|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright|
Remarks following her meeting with community leaders
Miami, Florida, February 5, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
MAYOR PENELAS: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, buenos tardes. I'm very, very pleased to join Secretary Madeleine Albright and the Archbishop. The Secretary was kind enough to meet just a few moments ago with many of our community partners who assisted in Miami-Dade County's efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Mitch and Hurricane George -- an issue that was very much of interest not only to the Secretary but, of course, the President and the Vice President.
We shared with her the tremendous generosity of this community -- over 3.5 million pounds of donated food, water, medicine, equipment and other goods were donated at our Miami-Dade County fire stations alone, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of pounds that were donated elsewhere.
This, as we told the Secretary today, is just one more of many of these public-private partnerships that this community always seems to come up with in times of need. Whether it's Welfare-to-Work or job creation or dealing with drug epidemics, dealing with transportation issues, we always seem to come together in what I would dare to say is one of the most diverse and progressive communities in the world. People from 156 different countries live here. We speak in over 60 languages. We always come together.
With those words, it is my pleasure to ask the Secretary to say a few words now. She is limited in time. She will say a brief statement first, and then we'll have time for three or four questions.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Secretary of State for the United States, Madeleine Albright. Madame Secretary, welcome.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. It's really been a great honor to meet with you and with this remarkable group of community leaders who told their stories about how they cooperated in terms of helping the victims of Hurricane Mitch. I think it is truly a model for how cities and communities can get together and help not only in local disaster problems but abroad, because we are now actually one world community. Nothing is clearer than that right here because so many people from Miami come from these countries that were affected.
I also want to point out that the President is thinking a great deal about Central America. He, himself, really pushed the entire government into getting early assistance into Central America. We have given $300 million worth of early humanitarian assistance and are now going to go to Congress to ask for additional moneys of several hundred million in order to be able to help the recovery.
The President is going to be going to Central America in March to show his personal, continued interest in this. We hope very much that there will be some good, some silver lining, out of what happened in those countries and that they will be able to rebuild themselves in an even better way than they were.
Before I take your questions, let me just make a very brief statement about King Hussein. We do not have any new information about his condition, which continues to be critical, out of Jordan. They have said that he is on a life-support system, and I don't want to go beyond that in terms of assessing his condition. All I would like to say is that he is a very good friend of the United States and a very good friend of the Middle East peace process.
The President and I have had very close contact with him over the last months. He was instrumental in terms of the Wye peace process, and came from his sick bed in order to exhort the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian leaders to come together for peace. He has provided amazing stability for his country of Jordan. Our prayers are with him and his family and the people of Jordan.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, this morning you sent a message to the Cuban people in the island -- Radio Marti -- can you tell us what it was about? What did you tell them?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The whole effort of the Clinton Administration has been, while maintaining the embargo, to do everything we can to assist the people of Cuba; because actually, the real embargo that exists is Castro's embargo against his own people.
I was saying to them that through the most recent measures that President Clinton took, which allows for increased travel -- more flights that would go from not only Miami to Havana but other cities -- that through the fact that all Americans are going to be able to send remittances to Cubans, direct mail service, more academic, intellectual, cultural and athletic exchanges, and more funding, we hope, for Radio Marti, that there will be more people-to-people contacts and that it will be possible for the people of Cuba to have more space to operate without the control of the regime.
I said to them that my thoughts and the thoughts of President Clinton and Vice President Gore are with them. We are waiting for the day when they in Cuba will be able to enjoy the same liberties that everybody else in this hemisphere is able to enjoy.
QUESTION: A head of the Serb delegation said they will not negotiate with the KLA but they will with other ethnic Albanians. What would this do to the peace talks?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It is not up to the Serb delegation to choose the Albanian delegation. It is very important that they understand that if they do not let KLA leaders come to be a part of the talks, then they will be responsible for the talks falling apart. They know, because we have stated, that if the talks do not go forward, that there are very grave consequences. They need to know that.
QUESTION: Are you optimistic about the talks going forward?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that we have very good negotiators trying to work this out. I think that if the Serbs understand that there is the threat of force if these talks do not go forward, they should understand that it is easier to let the KLA come and negotiate. What we need to do is to move these peace talks forward. The international community is behind it. It is not up to the Serbs to select the delegation of the other side.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) reject them. So what's your reaction to that? How will you intend to implement them, those measures?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that we hope that he will allow these measures to be implemented. He talks all the time about the fact that he cares about the Cuban people. We are trying to help the Cuban people, and we hope very much that he will allow these measures to go forward.
QUESTION: How much more funding are you going to be asking for Radio Marti?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I can't give you the exact amount now. We are trying very hard to pursue various aspects of the Torricelli legislation that allows for increased contact of a variety of ways -- people to people, and Radio and TV Marti.
I was very honored this morning to be able to be present at the dedication of what are really very modern and useful new headquarters that Radio and TV Marti have.
MAYOR PENELAS: One last question.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, what do you think King Hussein's death is going to have on the stability or the instability of the Middle East? What do we know about his replacement?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that I think that King Hussein has designated his oldest son, Crown Prince Abdullah. I was in Jordan last week and made very clear that the United States supports Jordan; that we consider Jordan's role in terms of peace and stability in the Middle East as very important. We will be doing everything we can to make sure that it is possible for peace and stability and our various peace talks to go forward.
As I said, Jordan is a very important country to us, and we will be doing everything we can to support it.
MAYOR PENELAS: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
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