Luis J. Lauredo
Permanent Representative of the United States to the OAS
Remarks to the OAS Permanent Council Regarding the San Juan River Dispute Between the Governments of Costa Rica and Nicaragua
Washington, DC, March 8, 2000
The United States is deeply disappointed to be dealing once again with a border dispute between two OAS member states, particularly in a region that cannot afford to divert its attention from far more serious problems. In the face of Hurricane Mitch's aftermath, the threats of narcotrafficking, and the challenges of regional economic integration, it is simply not helpful for countries to be engaged in territorial disputes. We recognize that these issues are complicated and may require extraordinary effort and attention on behalf of both governments to come to an equitable and agreeable conclusion.
Disputes over territory do nothing to advance the region's political, economic, or security agenda. They discourage investment essential for long-term economic growth, they discourage potential donors whose support is essential for financing reconstruction, and they obstruct the efforts toward economic integration of Central America.
Most important, they distract from the spirit of cooperation and mature relations sparked by all our Presidents and Heads of States in the Summit of the Americas process -- a new era based on shared values of democracy and a focus on the economic betterment of the people, of the Americas, and guided by modern practices of political leadership as we enter the 21st century.
This same summit process has given new relevancy and mandates to the OAS and a chance to be proactive in the defense of our shared visions and responsibilities in the hemisphere.
Therefore, while we believe a solution should be reached through bilateral talks, my government has no objection to the Secretary General's exploring with the two parties a role, acceptable to both, for the OAS in promoting a solution.
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