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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Ambassador Luis J. Lauredo
U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of
American States (OAS)
Statement at Presentation of Credentials Ceremony
Washington, DC, January 11, 2000

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Mr. Secretary General, distinguished colleagues, friends: I am sincerely honored to have been chosen by President Clinton to represent the United States before the Organization of American States. This is the most exciting, dynamic period in U.S. relations with the Western Hemisphere and I am delighted to become part of the crucial work of building a stronger, cooperative partnership with our neighbors.

I was privileged to be at President Clinton's side at the first Summit of the Americas in Miami. Since that historic meeting, we have seen how its Action Plan has driven a process of growing cooperation in virtually every field of human endeavor. It has also promoted a new culture of mutual respect among the nations of the region. The Americas have dramatically advanced the goals of democratic governance and peaceful relations. A new spirit of common cause has been born to address our significant remaining social and economic problems.

As a son of Miami, a city which prides itself on being the capital of the Americas, I am especially pleased to be accredited by my government to this House of the Americas. In southern Florida, perhaps more than anywhere else in the United States, we fully appreciate the tremendous benefits of closer ties between the United States and other nations of the hemisphere. We were among the first in the United States to embrace the concept of a Free Trade Area of the Americas. Much of my professional life in both the private and public sector has been given to developing a better understanding of the peoples of this region and to strengthening our ties with them. I view my service as U.S. Ambassador to the OAS as a unique opportunity to continue my pursuit of those goals.

Mr. Secretary General, I look forward to working with you and others in the General Secretariat. The challenges are great but there is a strong consensus in this hemisphere on democracy, open markets, rule of law, and a common commitment to peace. As a result, we have an unprecedented opportunity to consolidate progress and bring even greater renown to the OAS as the world's premier organization for regional cooperation. I pledge to do my very best to keep up the momentum.

[end of document]

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