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U.S. Department of State

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

______________________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release
November 10, 1999

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

Fourteen months ago, the inauguration of President Andres Pastrana brought to Colombia a new spirit of hope -- for deeper democracy, for broader prosperity, for an end to that country's long civil conflict. President Pastrana has put forth a bold agenda -- Plan Colombia -- to address his nation's toughest challenges. But the obstacles to a better future for Colombia are substantial. In particular, continued drug production and trafficking puts Colombia's progress in peril. It also fuels addiction and violence in other countries, including ours.

Therefore, I am pleased that the current foreign operations bill, which I hope the Congress will approve, provides our full $78 million request for programs to help President Pastrana fight the drug trade in Colombia. It provides a total of $305 million for global counter-drug efforts, which could allow additional spending focused on Colombia. My overall FY 2000 budget request funds other efforts to assist in this fight -- such as asset forfeiture, military assistance and training -- totaling more than $70 million. Earlier this fall, we approved a further $58 million in drawdown funds for counter-drug efforts in Colombia. And we anticipate providing additional help, including DEA assistance, alternative development, and potential additional drawdown authority.

While we will continue to move forward to aid Plan Colombia with currently available funds, more funding is needed if we are to gain the upper hand in the fight against drugs and help Colombia on the path to stable democracy. I have asked my senior advisors to work with Congress, following completion of the current budget process, to enhance our bilateral assistance programs -- for counter-drug efforts and for other programs to help President Pastrana deepen democracy and promote prosperity. We will also continue to encourage our allies and the international institutions to assist Colombia in implementing President Pastrana's strategy.

Strengthening stability and democracy in Colombia, and fighting the drug trade there, is the right thing to do, and it is very much in America's own national interest. So, with President Pastrana and with our Congress, we must and we will intensify this vital work.

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