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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear

Press Availability, Foreign Ministry
Santiago, Chile, August 17, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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FOREIGN MINISTER ALVEAR: (in Spanish) Good afternoon. It is a great honor for us to have the Secretary of State visit this country on her first bilateral visit, and weíve had the opportunity to discuss global, regional, and bilateral themes. I want to echo Secretary of State Albrightís statements that at this time we are going through a particularly positive moment in our bilateral relations, and both countries share the same vision which was expressed a few months ago at the Warsaw Conference, in which we both co-hosted this Conference of Democracies.

Among the themes we discussed this morning is the follow-up to this conference among democratic nations, democracy being a value that, in the recently initiated 21st century, we are interested in keeping among the top rank of international issues. It was announced during the Warsaw Conference that Chile would be the second country to host, after South Korea, this Conference of Democracies.

On other matters, weíve been able to improve our bilateral relations by making acceptable advancements over the last few months in the Joint Commission on Commerce and Investments. This commission is made up of seven working groups that deal with issues ranging from investments to the themes relative to government purchasing, among others. This series of meetings has permitted us to advance to the point where, this coming October, we Ministers will receive an update on the progress of the Warsaw Conference which will enable us to proceed on a favorable course within our bilateral commercial relations by allowing us to pursue a bilateral trade agreement as well as work together in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a process which we would like to see moving ahead faster.

Finally, I would like to share that we have discussed with Secretary of State Albright our interests in trilateral cooperation with countries where it is feasible to do so, and specifically, among other cases, we have mentioned the possibility of solidifying triangular cooperation in Ecuador, taking advantage precisely of our cultural identity and the possibility that we can help other democracies within our region to advance on social and institutional issues.

Finally, I would like to add that Chile will be the headquarters for a regional preparatory conference that will culminate in the World Conference against Racism that will be held in South Africa in 2001, and this regional preparatory conference will take place in Chile in the month of December 2000 and I have indicated to Mrs. Albright the great interest of our country in encouraging the participation of the United States and Canada in this preparatory conference which will be held in our country, so we can receive their valuable input. Thank you.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Buenas tardes Chile. Itís great to be here. This is indeed my first solo trip as Secretary of State. I was here as Ambassador to the United Nations and then with the President but it is wonderful to be back in Santiago and a pleasure to meet with my friend Foreign Minister Alvear to discuss a number of issues that concern our two countries. I look forward to meeting with President Lagos later in the day.

In June, as she mentioned, the Foreign Minister and I had the pleasure of co-convening the historic first-ever Community of Democracies meeting in Warsaw. As a well-respected leader in this region and a voice with credibility toward the world, Chile is extraordinarily well situated to help consolidate democratic institutions at both the regional and the global level. In our meeting today we discussed the ways to assist threatened democracies in Haiti, Colombia and Peru and we did talk about Ecuador in the way that the Foreign Minister described.

The march of democracy across the Americas in the last two decades has been accompanied by a hemispheric move toward open markets and financial stability. Chile has been a pioneer in this regard and Chile knows that free trade and investment together with government efforts to address social concerns are the keys to growth and poverty reduction. The success of this model in achieving prosperity has inspired other countries to pursue the path of privatization and deregulation. We will continue to work with Chile to promote free trade and market based policies throughout the hemisphere.

Similarly, Chile is a leader in the region in addressing second generation reforms such as lowering trade barriers, reforming the judiciary, protecting the environment and I will be hearing about this countryís experience in these three areas at roundtable visits throughout the day.

I am particularly looking forward to meeting a special group of children and their parents who are helping to enhance the beauty of this wonderful city by restoring some of its green areas. And so I'm again very pleased to be here and look forward to answering your questions.

QUESTION: (in Spanish) Good afternoon. How do you think that South American democracies are affected by political situations such as those occurring in Peru and Venezuela, and does this affect American investments in Chile?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that we have generally watched a trend of the rising tide of democracy in Latin America that has been a source of great comfort and pleasure for North America and the United States specifically. Clearly, as I discussed with the Foreign Minister and as I have discussed in other places, we are concerned about the fact that in some areas democracies are experiencing problems in terms of social and economic aspects and we hope very much that in working together in bilateral and multilateral partnerships we can deal with that and make sure that the rising tide raises everybody.

I gave a speech at the IDB [Inter-American Development Bank] earlier this year in which I did talk about the fact that unless the benefits of democracy are fully shared by the entire population it undermines the prospect of it and that requires economic policies that make sure that all share. That requires the rule of law, functioning judicial systems and democracies, and I think there is no doubt in my mind that democracy is the best form of government. Nevertheless it needs a lot of work and it needs to have the confidence of the people, and ultimately also the confidence of the investors.

QUESTION: This is a question for the Foreign Minister. Will you be supporting Plan Colombia and if so could you describe what that support will be?

FOREIGN MINISTER ALVEAR: (in Spanish) We have manifested to President Pastrana that the peace plan he is proposing is an initiative that certainly deserves the support of all countries. We have espoused that same initiative to all the 19 countries that make up the Rio Group, whose heads of state recently gathered in Cartagena. We also participated in a special mission this past July in Madrid in which the contents of Plan Colombia were evaluated, and all the countries, especially Chile, yearn for peace in Colombia.

QUESTION: (in Spanish) I would like to know whether the investigation being conducted by the Justice Department in the United States seeks to extradite General Pinochet, and if that is so, would that affect Chilean-American relations, which are very good at the moment, the way it affected Chilean-English relations or Chilean-Spanish relations when Pinochet was detained in London?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I donít think itís really appropriate for me to comment ahead as to what might happen. I just have stated before that the decision that was taken by Chileís Supreme Court was clearly historic and significant for the rule of law and for the promotion and protection of human rights in Chile. I have for sometime been saying that it is important for Chile to have been able to handle this issue itself and by doing so I think it has reaffirmed the fact that it is possible for a country to have a stable democratic transition without sacrificing the principles of accountability and justice in the rule of law.

We certainly hope that the resolution of this case will contribute to the resolution of long-standing human right issues and further advance the process of justice and reconciliation here in Chile and I think the way this is being handled is something that should serve as a source of pride. It certainly is something, certainly our relations with Chile generally are excellent and this is just a part of our admiration for the way that the transition to democracy has been handled as this country matures in its overall democratic approach.

QUESTION: Foreign Minister Alvear, I would like to ask you a question relating to the documents that the United States intends to release in September -- some eleven thousand documents, I understand. Could you tell me whether or not you are disappointed that the CIA has said it will not be releasing certain documents which eventually could be very important to finding out more about that period?

FOREIGN MINISTER ALVEAR: (in Spanish) Well, the revelation of official documents pertinent to events that took place in our country is decided by the Government of the United States and, therefore, Chile is in no position to make pronouncements with regard to the contents and certainly if that content contributes to clearing up procedural situations that are passing through our court system, what we should do is to provide the documents that arrive to the judges involved in these pending cases so that they may know about it.

On the subject of how much will be revealed to us, I once again reiterate that there is no statement that the government of this should make.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I know this is an issue of great importance here. The United States has undertaken a massive declassification project on human rights abuses and violence in Chile from 1968 to 1991. This has been something that the President and I have not only supported but have been instrumental in making sure that it happens.

The first tranche of documents was released in June 1999 and the second one in September 1999, and together they total almost 7,000 documents. In June we released documents related to the Harman-Teruggy and Weisfeller cases, and the final tranche of over 11,000 documents is due for release in mid September. We continue, we being State Department, to work with other U.S. Government agencies to insure the fullest possible declassification and release of information, and I feel that the whole enormity of the project reflects our commitment to clarify the historical records of a highly controversial period.

In our bilateral meeting the Foreign Minister and I have discussed this and we will probably continue to do so, but I do think it is very important for people to understand the commitment of the U.S. Government to release and declassify large portions of huge amounts of documents.

QUESTION: (in Spanish) Good afternoon, Secretary Albright. The overall feeling is that the United States did not support Latin America during the Clinton administration. What does your visit signify during Clintonís last term and the current presidential election?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I would not agree with your supposition. I have been to Latin America nine times as Secretary of State. I think the President has been here maybe seven -- Iíll have to get you the number. He is going to be in Colombia at the end of the month and in fact I believe that we have devoted more attention, loving attention if I might say, to our relations within this hemisphere than any previous administration.

I think we have been fortunate to be in office at the time when this hemisphere has gone democratic and allowed us to have relations with our Latin American partners as partners. We have had relationships that are quite deep -- not only on trade issues but on social and economic issues, generally on issues of democracy as we have spoken about -- and I have personally believed that there is a great potential in the solidarity of the Americas.

I hope very much there are a number of things that people remember about my tenure as Secretary of State, but probably the most revolutionary one was that I moved Canada into the western hemisphere. For those of you that didnít know, it used to be in Europe, as far as State Department activities were concerned, and I think by really showing that we are all a hemisphere that acts together, that has common interests. I think it is a strength for the Americas and we have been working on that so I strongly disagree with your original point.

QUESTION: For the Foreign Minister, following up with your answer on the Plan Colombia, could you be a little bit more explicit about to what extent you are willing to support the plan itself and could you give us an assessment of how likely you think this approach to the Plan Colombia is likely to be?

FOREIGN MINISTER ALVEAR: (in Spanish) I would like to reiterate that our country is committed to peace, and that our democratic President is pushing ahead on a difficult path towards peace. In pursuit of this goal, he has counted on the collaboration of the rest of the countries that make up the Rio Group, of which Chile is a member.

Additionally, we participated in a meeting that was organized in Spain for the purpose of familiarizing ourselves with the effects of Plan Colombia, and we are inclined to cooperate within the scope of that plan.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Can I add to this also, because it seems to be a recurring question as to how the countries that Iím visiting are supporting Plan Colombia. For your information, Foreign Minister Lampreia wrote a letter to the New York Times making clear that the answer that was attributed to him was incorrect and that Brazil supports Plan Colombia. Yesterday you heard from the Foreign Minister of Argentina that Argentina supports Plan Colombia and today you just heard from the Foreign Minister of Chile, that Chile supports Plan Colombia.

I think the important point here is that the United States is supporting Plan Colombia to the tune of $1.3 billion. Other donors that met in Madrid pledged another $621 million for Plan Colombia, and it is important to understand Plan Colombia as a comprehensive plan that works, that is looking for funds for alternative development, good governance, anti-corruption, human rights and humanitarian programs and obviously against narcotrafficking.

But I think what I find most heartening is that the countries where I have been, by the way, have not asked for funding for Plan Colombia but have basically talked about the importance of helping President Pastrana to deal with this very serious problems. It will not only be good for the people of Colombia but for the people of the wider region and that is something that has met total agreement with those with whom I have been speaking.

[End of Document]
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