREST IN HAITI DEPLOYMENT

Identifier: 04TEGUCIGALPA1057
Wikileaks: View 04TEGUCIGALPA1057 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tegucigalpa
Created: 2004-05-07 22:18:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL MOPS MARR IZ HA HO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TEGUCIGALPA 001057 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR WHA, WHA/PPC, AND WHA/CEN 
STATE FOR PM, PM/RSAT, AND PM/PMAT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/06/2014 
TAGS: PREL, MOPS, MARR, IZ, HA, HO 
SUBJECT: HONDURAS REITERATES REASON FOR IRAQ WITHDRAWAL; 
EXPRESSES POSSIBLE INTEREST IN HAITI DEPLOYMENT 
 
REF: A. TEGUCIGALPA 910 
     B. STATE 87181 
     C. FM ROSA BAUTISTA-SECRETARY POWELL APRIL 16 LETTER 
     D. CJCS-CHOD APRIL 15 2004 LETTER 
     E. TEGUCIGALPA 893 
 
Classified By: Charge d' Affaires Roger D. Pierce; 
reasons 1.4 (a), (b), and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary:  On May 4, PolCouns, DATT, and PolMilOff met 
with Minister of Defense (MOD) Federico Breve and Chairman of 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) General Jose Isaias Barahona 
to discuss Iraq and SOUTHCOM's proposed Regional Training 
Initiative (RTI).  During the course of conversation, both 
Government of Honduras (GOH) officials stated an interest in 
Honduran participation in the UN peacekeeping mission to 
Haiti, but indicated a period of approximately six months 
would be necessary before any troops could be deployed.  MOD 
Breve and CJCS Barahona expressed some nervousness over how 
the GOH's announcement to withdraw from Iraq had been 
received in Washington and again affirmed that the CJCS-CHOD 
April 15 letter (ref D) was the main reason for Honduras' 
decision to leave Iraq.  The GOH also stands ready to move 
forward on RTI in principle, but it is awaiting a formal 
request from SOUTHCOM and further details on how to proceed. 
End Summary. 
 
2. (C) MOD Breve and CJCS Barahona stated the GOH chose to 
leave Iraq before completing their one-year obligation due to 
the substance of the CJCS-CHOD April 15 letter (ref D).  They 
stated the Honduran constitution prohibits the GOH from 
participating in offensive combat operations and that the 
Honduran National Congress had explicitly stated the GOH 
deployment was intended for the sole purpose of humanitarian 
assistance.  The GOH felt that any modification of the 
original mission was beyond the scope envisioned when the GOH 
agreed to deploy troops to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi 
Freedom. 
 
3. (C) MOD Breve stated that the GOH had agreed previously 
with the U.S. not to share the contents of the CJCS-CHOD 
letter publicly.  The GOH remains concerned, however, that 
the reason for the Honduran troops' withdrawal is not 
entirely understood in Washington and they are concerned that 
the GOH's decision could negatively affect the bilateral 
relationship. 
 
4. (C) MOD Breve stated he expected Honduran troops to be out 
of Iraq and into neighboring Kuwait by May 21.  The final 
details of how to return the troops from Kuwait are still 
being coordinated.  CJCS Barahona said he remains concerned 
about force protection issues as GOH forces withdraw from 
Iraq as they will be vulnerable once outside their protected 
compound. 
 
5. (C) During the course of conversation on Iraq and 
international peacekeeping missions in general, DATT queried 
MOD Breve and CJCS Barahona on the GOH's willingness to 
consider participating in UN authorized peacekeeping 
operations in Haiti. (Note:  Previously, MOD Breve had asked 
the U.S. informally not to formally request a Honduran 
deployment to Haiti due to the GOH's obligations in Iraq. End 
Note).  Both GOH officials stated an interest in a Honduran 
deployment, but indicated a period of approximately six 
months would be necessary before any GOH troops could again 
be sent abroad.  Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General 
for Foreign Policy Ambassador Mario Fortin told Acting 
PolCouns May 6 that the GOH might be interested in assisting 
in Haiti, but noted that the current political climate was 
not good.  Fortin said that absent a clearer United Nations 
Security Council resolution that covered peacekeeping instead 
of stabilization, the GOH would not be able to participate. 
He said the GOH understood that Brazil was pushing for such a 
resolution.  Fortin noted that the MFA had also talked to the 
French about possibly sending Honduran troops to Haiti. 
 
6. (U) On the evening of May 6, President Ricardo Maduro 
announced that his government was analyzing a UN request for 
Honduran participation in peacekeeping operations in Haiti. 
He added, however, that the Congress might not view the 
request favorably because the Honduran troops will just be 
returning from Iraq. 
 
7. (SBU) MOD Breve and CJCS Barahona stated the GOH was ready 
to move forward in principle on SOUTHCOM's RTI proposal but 
the GOH was still waiting for a formal request from the 
United States.  (Note: MILGP is preparing a formal RTI letter 
on SOUTHCOM's behalf requesting a GOH response.  This letter 
should be delivered to the GOH shortly. End Note)  Both 
officials also indicated they are very interested in 
receiving more details from SOUTHCOM on exactly how RTI will 
function. 
 
8. (C) Comment:  MOD Breve and CJCS Barahona remain concerned 
about the GOH's planned withdrawal from Iraq and how it will 
affect Honduras' relationship with the United States.  As a 
result, Post believes the GOH might now be willing to deploy 
peacekeeping troops to Haiti, if requested, as a means of 
demonstrating Honduras' continued interest in international 
peacekeeping operations.  However, such a request would have 
a higher chance of success after Honduran troops in Iraq have 
returned to Honduras and the UNSC passes another resolution 
on Haiti that addresses the GOH's concerns.  End Comment. 
 
9. (U) Minimize considered. 
PIERCE 

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