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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks Prior to dinner with President Moscoso, Presidential Palace
January 15, 2000, Panama City, Panama
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: President Moscoso, distinguished Vice Presidents, members of the cabinet, ladies and gentlemen:

Fifteen days ago, we marked the end of one volume in the history of the relationship between Panama and the United States. But we also started a new era that is full of hope and great promise.

Last month's Canal transfer reflects a process of growth in both our countries, through which discredited patterns of paternalism and resentment have been supplanted by partnership and resolve.

Our two governments have quickly developed an excellent working relationship, with a far-reaching agenda that includes not just the security of the Canal, but also fighting organized crime and drug trafficking; assuring the integrity of national borders; environmental protection; increased trade and investment; and strong support for democratic institutions and human rights.

This is a broad agenda, and an ambitious one. But if human hands and minds could build the Panama Canal at the outset of the twentieth century, we would be fools to limit our vision at the outset of the 21st. We must dare to dream of a future in which a similar combination of ambition and technology will both enrich the quality of life for everyone from David to Darien and from Patagonia to Prudhoe Bay.

So let me say for me it was a personal pleasure to be able to be here today. I worked on the Panama Canal Treaty in 1976 and 1977 both as member of the staff for Senator Muskie and then as a member of the National Security Staff for President Carter. I am very proud to have been able to be at the Canal today. I think I even understand how it works, and I turned the locks; with my own power I helped a ship go through. I consider that it was, as you said Madam President, a very important act of the United States to turn over the Canal to the country to which it belongs. I would like to say that I also consider, and I hope that you do, it very symbolic that my first trip as Secretary of State in the 21st century is to Latin America. I hope you will see this as a sign of a millenium in which the Americas will have an entirely new relationship. So let us work together for democracy and prosperity in both our countries and in this wonderful hemisphere of ours. Thank you very much Madam President for your hospitality.

[End of Document]
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