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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Foreign Secretary Rosario Green

Press Availability, Camino Real Hotel
Oaxaca, Mexico, January 16, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

Secretary Albright, Jan. 16, 2000SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon, everybody. I want to start by thanking my very good friend Secretary Green for inviting me to Oaxaca. She was a wonderful guide this morning, and I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to visit such a majestic site.

There is so much impressive history here, and it leads me to humbly consider what people will remember about our time. I do believe that history will regard this period in U.S.-Mexico relations as a turning point. The habits of high-level communication and cooperation established by Presidents Zedillo and Clinton should benefit both our peoples for generations to come.

Issues such as migration and cross-border law enforcement will never be easy. But what we have managed to do over the past few years is to develop effective and timely mechanisms, such as the Binational Commission, to review and resolve these kinds of problems, and also to focus on spurring economic growth. Virtually every member of President Clinton's cabinet, and President Zedillo's, have participated in these sessions, but I think it is fair to say that Secretary Green and I have built an especially close working relationship and she has told me we have met ten times in the period since she became Secretary. Today we discussed a wide range of issues, including trade, counternarcotics, and ideas for developing an enhanced trilateral partnership with Canada and suffice it to say, we have plenty of work to do in the coming months.

Before we take your questions, I really would like to thank Secretary Green and the people of Oaxaca once again for being such great hosts. I believe truly that in order to be able to carry out diplomacy, it is essential to understand a country´s history and today I saw a very important part of it. I have been all over the world as a diplomat, but no setting has been more inspiring or beautiful than this one. Thank you very much.

Sec. Albright and ForMin Green, MexicoSECRETARY GREEN: Thank you very much. Good afternoon to you all. I would like to ratify that in this important meeting Secretary Albright and I had this morning with our respective delegations, we have been able to reiterate not only the warm cordial personal relations between Secretary Albright and myself, but also the high level of understanding and professionalism in the dialogue between our delegations.

This is the tenth time that Secretary Albright and I have met on a bilateral basis. It is also a fact that we have met on two previous occasions on a trilateral basis, with the participation of the Canadian Foreign Minister, discussing issues that are not constrained to the NAFTA or trade. We have also participated in a group that Secretary Albright established with other female Foreign Ministers in the world. In this regard we have met twice. In addition to these fourteen times we have met, we have also often spoken on the telephone seeking additional information, clarification or support.

This morning we discussed specific and general issues. Secretary Albright has already outlined some of the issues discussed. However, I would like to state that we discussed a very important issue that we believe we could finalize soon. This issue is the establishment of the maritime border that will determine the continental platform. As you know this issue is commonly known as the "doughnut hole." We have carried out important negotiations, and we hope to conclude them soon.

We have also addressed trade issues, particularly the trucking issue. As you know, a panel to address this issue has been formed. We have also discussed the issue of sugar and high fructose.

With regard to issues that are closer to the daily work of Mrs. Albright and myself, we discussed the whole issue of migration and anti-drug cooperation.

On the migration issue, I have discussed with Madame Albright these two phenomena: on the one hand, the death of Mexican nationals who cross the border through high-risk areas, whose number unfortunately is significant; on the other hand, the task force that has been established for Mexicans and Americans to be able to participate in the following up of investigations in the case of human rights violations of Mexican migrant workers as a result of the excessive use of force by U.S. law enforcement agencies. I felt a high degree of receptiveness on the part of Ms. Albright on this issue, and I think this is very important.

With regards to the anti-drug cooperation, we were able to analyze how we have advanced in the discussion of these issues, from the mere exchange of statistics -- which we used to do in the past regarding seizures, confiscations, etc. -- to a very important and sophisticated issue which is the cooperation against money laundering. Of course, I also had the opportunity to point to Ms. Albright how much we have increased our interception capacity by purchasing highly sophisticated equipment.

Lastly, we addressed common and more comprehensive issues. Issues having to do with the United Nations -- a body where, as you know, Secretary Albright and I share a professional experience. She was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and I was Under Secretary for the UN. Of course, since Secretary Albright is coming from Colombia and Panama, we discussed how we see the panorama in Latin America and the need to strengthen the social sectors in hemispheric countries.

I believe that I could simply summarize that it was very important for us -- for Ms. Albright and myself -- to make sure that we have a bilateral agenda for the year 2000 where we can consolidate the achievements we have made in different areas, and that we can ensure the endurance of our cooperative mechanisms.

I want to stress to Ms. Albright that I am fully convinced that thanks to the bilateral cooperation efforts we can be sure that the next U.S. and Mexican Presidents will enjoy a much higher binational and bilateral platform to continue their cooperation, exchanges and support. I believe we have been able to make a contribution to this effort with the support of the officials from our respective departments, and from the federal administrations in both countries.

QUESTION (in Spanish): The U.S. and Mexican governments are facing a trade controversy that you discussed. The trucking issue has been a source of polemic, and even you (Secretary Green) recently said that this issue involved the U.S. not completely fulfilling NAFTA because of the obstacles allowing Mexican cargo trucks into U.S. territory. Regardless of the fact that this controversy has been channeled to a NAFTA panel, can these issues be resolved through the political dialogue between the two countries -- these problems create controversy in the ongoing bilateral dialogue?

SECRETARY GREEN: I feel that political dialogue creates precisely the right environment so that the mechanisms that we have devised to resolve our differences can also be accompanied by good will. Secretary Albright listened with a great deal of attention to what I said to her, and I believe that the members of the panel -- who have already been designated -- will meet soon to reach a satisfactory solution.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Could I just say this is probably the only country in the world where there is a press conference and somebody says Madame Secretary and one doesn´t know which one. Because we have the same title, and I don´t think this has ever happened before (laughter). And on this issue let me say that obviously we believe that NAFTA has created great advantages for both our countries that provide us a number of mechanisms to deal with issues; and that we are concerned obviously about safety standards and various aspects as is the Government of Mexico and we have a mechanism which we think will help to resolve it.

QUESTION: A question for Secretary Green. Mexico was strongly opposed to the so-called drug kingpin legislation last fall. It was concerned that innocent people might be charged. Have you received assurances from the U.S. side that the legislation or the law will be implemented fairly and that no innocent people will be charged?

SECRETARY GREEN: Yes. I believe first that Mexico was not opposed or against a U.S. law or legislation whose goal is to identify the drug kingpins. We were concerned and stated so at the time to ensure that there was an exchange of information so that there would be no surprises between ourselves and between our governments because we have learned how to work together on several issues including the drug issue.

We have discussed this with Secretary Albright, and we are fully convinced that (the legislation) is aimed against those who are involved in this illegal and criminal activity, and that we will have the information and we will be aware of the progress made in conforming to this legislation.

QUESTION (in Spanish): This question is addressed to both Foreign Ministers -- so that there is no doubt about who will answer. I would like, however, for Secretary Green to answer first. Some U.S. government official recently said that weakness and corruption continue to exist in Mexican law enforcement agencies, but despite this, there is confidence that there would be no problems to certify Mexico. I would like to get your opinion on these three themes: how big is corruption and the weakness of Mexican law enforcement agencies, and how much is Mexico concerned over certification, and in Ms. Albright's case how confident is she in having Mexico certified?

SECRETARY GREEN: Certification was not an issue discussed between Secretary Albright and myself. What you refer to regarding the weaknesses and corruption of Mexican law enforcement agencies is undoubtedly a Mexican issue that is being discussed and addressed by the Mexicans. As you know, at the present time there is a whole program in place to create a national police force that will be embedded with criteria to completely resist corruption and to gain strength. This is a program that is the responsibility of Mexican authorities. What I spoke with Ms. Albright about was the reinforcing of the capability of Mexican law enforcement agencies to fight drug trafficking head-on. I told her about the purchase of 70 fix-wing aircraft, and also of the platforms that will make it possible to do radar follow up and to seal our southern border or Mexico's southeast region -- including of course our territorial waters. Drugs coming through our country transit through this region. This is what we talked about.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say on the certification process it obviously has its own timetable. I think that it is very evident that the cooperation on narcotraffickers is something that is at a very good level. We talked generally about how we are cooperating on all these issues. If you think about the various issues that we have already touched on here, what was clear in the discussion from I think both of our senses here is that these issues should not either be viewed as anti-American or anti-Mexican. What the issue is, is that there are governments that believe in a system of cooperation and who believe in a functioning international system and good bilateral relations and we work on those everyday. And then there are those people out there who feel that a functioning government or a functioning international system is something that they wish to undermine. And I think we can divide things between those who want to cooperate and work together to deal with issues such as narcotrafficking or money laundering and those who want to disrupt it; and I think we are partners so there is nothing from either country, as I believe, that is anti the other. We are partners against a group of people who are seeking to undermine the system of governments cooperating as we are in the 21st century.

QUESTION: I would like to ask a quick follow up and another question on another topic. On certification do you expect that the US will certify Mexico when the issue comes up?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: From our perspective I have to say that I think it is inappropriate to make predictions but I do think it is important that you hear what I say which is that the level of cooperation has been very good. We have had a lot of discussions on this. We will continue to have discussion on it. I believe from my discussions across the board with Secretary Green is that they view the problem of drugs as seriously as we do. It is undermining our societies and this is a common problem and so this is not we versus them or them versus us, this is two competent and important governments trying to deal together to resolve an issue. The certification process has a schedule that it follows, and the decision is made by the President on my recommendation.

SECRETARY GREEN: I want to ratify the fact that indeed Mexico sees the drug and drug trafficking problem as well as all the illegal activities tied to this issue as the main threat to our national security -- President Zedillo has stated so on many occasions. Where there is agreement on the prognosis, I think there is also a strong determination to make decisive efforts to eliminate this cancer of the end of the last century and of the beginning of this century.

QUESTION (in Spanish): This is a question for Secretary Albright, how much is the U.S. concerned about money laundering in Mexico?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say obviously we are concerned about money laundering which is why some of the discussion of this IEEPA legislation and the King Pins and others is something that is of concern to us. Because, again, this is an illicit way of operating, it undermines what legitimate governments are trying to do, and it is important for us to cooperate against those who are trying to undermine our way of dealing with each other. So, yes, it is a serious issue, but what I found most gratifying in talking to Secretary Green is she considers it a very serious issue also. So, again, as part of the same theme our problems are not as much with each other as they are with those that are trying to undermine what we are trying to do.

QUESTION (in Spanish): A question for both secretaries, was any agreement signed at this meeting? And what are you referring to when you say that the next (U.S. and Mexican) governments will have a wider base for the bilateral relations? Are you thinking about some kind of political protection to counter the (critical) statements that could be made in the electoral processes?

SECRETARY GREEN: No, we did not sign any agreement. You already know which agreements were signed in the Binational Commission meeting where we unfortunately could not count with this working group. This was a way to offset the fact that the political affairs committee could not meet at the most recent Binational Commission meeting. When we speak about a higher platform or basis, we mean that throughout the last five years and throughout the administrations of Presidents Zedillo and Clinton, we have worked consistently in substituting the confrontations or the dialogue between deaf that we used to have in the past with an authentic cooperation and a dialogue that makes sense because it addresses the resolution of problems and not merely finger pointing or find guilty parties.

In this regard, I believe that the fact that both presidents can count on this important number of cooperative and working mechanisms will allow our next presidents not to start from zero but to build upon what we already have achieved. In this manner, they will continue to cooperate and to build a relationship that is not only compelled by our geographic proximity, but a relationship that under the free will of both governments is determined to expand the ties of friendship, cooperation and understanding.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think the institutionalization of some of the things that have happened in the last few years is very important because we have now ways that we can talk about issues and have developed mechanisms for dealing with them. I think what is also very interesting both Secretary Green and I are also political scientists and students of how governments work together. In the U.S. -- Mexican relationship there is a broader set of relations discussed than with any other relationships that we have. It affects the trade relationship, it affects normal -- what is known as standard foreign policy issues -- but also, the whole host of new issues that we are all dealing with that are questions to do with drugs and health and environment. This is one example where foreign policy and domestic policy are very much linked so that in both our cases as Foreign Ministers not only do we ... are we concerned about foreign policy issues but how they affect our people directly in a way that I think is truer in this relationship than in any other. And what we are trying to do through the Binational Commission is to ... we have gone a long way, the Zedillo and Clinton Administrations, in making this work and we want to make sure that it lasts.

QUESTION (in Spanish): My first question is for both secretaries, I would like to ask if the structure of the fight against drugs will be modified in the face of the evident failure of the strategy that has been implemented up to now -- I refer to the failure, for instance of the mass graves in Ciudad Juarez and the large number of casualties that Latin American has had in the fight against drugs. My second question is addressed to Secretary Albright, I want to ask her if there are any expectations in the U.S. regarding Mexico's election year. Foreign Affairs magazine has spoken about the possibility of a political assassination -- as it happened in 1994. Is there fear in the U.S. about Mexico experiencing a devaluation, a political assassination or a guerrilla (conflict) as it did during the 1994 electoral process?

SECRETARY GREEN: You go first.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think on the issue of Juarez and other such issues, I think what is very important for all of us is that our law enforcement officials on both sides of the border are able to work and that there not be violence and that there is security for the people working and that there is cooperation in all of the activities. Let me say that as far as elections are concerned, that is the business of the country carrying out its elections. We have enjoyed an extremely good relationship with the Zedillo Administration and we expect to have a good relationship with the next Administration. But it is a matter always for the countries and the voters of the country. We feel that way about our elections and I am sure that Secretary Green feels the same way.

SECRETARY GREEN: The bilateral anti-drug strategy is fundamentally based on cooperation and on respect for the institutions and sovereignty of each country. I believe this is a great strategy. We have no reason to do away with it. I believe it is working, and I believe that the only way in which we can face drug trafficking and all the criminal activity related to this illegal activity is through cooperation. The U.S.-Mexico anti-drug cooperation is very intense, and our cooperation is also very intense with other hemispheric countries. Secretary Albright and I brought to light that the multilateral assessment mechanism of the Organization of American States has been implemented as of January of this year. This mechanism will lead to the expansion of (anti-drug) cooperation and collaboration from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. I feel that Mexico and the United States share the goal of a drug-free hemisphere. In this sense, we will carry out all the efforts we can implement to fight this criminal activity. Mexico is committed in this endeavor, and Secretary Albright has also outlined her government's commitment on this issue.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary Albright, I hope you'll forgive my asking a question not directly related to Mexico but it's very pertinent. The next round of talks is coming up between Israel and Syria on Wednesday. I understand that you spoke to the Syrian Foreign Minister. I wonder if you could tell us what message you had for him and what your hopes are for the next round of talks in view of the difficulties that have come up including Prime Minister Barak's comments about the handover of land which looks like it's going to be delayed and also the issue of settlers. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: And then you want a full history of the Middle East . .(laughter)

Let me just say the following: Clearly the Middle East peace talks have been much on my mind even as I have been in this region. I was in touch with Foreign Minister Sharaa this morning, and we have been in touch with the Israeli Government also. Clearly as we have stated many, many times, the talks are very important and difficult. We are dealing--they are--the two parties, with issues that have not been resolved for many, many, many years. And negotiations go on, and they will go on and I think the important point is that both leaders have to make very important decisions and the United States is doing everything we can to facilitate this and we will keep going at it. But I repeat to you what I have said any number of times -- if this were easy it would have been done a long time ago. And they have to make the difficult decisions and the United States will continue to do everything we can to facilitate them and we expect to keep moving forward. But it's hard, there is no question it is hard. Thank you.

SECRETARY GREEN: The bilateral anti-drug strategy is fundamentally based on cooperation and on the respect to the institutions and sovereignty of each country. I believe this is a great strategy. We have no reason to do away with it. I believe it is working, and I believe that the only way in which we can face drug trafficking and all the criminal activity related to this illegal activity is through cooperation . The U.S.-Mexico anti-drug cooperation is very intense, and our cooperation is also very intense with other hemispheric countries. Secretary Albright and I brought to light that the multilateral assessment mechanism of the Organization of American States has been implemented as of January of this year. This mechanism will lead to the expansion of (the anti-drug) cooperation and collaboration from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. I feel that Mexico and the United States share the goal of a drug-free hemisphere. In this sense, we will carry out all the efforts we can implement to fight this criminal activity. Mexico is committed in this endeavor, and Secretary Albright has outlined her government's commitment on this issue also.

Thank you very much.

[End of Document]
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