|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Press briefing, Miami International Press Center
Miami, Florida, April 15, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am delighted to be back in Miami even briefly, and to have this opportunity to review our agenda with you on the eve of the second Summit of the Americas.
That is appropriate because it was in this city three and a half years ago that the Summit process was launched, and with it a new vision of the Americas as a hemisphere of democracies working together on the basis of shared values to promote common interests.
I'm pleased to have Luis Lauredo, Executive Director of the Summit of the Americas Host Committee, here with us today. Luis and his team helped make that first Summit a historic success-ľone with "Miami" written all over it. Thank you Luis.
We can't have every summit in Miami -- but we will have the spirit of Miami at every summit.
And the United States is in fact taking a great team to Santiago: the President and the First Lady; Mack McLarty, Counselor to the President and Special Envoy for the Americas; Attorney General Janet Reno; Secretary of Commerce William Daley; Secretary of Energy Federico Pena; Secretary of Education Richard Riley; U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky; Barry McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; Aida Alvarez, Administrator of the Small Business Administration; National Security Adviser Sandy Berger; other senior U.S. officials; and Members of Congress
In Santiago, our delegation will join the 33 other democracies of our hemisphere as we build on the achievements of the first summit and, as President Clinton has said, "turn words into deeds."
They will focus on four areas: boosting investment in education as a foundation for success in the next century; strengthening democracy; expanding trade and economic integration; and fighting poverty and discrimination.
Let me talk a little about the summit's goals in each of these areas.
Education, as President Clinton has said so often, is the most basic investment we can make in our shared future. Our hemisphere is making good progress toward the goal of sending every child in the Americas to elementary school. In Santiago, we will announce plans to dedicate new resources to education, and help give each of our citizens the tools he or she needs to build a better life.
The growth of democracy in this hemisphere over the past two decades, in every nation except one, is a landmark development.
At Santiago, the leaders will take steps to make this welcome trend secure in every nation and relevant to every citizen. We will develop new strategies to strengthen democratic institutions, including a free press, independent judicial systems, and effective local government.
We will also seek to extend the rule of law by combating international crime. Through our Alliance against Drugs our nations will work as full and committed partners to evaluate and improve our performance in the war against narcotics trafficking.
Last year, the governments of our hemisphere negotiated the world's first anti-corruption convention, and its first agreement to block illicit trafficking in firearms. We will continue to expand security cooperation, promote arms control, and work together to keep dangerous weapons from falling into the wrong hands.
There will, of course, be one nation not represented in Santiago, because it stands apart from our democratic community. That nation is Cuba. It will be welcome among us when its people, like their neighbors, are free to choose their government. And the United States will do all that we can to press for human rights and a peaceful transition to democracy there.
At the summit, we will also launch negotiations to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas by the year 2005. I want to congratulate Miami on being chosen to host the first three years of talks -- and I am sure the city will once again be a showcase for hemispheric prosperity and partnership.
Taken together, the Free Trade Area of the Americas and our other initiatives for democracy and development will do more than increase commerce. They will lift living standards in every sector of society and improve the quality of life for everyone.
To make that happen, our nations will take steps in Santiago to ensure better protection for basic worker rights, and to set new goals for cooperation to protect the hemisphere's environment and combat climate change.
And we will share strategies and set common goals to fight poverty, promote opportunity for the poor, women and minorities, and improve basic health and sanitation services.
The nations of the Americas can work together to achieve this ambitious agenda, not without challenges and setbacks, but with the understanding that we share a common history -- and that is the struggle for independence and freedom.
We have a common vocation, and that is democracy, which Octavio Paz once called a "heroic act of baptism for our peoples." And with the drive of places like Miami behind us, we share a commitment, from Alaska to Argentina, to build a future that is better than the past.
Thank you. And I'm happy now to take questions.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, in reference to the execution (inaudible) are you concerned for the safety (inaudible)?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I hope very much that they are not. In my own letter that I wrote to the Governor of Virginia, I wanted to make clear that it was very important that it be recognized that the United States understands our obligations under various international treaties and consular conventions and that we believed it is important for citizens of countries to avail themselves of consular help and that we respected the International Court of Justice.
The issue, as I know you have heard from others, is that basically the case of Mr. Breard is one in which we would agree that the presence or absence of their consuls would not have effected the verdict itself. We have a federal system of government and the decision was made, I think, on the basis of what happened in a state. To answer your question specifically, I hope very much not. We will continue to say that we believe that an international system of consular visitation rights and the ability for governments to speak on behalf of their citizens is important.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, why are the direct flights to Cuba taking so much time to get started?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think we are working on all the technical aspects of that. It is very much in process and it will be able to happen soon. I think there are a set of regulations and various procedures that have to be worked out. Everyone is working on it and we are looking forward to having them happen soon.
QUESTION: Do you expect any increased pressure at the summit from world leaders to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am sure that the subject of Cuba will come up. And I am sure that the world leaders will be talking about the importance of having a different relationship with Cuba. The truth is: we will, too. We will say that it is very important for us all to act together to make sure that there is a transition to democracy in Cuba. And that with the help of everybody and concerted ability to work together, in order to show that as a part of a democratic evolution Cuba should be a part of it, this is how we will answer it. But I think it would be unrealistic to think that it is not a subject that would come up.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as you said, four years ago there was a great deal of optimism about a Free Trade Area of the Americas and other issues. Many would say that optimism was displaced, now that the U.S. has stepped back from its role and has not moved forward on a number of issues, among them trade issues. How would you answer those charges?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I would start by saying that it is not true. Basically, I think that we have very much been working on a bilateral basis with countries, also being supportive of a variety of regional arrangements where trade barriers are lowered.
We are determined to move forward, as I said, in working towards this free trade area. We think that there are a number of ways to get those talks started -- even without the presence of fast track. I think people need to be reminded that the Uruguay Round went on for two years before fast track authority was given. So I think the process is one in which there is an increasing integration in the Americas as we see our goals and abilities to work together multiply -- and our goals are common ones. And what I feel in my own travels around the hemisphere or in meetings which I have with various subgroups of my counterparts, whether it is with the CARICOM foreign ministers -- with whom I just met -- or the Central American Foreign ministers, that there is an increasing sense of solidarity of the Americas.
We find that we can work together on issues that know no borders and that are the kinds of challenges and threats to the 21st century. We are all quite satisfied with the fact that the process is going forward. This summit is an important part of it. The talks that are going to be going on, as I said, here in Miami for the next three years will be the working process of following up. And I think it is a process that is in good train.
QUESTION: Following up on the trade issue, what is the most important thing that could come out of this summit with regard to trade?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it is a matter of recommitting ourselves to the free trade area and setting up the various procedures that we can work together using, whether it is MERCOSUR or the CARICOM or the Central American Market, or NAFTA, as basically building blocks toward a hemispheric free trade area. These should be seen as ways of building together and moving, in terms of getting more work done toward the free trade area. And if I might say, recommitting ourselves to going to Congress to try and get fast track authority.
I think, if I might say, there are many parts of this summit that we think are keystones. And as I mentioned in my remarks, the emphasis on education as the basis for moving democracy and prosperity forward in the Americas, as something that is applicable across the board and creating the 21st century generation that is going to be able to pursue this, is going to be a very important outgrowth of this summit.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you have spoken to the issue of the safety of U.S. citizens, but do you see any other ramifications to the execution, in spite of the world court's position?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Frankly, I think it is going to be a case that will be debated for some time because there are other examples in the country of foreigners who are here who say that they may not have had proper consular guidance. So I think there will be other cases.
From a proactive approach, I can just tell you that we have made very clear that it is essential that any foreign national who is arrested, for any reason, that person is told immediately that he or she is entitled to be in touch with his or her consul. That has been procedure, but we are reiterating that as standard operating procedure and I think that is an important outgrowth of this.
I think generally, as you know, there will be criticism of the United States. But we believe that we did the right thing and that there is no doubt that Mr. Breard was guilty of brutal crimes for which he was sentenced. I think that we need to make sure that people get a fair trial. This particular person, in the review of his case, it was very clear that he spoke good English, that he had a fair trial, with good lawyers and support if his family -- which is the decision that the Supreme Court reached -- so I think there will be probably greater care, as there should be, when everybody is really allowed to have their consuls because it is something that we will insist on and do insist on when one of our citizens is in trouble abroad.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what can we expect in the way of new arrangements to evaluate each nation's anti-narcotics efforts?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that we have to keep in mind that the certification process is the law of the land and we will pursue that. But as I said, there is going to be a kind of mutual evaluations set up through this narcotics procedure. What I have found is that we are not alone in being interested in making sure that narcotics trafficking does not take place. So while obeying the law of the land -- which we will continue to do -- we will look for ways that we can all work together more to asses the situation.
And let me just as an example tell you that last week I was off the coast of Haiti on what I would say was a paramount example of hemispheric cooperation to deal with drugs. I had flown out to be on an American Coast Guard cutter, the Dallas. At that time there were Haitian and Dominican Republic officials on the cutter and they were, in fact, in the process of a chase of a boat that they finally got in Colombian waters with the support of the Colombian Government. So it is that kind of an example of cooperation that I think is the wave of the future, in terms of dealing with drugs.
QUESTION: With the summit, will there be more than well meaning rhetoric? Meaning, is there going to be a system of reporting results of efforts in the areas of poverty, judicial reform and so on?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes. First of all, I think that the working groups here, what is going to be happening in Miami, will be a compilation of working groups to follow up the various parts of it. Second, President Clinton wants to make sure that there is money in order to follow up these initiatives. Over the next three years, in cooperation with our bilateral assistance programs and banks, the international banks and the International Monetary Fund, we see $40 billion being gathered and used in order to follow up the results. So as President Clinton said, this is not just words, this is going to be deeds. That is the value of getting together again and creating a structure through these working groups and through money. And we will be working together in order to have some real results out of this.
QUESTION: Now Colombia is going to elections and the political situation in Colombia is changing. Is the political position of the United States regarding narcotics going to change because Samper is leaving?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Our position is based on whether there is full cooperation in dealing with the drug problems. How the government reacts to the various measures, the level of cooperation we judge on a year-by-year basis, and I think that we will see. As I said, we granted a national security waiver because it is very important to us to be able to work with Colombia in order to deal with what is obviously one of the most serious drug problems in the hemisphere. So we will make the judgment according to the level of cooperation by the government and the results.
[End of Document]
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