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Rice Remarks with President Ricardo Lagos of Chile

Remarks to the Press with President Ricardo Lagos of Chile

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
La Moneda
Santiago, Chile
April 28, 2005

(5:15 p.m. Local)

PRESIDENT LAGOS: (in Spanish) I would like to start by saying that it is a matter of deep satisfaction to meet once again Condoleezza Rice. I'm not sure but -- I don't know if she recalls, the first time was when she was a dean in Stanford and we met in Davos so as to discuss the third way. But then we have met when we have been with President Bush and today we are welcoming her today at La Moneda as Secretary of State of the second government of President Bush.

Chile and the United States have worked seeking a modern and mature relationship, one of two countries that make a friendship and candidness -- components for a sound dialogue. But that soundness of dialogue is because we share common principles, common values: Democracy, respect for human rights, expansion of freedoms, and also understand that part of the wealth of countries is the diversity of countries like the American society. It is rich because it is diverse.

So in this framework, we are -- in this meeting, we've reviewed our bilateral agenda. I explained to her that for us, the agreement with the United States, the FTA, has been most successful. Trade has increased more than 31 percent. Our exports have increased in 30 percent. The imports coming from the States in 31 percent. But perhaps what's most salient, most important, our exports increased because the manufacturing exports increased. And that means more jobs, more employment, more quality employment that entails value added. And so, we are proud of what we have achieved.

But then also, the United States and Chile agreed that economic growth, as you have said, Condoleezza, has to go hand in hand with social development. The major challenges of the continent are to defeat poverty, and how we can institute public policies favoring those who have less. And it is here that democracy plays a fundamental role.

We have spoken about the reality of this continent and to what extent strengthening democracy is giving presence and legitimacy to the institutions. Democracy is not only choosing or electing in freedom; it's also making citizens to feel -- feel that their hopes, their political leadership are interpreting them and are fulfilling their hopes. It is along those lines that we have discussed other topics. We have discussed about Haiti, and I have explained to her why we have -- Latin Americans have to fulfill certain roles in Haiti. We understand it as one of our roles, one of our endeavors, and we are pleased that, for the first time, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Ecuador, different armies of the continent, are fulfilling their work in Haiti on behalf of the U.N.

And also speaking of the hemisphere, we refer to the FTAA, Free Trade [Area]of the Americas, how important it is to promote it, to move it forward. And we exchanged views about some ideas that we can raise at the next hemispheric meeting that we will hold in Buenos Aires in November.

I think that all this has been most important, to be able to make out of FTAA a grouping, an instrument of trade. Also where there are elements that will help the smallest country to transit into the situation in which tax issues and the reduction of tariffs and the reduced -- reduction of taxes. Anyhow, when this agenda with the Secretary of State, we have discussed the richness and identity of our relationships and also have expressed to her that on the occasion of this COD she has taken time to visit other countries of the region. And we are so pleased to know that she wants to and she's planning other visits in the region. Welcome.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. The President and I have just had a really excellent discussion that is befitting the good friends Chile and the United States are, of course, united by democratic values and concern for democracy in our hemisphere. The President's commitment to and Chile's commitment to democracy is demonstrated by the fact that we are hosting this Community of Democracies ministerial, and I want to thank you very much for the effort that Chile has made in hosting this. I am very much looking forward to the meeting of the Community of Democracies.

We had a chance to talk about the Haitian situation and I was able to express the American appreciation for Chile's role there, for Chile's peacekeeping troops, for the work of Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdez, and the fact that we all hope that our joint efforts will lead to a more stable environment in Haiti, so that the people of Haiti can pursue a better future and particularly can begin that future with elections sometime this fall.

We discussed our common economic agenda. The hemisphere has no better example of a government that is creating opportunity for a free people, and a government that is governing wisely and justly. Our mutual respect for free trade and intellectual property rights and transparency led us to this free trade agreement. And we talked about how successful it has been for both countries in making possible further economic growth and development.

Mr. President, Chile has done well because it adheres to fundamental principles of democracy and economic opportunity and free trade and helping others. This is a firm basis for Chile's tremendous leadership in this region, and for our partnership around the world. I want to thank you for the friendship of our people, for the friendship of your government, and I look forward to many more years of our common agenda toward peace, democracy and freedom. Thank you.

MODERATOR: We'll begin with George Gedda of the Associated Press. Start with Pablo? Pablo.

QUESTION: Yes. Mr. President, there have been five rounds of voting at the OAS and they've all been ties. The question I have is, is Insulza's candidacy at this point -- why is Chile insisting on Insulza's candidacy at this point if you feel you have the votes to win the election on Monday? Shouldn't Insulza maybe pull out, together with the Mexican candidate for a consensus candidate to come forward?

PRESIDENT LAGOS: (in Spanish) I thank you for that question, a question about a topic that we discussed somewhat. But what I would like to say is that basically now if you -- we should make efforts to turn the Organization of American States into a hemispheric organization where we can really discuss the important issues for the hemisphere. Let us put it in this way: when there are issues like the Doha trade round, or where you have issues for the Security Council of the U.N., where you find issues in the -- important for the international financial system, where there are issues about international public goods like, for example, the environment, is it possible that in the hemisphere to have a real true debate on those issues so as to define our coincidences or maybe to really mark our differences? That would be very important.

And what we find here is not an ideological confrontation vis-à-vis the OAS, because Foreign Minister Derbez and Minister Insulza are excellent leaders of Latin America and there cannot be a North/South confrontation nor an ideological confrontation. That is not underlying the candidacies. And we think it is important to look for other consensus mechanisms and we will continue to work along those lines.

QUESTION: For Condoleezza Rice, six months ago President Bush was in this palace during the APEC and commended Chile, considered it as a strategic priority ally. My question is, what changed during these months that the White House has made many efforts for Minister Insulza not to reach the OAS, first supporting Flores and then Derbez? Can you assure that the U.S. will not do a last minute maneuver like the other time where Flores came down? And this time, is the U.S. in favor of Derbez or a consensus candidate?

SECRETARY RICE: First of all, let me just echo what the President has said, we are blessed with the fact that there are several excellent people who would like to be Secretary General of the OAS and have been willing to put themselves forward for that.

We have said that we think that Minister Derbez is a very fine person who has done well for Mexico and is a very fine international diplomat. It is also the case with [Interior] Minister Insulza, that is a man of great skill and is well respected.

And so our task has to be to talk and to discuss how we might move forward on a basis that once again brings us to unity so that we can move forward with a very important organization. Because the key here is really not about personalities or about ideology; this is about the Organization of American States, which has been an important institution in the past, for instance in the way that it has dealt with several crises in the region over time, and which can do even much more on a regional basis for a hemisphere that has a lot of challenges but a lot of opportunities.

We have, through the OAS, for instance, a democratic charter that talks about the need to govern democratically. This is an important issue in this region because this region is in many ways leading the way for much of the world that is trying so hard to live up to the desire of their peoples for democracy.

We've just been talking about the situation in Haiti. We've experienced difficulties in places like Ecuador and Bolivia. We have a lot of challenges in this region, but this is a region that has already demonstrated its commitment to democracy, it has a democracy charter. The OAS can be a very important instrument in that regard. And so I am sure that we will come through this with a very fine Secretary General.

I just want to say a word about what President Bush said six months ago. Chile is one of our most important and valued partners because we share common values, we've done a lot of work together. We have what really many people consider a model free trade agreement that is serving both countries well. Haiti is a place that we share responsibility and are working together.

So, this is a very strong relationship that is only going to get stronger, and I think it will get stronger as we cooperate in the context of the OAS, as well.

MODERATOR: Do we have anyone on the U.S. side?

QUESTION: This question is for Secretary Rice, but I would also like the President's views on this as well, because it could be a potential global security question. This morning, Admiral Lowell Jacoby, who is the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the intelligence community does now believe that North Korea does have the capability to fire a two-stage missile carrying a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could reach not just Alaska or Hawaii but perhaps part of the western United States and, theoretically, with a three-stage missile, possibly reach South America, as well.

Even though Admiral Jacoby does say that, because there is no confirmation of any missile testing, this is still a very real possibility. And my question for both of you is this: How worried are your governments about this possibility? Does this raise the prospect that perhaps we might soon see a Security Council meeting discussing what to do about the North Korean situation, since it is still refusing to come back to the six-party talks? Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, first of all, the Security Council remains an option for the international community concerning the North Korean nuclear program. The reason that we have been committed to six-party talks is that we believe that this is a problem that is probably best dealt with by North Korea's neighbors. But it is not that we have not had the support of the rest of the international community in demanding that the North Koreans give up their nuclear weapons programs. I think that there is a fairly universal view that the North Koreans should not try and maintain a nuclear weapons program and that the only way for them to get the kinds of benefits that they seem to want will be to give up that weapons program.

Now, yes, the North Koreans are doing all kinds of things. We have different assessments of what they may or may not be doing. But let me make a couple of things very clear. The North Koreans, if they engage in certain kinds of behavior, are only going to deepen their own isolation. And I would hope that there's an understanding of that in North Korea. The way to come out of that isolation is to get back to the six-party talks and to negotiate -- to make a strategic decision to get rid of their nuclear weapons programs.

We maintain a strong deterrent on the Korean Peninsula, both through our alliance with South Korea and through American military power in the region. And I am quite certain that the North Koreans are not confused about the military situation on the Korean Peninsula.

So yes, of course, we have all been troubled by developments in North Korea. That's why we have the six-party talks. But that's the way for the North Koreans to end their isolation.

PRESIDENT LAGOS: (in Spanish) A brief comment. We have followed very closely the (inaudible). We believe that the solution to approach the issue of North Korea is the six parties of the conference, and we feel fully interpreted by what can be agreed there. And we can only urge North Korea to continue within the six-party talks.

QUESTION: (in Spanish) I would like to ask two questions to Ms. Rice. First, considering the clear position of the United States vis-à-vis Cuba and vis-à-vis Venezuela, how do you see the visit of Hugo Chavez to his friend, Fidel Castro, and the idea of setting up an alternative to FTAA? And I would like to ask you the second question, what will you do so as to do away with the feeling in Latin America in that they feel that the U.S. considers Latin America as the back yard?

And also, President Lagos, what is your perception about the Venezuelan situation, as you have just visited Venezuela? Those three questions.

SECRETARY RICE: On the first issue, we've been very clear about our concerns about the policies of the Venezuelan government in terms of its internal policies and in terms of its neighbors. But I want to be very clear. We have a positive agenda for this region that is based on, I think, a common view with the states of the Organization of American States, with states like Chile and Brazil and El Salvador and Colombia, from which I've just come. And that is that the future of this hemisphere is a democratic future. It is a future in which those who are elected to govern democratically, they govern transparently, they govern with accountability, they govern to root out corruption. And on the basis of open economic policies and free trade, they create economic opportunity which can then be used to deal with the just demands of their people for a better life. That's the hemisphere that we see and that we share.

And the United States is completely a part of that consensus. Really, I remember at the Summit of the Americas at Monterrey, I don't think that there's any doubt about where people think this hemisphere ought to be going. The one state that is clearly outside of that consensus is Cuba, where it is so much outside that consensus that it's not able to occupy a chair at the Organization of American States because it is not a democracy.

But we will continue to work with our friends and allies like the Chileans to help bring the benefits of democracy. And when democracies are in trouble, as they have been, for instance, in Haiti, we will work to try and create a path for the Haitian people to stable democracy. That is our agenda.

The United States sees Latin America and the countries of Latin America as partners. There's a long history here that goes back into other centuries. And it's the 21st century now; it is not the 20th, the early 20th century and it is most certainly not the 19th century. The United States needs and desires and wants partners in Latin America who can help pursue that common vision. And they are very much partners. And that's why I've been so pleased to be here with President Lagos in Chile. That's why I've made the trip around Latin America. But it's why we pursued the FTAA, it's why we pursued the democratic charter. It's why we pursued an agenda in the Monterrey consensus to try and bring a better life to our people. This is a matter of partnership, not anyone's back yard.

PRESIDENT LAGOS: (in Spanish) Very briefly about Venezuela, I would like to say that this visit I did it at the end of my administration, it was the last country to visit of South America. And I did it within a framework of any democratic state where you visit the President of a republic and you talk to the opposition, too. And in the meetings I had, I can conclude that: one, there is a government that was legitimately elected. Number two, the opposition has to meet its challenges so as to fulfill the role of an appropriate opposition. Third, there are a series of elements raised by the opposition party that warrant more in-depth conversation of what is happening there. And so, I think, and we so put it to President Chavez, the need to make the different actions transparent.

I believe that with Brazil and with other countries as well, we are pursuing an appropriate, adequate policy vis-à-vis Venezuela so as not to exacerbate the spirit. And sometimes it's good to cool down the level of rhetoric about Venezuela. Thank you.

2005/T6-13

Released on April 28, 2005

ENDS


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