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11/10/2007 | Roundtable With Trade and Economic Journalists

De Nuestra Redacción

SECRETARY RICE: Shall we just go directly to questions? I've just given a speech on Latin America and the importance of the three free trade agreements there, but it was, in more general terms, a defense of trade and its importance to the strategic objectives of democratic states that can deliver for its people. That was sort of the theme -- about the Pan-American community and the importance of this particular set of trade agreements, but it was meant to be a broader issue about trade and democratic development.

 

So with that, why don't we go directly to questions?

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Dan Dombey, Financial Times. I was particularly interested in one of the things that you said in your speech. You said we must also ask ourselves what signal would failure send toward enemies of democracy in our region. And I was just wondering if you could expand a little on that and you know particularly at a time when Venezuela obviously has very highly publicized subsidy bills and oil trade bills and so on. How important do you think it is to counter that push, for the U.S. to be seen to be engaging with the region?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the first point I would make is that it is awfully important to stay focused on the positive agenda and not to make it an agenda that is countering anything. This positive agenda is one in which you work with democratically elected leaders who have an economic agenda that is trying to address not just macroeconomic growth, but the link between that growth and prosperity and good healthcare and good education for their people. And that's a positive agenda and we have a number of states in the region that really desperately want good relations with the United States and you address it through economic assistance, we've given -- the President's doubled foreign assistance -- and through trade as well as political support to these leaders.

So that's the positive agenda. Now obviously, it is, in a sense, in juxtaposition to other alternative views of how the hemisphere might develop, which is governments that are increasingly authoritarian, governments that believe that benefits to the people are to be delivered through kind of old-style, either planning or national -- in effect, nationalization, cutting off the free market and people who make the kind of one-time dramatic gesture or -- of the billion-dollar subsidy for this or the subsidy for that. And I think we have to get out and say once you have a free trade agreement and that trade agreement is generating jobs and generating economic growth, that's going to be enduring over many, many years; it's not going to be a one-time subsidy even if those subsidies are delivered.

And I think we all have our doubts about whether they really are delivered, but let's, for the sake of argument, say that they are. You're talking about -- when you talk about the package that these democratic leaders like Uribe and the Central American leaders, the vote today in Costa Rica, Peru, you're talking about a package that is sustained over years and years and years and I think you've seen that with development in Mexico.

QUESTION: Christopher Swann, Bloomberg. I just have a quick question about the logistics of getting through Congress -- that trade promotion authority has expired -- what kinds of tactics do you have for trying to convince people in Congress?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the first point that I would make is that there is a bipartisan consensus on trade that's existed in the United States for a long time and I think we're trying to sustain that and reinvigorate it. It is one reason that the work that we have done with the Congress on issues like labor and environmental standards in trade agreements, these will -- these trade agreements are, in essence, path-breaking -- does help to bring a more bipartisan consensus.

We've also -- and this is really on the substance of the matter, not so much on the tactics -- people have had concerns about what happens to American workers. And so the trade adjustment assistance has been a part of our discussion to, again, sustain the bipartisan consensus.

And then I think you just have to go out and make the argument work with those that I believe in the Congress who really want to see these trade agreements get through, those who understand that it is good for the American economy -- in Colombia, for instance, extremely important agricultural market for our goods. And so there's an economic argument for getting these through, but there's also, then, a strategic argument for getting them through.

And I would say it's kind of retail; one person at a time. We've also worked with committee chairs like Congressman Rangel, but it's retail, working with the Congress people and addressing their concerns and trying to encourage that these votes are going to come up as soon as possible.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, David Lynch with USA Today. Have you made a decision yet on which agreement will go up to the Hill after Peru and if not, when do you plan to decide on whether you'll push Colombia next?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there is an order in which they were negotiated and that would be the natural order. That is certainly our preference. We're going to work with the Congress on trying to get this forward. The important thing is that the agreements be passed, but our view is that there has to be a certain momentum and we have to get them all passed.

I mentioned today that this is an indivisible package; in other words, we see the three as critical and I should mention there's a South Korean agreement out there, too, and I don't want it to be forgotten that we strongly support that too. But we'll work with allies of these trade agreements in Congress to decide how this has happened, but there is a natural progression of them and that would be our preference --

QUESTION: Madame Secretary --

SECRETARY RICE: -- they come in the order in which they were signed.

QUESTION: I understand it would be your preference, but it sounds like you still haven't decided a hundred percent to do it that way.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, that is -- that would be the best outcome here. But again, you know, we're working with people and we're talking to people. It's our belief that that's what should happen.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, when you -- as the Administration gauges members of Congress and moves retail, as you say, one to one, what is your early impressions about the kinds of things that we'll need to be committed to beyond what's sort of already in the public domain to shore up support for the three deals?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've done an awful lot of work, I think, already. As I said, the big issue was labor and environmental and I think we've done that to people's satisfaction. There are questions that -- particularly concerning Colombia -- that I think relate largely to just getting information to people, getting the record straight on what is going on in Colombia, putting it in the context of not taking some of the issues that have been raised about Colombia, for instance, about impunity for those who may have committed crimes; not taking it as a snapshot, but looking at where Colombia was and where this government, Uribe's government, has led Colombia to.

The reason that you're getting all of these disclosures now is that they actually have an independent judiciary. It is a transparent process. Things are being dug out of the past and brought to the table and the government shouldn't be punished for the fact that it's unearthed all of these issues. I have to say that the Uribe government has been very aggressive and stalwart in going after whoever has been implicated. So some of it is trying to make sure that the right information is there.

We've had some discussions with the Colombian Government and with the Congress as well about what might be done to enhance Colombia's capability to bring those who have committed crimes to justice; that is, to increase the capacity of both the prosecutorial arm of the justice system and the kind of investigatory arm of the justice system and that the Colombians have devoted more resources to that. We talked about what more could be done on -- in that way. So I -- and I should mention also, I know that, you know, there have been some concerns are we absolutely determined to protect American workers and trade more generally.

And so the work that we've done on trade adjustment assistance, the work that I think the President is well known for on retraining and job training and community college development, these are all parts of how I see us building the bipartisan consensus not just on these three trade agreements, as important as they are, but on trade more broadly.

The final point I would make is that with these particular trade agreements, of course, you've had a bit of an asymmetry in that because of trade preferences, it has -- you're now leveling the playing field for American goods into these markets and I think that's another point that needs to be made.

QUESTION: Well, have you arrived -- just to follow up -- have you arrived at a sort of understanding about how much could be committed to, say, for instance, on the -- to improving the -- sort of the judicial system as it relates to investigating and prosecuting past crime?

SECRETARY RICE: Those discussions are ongoing, but we -- I do know that the Colombians themselves have made some additions and they've actually been in direct discussions with some members of Congress about what might help. We want to facilitate those. We have no reason that they shouldn't do so. And we're in discussions about what kinds of resources might be available and might be needed.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I'm sorry, to just take you a little bit -- it's within the realm of your relations with Latin America, perhaps not directly related to these three trade agreements, and that is the efforts by Hugo Chavez to act as a mediator. I was just wondering if you could give us a sense of how comfortable you are in his role today. And also, if you could elaborate a little bit what you mentioned at the Council of Foreign Relations on these red lines that shouldn't be crossed; what exactly do you mean by those red lines?

SECRETARY RICE: I think I don't want to get into a lot of detail here because these are obviously very sensitive -- this is a sensitive initiative. And the one thing that I would say is that we've been very -- in very close coordination and consultation with the Uribe government. Obviously, one of the most important reassurances is that whatever happens in whatever initiatives are taken, not just this initiative, that American hostages are treated equally with others.

And I think we're very much in agreement with and our views are coincident with the -- or very similar to the Colombian Government that you don't want to get into a situation that, in any way, undermines the considerable gains that the Colombian Government has made in extending and expanding its writ over all of its territory, for instance. But these are things that we're talking very closely with the Colombian Government about and it was --

QUESTION: Have you had any contacts with the Venezuelan Government about this?

SECRETARY RICE: No, we have not, no.

QUESTION: Just to follow up. It's not on this subject. It's on Panama, which doesn't get much mention about this, but they have elected as their National Assembly President, a person who's indicted in the United States over the death of a U.S. soldier. How do you feel -- is that in any way affecting --

SECRETARY RICE: It's deeply troubling and we have communicated that to the Panamanian Government.

QUESTION: Any response? No?

SECRETARY RICE: That's as far as I'll go.

QUESTION: Did that have any influence over your -- the Administration's decision on whether to submit the agreement to Congress?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've said we're in favor of getting all of these agreements through, but it's a deeply troubling development and we've made that very clear to the Panamanian Government.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, Steve Hurst from the Washington Times. Some observers of the Bush Administration trade policy point to what they fear might be a switch away from a -- I want to say this diplomatically --

SECRETARY RICE: No, you don't have to.

QUESTION: No, I mean, this is the State Department, you -- you know, wonder if perhaps the Bush Administration has given up on a multilateral trade agreement and is, therefore, putting all of its trade marbles rather than (inaudible) in the bilaterals.

SECRETARY RICE: We've always seen them as mutually reinforcing. And I think if you look back at the President's early speeches on trade and even on going back to the Summit of the Americas, which was held in Quebec not long after the President was elected, we talked about being able to engage in trade at three levels: bilaterally, regionally, and on the Comprehensive World Trade Agreement, CWTO. And we see them as reinforcing.

Now obviously, the one that has not gained very much steam is the regional -- Free Trade Area of the Americas, which we continue to support, but we understand that because of various complications there, it's somewhat harder to move that particular agenda forward.

I would note that, you know, we have -- in addition to the free trade agreements that we have signed in the hemisphere, we've been really active on the Doha agenda and -- really active. Susan Schwab has been really active. The President has been really active. I can tell you that in the discussions that he has with President Lula, Doha is probably more than half of the conversation. When he has discussions with the Europeans, a significant portion of that is devoted to Doha, so we're fully committed to Doha and there are some issues the President has made clear are going to be best addressed within the context of Doha, like agricultural subsidies.

So if there's any piece that's been left, I think it's obviously in this region, the regional trade, and that's for a host of reasons. But we've been pressing, for instance, within APEC for a kind of loose regional association for trade there. So I think you can say that we've been -- we've tried to be active on all three levels.

QUESTION: Would you say you're optimistic? I'm sorry, I'm not trying to put words in your mouth but --

SECRETARY RICE: About --

QUESTION: Yeah.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm not not optimistic. (Laughter.) Look, the United States has shown a lot of flexibility and the President has signaled that flexibility. And he's signaled it in public and he's signaled it in private. And this is a matter of will. The developing -- the major developing countries need to come together to find a way to offer a realistic prospect of market access. Europe needs to come with a realistic prospect about what it is going to do on Doha issues, including subsidies. And we've shown flexibility. I still believe that it's possible to do and the President certainly believes it's possible to do.

QUESTION: Well, it seems like in regards to the Colombia deal, it's difficult for many Democrats to support that because labor unions are so fiercely opposed to that and, I mean, the AFL-CIO has talked about the idea of establishing benchmarks by which you could measure Colombia's progress on things like impunity and, I guess, clearing up the paramilitary scandal and so forth.

What's the idea of -- or what's wrong with the idea of establishing a benchmark and saying, you know -- say, waiting until the middle of next year and seeing how Colombia has done on those and then take a look at that point?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think you only have to look at the record of what Colombia has done. This was as close to a failed state as you could get in 2000 and 2001; you know, more than 30 percent of its territory literally under FARC control, police couldn't go into the area, army couldn't go into the area; if you want to talk about impunity, kidnappings and bombings with impunity in the capital.

This was a country that had been devastated by narcoterrorism and by, in effect, militia activity on both sides, left militia activity and right militia activity. This government comes into power and it puts the resources into fighting narcoterrorists that are required, takes back that territory, demobilizes the paramilitaries, begins an open judicial process to punish those who were involved when even former government officials, some of them with ties to the Uribe administration, were accused of having been involved either -- in most cases, either they stepped -- they did step down and then were put before the judicial system.

Uribe speaks very candidly about the need to protect all citizens, including labor leaders. I don't know at this particular stage how much more evidence you need of a committed democratic government, which, by the way, the President of Colombia was elected by an overwhelming majority of his people. And we have to be a little bit careful -- you know, this is -- we say we stand for democracy.

They go out and elect their President by 61 or 60 -- I think 61 percent of the vote and we say we don't trust your leadership enough to sign a free trade agreement with them. I mean, these are the people of Colombia that have elected this President and so I think you have a record to go by. I think you have a government that has bent over backwards to answer the question, a government that has been concerned about human rights, a government, by the way, with which every time I sit down with the foreign minister or the president, I raise the human rights issue and they know that it's high on the American agenda.

But given that and given that we've completed a free trade agreement that would be good economically for the United States, leveling the playing field, good for the Colombian people, good for this democratic government that has taken its country back from narcoterrorism, why would you wait?

QUESTION: Well, in that regard, I mean, the Andean trade benefits that were recently extended expire at the end of February. I mean, would you like to see the Colombia agreement passed before the --

SECRETARY RICE: The three trade agreements are a much preferable -- from the American point of view, much preferable to continued trade preferences that make it not a two-way street, that don't level the playing field for the United States. And so of course, it should be -- these three trade agreements should be through by that time.

I mean, just one side story, it's quite amazing to sit with the Foreign Minister of Colombia who was a hostage this time last year and held by the FARC. So this is just a government that's come an enormous way and has thrown its lot in with cooperation and with the United States. And to say to them, "Well, we'll just wait and see how you do," I think would be a terrible mistake.

QUESTION: Given all the arguments that you make, why do you think a recent poll shows that Republicans by -- I think it was a margin of 2 to 1 are -- think that free trade and fair trade is not in the best interest of the United States, is not helping the United States?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I -- just a little bit what I said to Ambassador Hills earlier when we talked about what we need to do to defend free trade, I think the first is that you really do have to show people how beneficial free trade is, first and foremost, for the United States economy.

I made a strategic argument today for trade, but I also believe that what our trade negotiators are doing is they're going out and they're cutting the best deal they can for the American economy. And I fully support that and that's why, you know, American exports were up dramatically over the last several years that we've had an emphasis on free trade. And by the way, it's not just this Administration, but it's also the Clinton administration and before that, the administration of George H.W. Bush that were very active on the free trade agenda.

You can't look at the benefits of NAFTA and not see the -- how much, you know, the 173 percent growth in trade with Mexico -- of course, it's -- these benefits are to the American economy. So I think somehow, that message has to break through more about what is really happening here. I mean, we continue to have a strong economy, continue to create jobs.

But there is the other side of the coin and being willing to deal with people's concerns and fears about whether the American workforce is going to remain competitive given globalization is worth doing. It's why we have worked on trade adjustment systems. It is why the President's agenda on retraining and giving people a second or a third chance through retraining in community colleges is extremely important. It's why I think the emphasis on building on the President's education initiatives to make sure that the skills are being developed even in the early stages are also important.

So I think people do have some concerns that have to be addressed and we're trying to address them. But free trade is -- free and fair trade are good for the United States. And I should just mention this one other thing, of course, we do, which is that when we catch people involved in activities that are not consistent with free and fair trade, we hold them to account. We've pressed very hard on China, on intellectual property rights, on market openness, using those tools that are given to the President to punish that behavior if necessary.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that question, please? You had the benefit of having served, in some ways, at the beginning and the end of this sort of globalization -- rise of globalization in the first Bush administration and then this one.

And I'm just wondering if you think about sort of the arc of that period, are there things you might have done differently then that would have perhaps addressed some of these worker issues? And do you also sense -- I mean, there were backlashes back then to trade, there always have been periodically. But do you sense more vitality to the -- among the opponents now than there were in years past? And sort of -- I was wondering if you could sort of expand on why you think that is the case, if it's true.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, yes, I am concerned about maintaining a bipartisan consensus for free trade. I'm concerned about it because it served us very, very well; again, growth in the American economy, growth in exports, growth in trade, overwhelming growth in trade with countries with which we've had free trade agreements, you can just go down the list of benefits to American economy. And so one wants to recognize that you can't take for granted that people see the links between those facts and the existence of free trade and perhaps, drawing it more intently.

I know that I do think that we have been better in -- recently and particularly in these last trade agreements, at addressing some of the concerns that people have had about labor and the environment. And so the -- again, if we agree, which I do think there's a broad group of people that believe that free trade is very important, if you agree that that's one of the concerns and then you try and address it -- and I think many would tell you that the provisions in these agreements are landmark provisions. So perhaps addressing that. I can't say addressing it earlier. You address it when you address it. But that's probably helped.

And then finally, this question about the insecurity of the country about openness and should there be insecurity. But I do believe that from the very beginning, certainly in the last several years, President Bush has tried to address that. His State of the Union a couple of years ago talked a lot about what people are seeking now in a changing economic environment. And they're seeking ways to be able to make better personal choices about how to prepare themselves, you know, so that they benefits that are flexible and can -- the sort of standard package of the -- where mom doesn't work and what that means for -- the breakdown of that standard package under different economic circumstances. So he's tried to address that for a quite a long time, but something perhaps we need to address --

QUESTION: Can I just jump in for a second? Because the arguments you're making are not new on the free trade side. And doesn't it seem, though, as you look around, that the free trade side of this debate is losing ground? Doha, despite these Herculean efforts, is still dead in the water. Costa Rica very narrowly approved -- this free trade deal. Support on the Hill is weak for expanding. I mean, you have to move heaven and earth to get these very small potato free trade agreements through Congress. Everywhere you look, it seems like this era of globalization, or support for it, is cresting.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Costa Rica was narrow, but it was a victory for the agreement. And we've been able to get the agreements through. So yes, it's hard and one can't take it for granted. I'm not sure you could ever take it for granted. But let's stipulate for a moment that it's harder in recent years. At least those agreements are still (inaudible). I wouldn't bury Doha just yet, by the way. I still think that there is an opportunity there for leadership in the world to decide that it's not going to allow the failure of this round and that some progress is going to be made. So I wouldn't bury it just yet.

But yes, I said I'm concerned. And I'm concerned that there is a sense in which somehow America feels fearful of -- it feels fearful of its ability to compete. And I think that's linked to a whole host of issues about change and how rapidly change is coming and how uncertain that makes people feel. And by the way, it's not just uncertainty here. It's uncertainty that one senses in a lot of countries around the world. And that then does create a kind of impulse to protect.

But we know from any number of historical experiences that that impulse to protect always leads to bad outcomes. And so what we have to do is we have to go out and talk about why the good outcomes that we've been achieving from an open trading system need to be furthered, need to be allowed to continue, and, as I said, to address some of the concerns that emerge from those who are worried -- continue to be worried about the globalization trends.

QUESTION: But if you're only able to get Peru and Panama through this year, which some people think is all you might be able to do, does that pretty much mean the other proposals are dead for this Administration, given the fact that next year is an election year?

SECRETARY RICE: Again, I don't want to try to speculate on calendar, but I do want to say that these three agreements -- and Korea, but the three Latin American agreements as a package

-- are essential to our strategic interests in the region.

QUESTION: And the mere fact that you are not talking about Korea, some would say that you've given up on them right --

SECRETARY RICE: No, I did talk about -- I did talk about Korea. The speech was about Latin America.

QUESTION: Right, I understand.

SECRETARY RICE: But nobody --

QUESTION: It was a throwaway line.

SECRETARY RICE: No, it was not a throwaway line. I, in fact, wrote it myself, all right? So it wasn't a throwaway line. (Laughter).

The Korea FTA, you know, our seventh largest trading partner, the 10th or 11th largest economy in the world -- trillion dollar economy, strategic ally in Asia, really one of the most important trade agreements from the point of view of trade that we've -- from economic benefit that we've signed. No, we're going to press that one very, very hard, but I wanted to give a speech on Latin America.

QUESTION: And you're not willing to say that if they don't get done this year, they don't get done? You're willing -- you'll keep press --

SECRETARY RICE: We're going to keep pressing. We're going to keep pressing.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) You said in your speech that Colombia perhaps most of all. It would seem from what you said that actually you could drop the word "perhaps," that of those that --

SECRETARY RICE: No, we want all three and they need to all be passed. Obviously, Peru is already out of committee and, you know, so that's underway. You know it is no secret that most of the issues -- that most of the questions have been raised about Colombia. So that was the reason for the emphasis.

QUESTION: You've talked several times about the Administration's support for trade adjustment assistance. I mean, Democrats are talking about a major expansion of that program to bring in service industry workers. Is the Administration onboard for --

SECRETARY RICE: I am going to leave the negotiations on trade adjustment assistance to my colleagues, Elaine Chao and others. But the President has demonstrated that he cares about what happens to displaced American workers. But I think we have to -- in the larger scheme of things, we've had the creation of over 8 million jobs here in this period of time. And so in the larger scheme of things, we're creating jobs, not losing them. And that needs to be said. But there are individual cases or workers who will have difficulty, and the President has been very much committed to helping with those circumstances but also to trying to address the broader challenges of a changing economy for people who may not have the skills that are there for that changing economy.

And I just -- I'm an educator myself and I don't think that we spend enough time talking about the need in terms of the near term problems of a worker who might need to be retrained. There are many options for that worker, and they need to be made available and they need to be understood. But I'm -- full stop. I'm also very concerned and I find really quite devastating 40 percent dropout rates. That's not America. That can't be. A situation in which you have fewer science -- fewer engineering graduates this year than you had last year or the year before? That can't be good for this economy. When you have science and math education at the levels that it is in even some of our best schools, let alone in inner city schools, it's just not acceptable.

And it's important to our confidence as a country. It's important to our ability to lead on these issues of trade. It's important to not turning inward. But frankly, it's important also to who we are as Americans because if it ever gets to the place that this great multiethnic democracy doesn't have at its core that bargain that says that if you work hard and do everything that you're supposed to do, you get a chance through quality education, then we've lost a lot that really goes right at the heart of our social cohesion.

And so if -- to answer your question about, you know, where might the debate have been joined more forcefully, maybe that's the place. I think President Bush has been trying to join that debate.

QUESTION: But a lot of these deals have been sold, as you said, on strategic grounds. And I think -- I'm wondering if you think when the voters hear that and they hear that we have to do this deal because it's in the strategic interest of the United States, they feel that the economic interest hasn't been sacrificed and that the strategic argument trumps their economic arguments.

SECRETARY RICE: And that's why I said what I did, that I believe that what these trade agreements represent is the best effort of our trade negotiators to cut the best economic deal for the United States, the best economic deal for the United States. And I want to just underscore that because when I talk to Susan Schwab and she says, "Can you call so-and-so and tell them I can't do Y about chicken parts," you know, it's not a strategic argument. It's about America's economic interest. And I don't consider that antithetical to what I do as the Secretary of State. I consider it my job also to defend American economic interests. That why when we sit down with, you know, the Chinese, right at the top of my -- well, right in the top of my list will be also intellectual property rights that the Chinese have got to – they’ve got to prosecute people who are violating intellectual property rights.

And so you judge these agreements on, first and foremost, are they good for America, are they good for the American worker? Are they good for the American economy? And I think you will find that we've cut (inaudible) negotiated deals. So yes, other people's interests are going to be represented, too. But I assume that Susan Schwab has negotiated the best economic deal that she can, and I will help her to do that by using my influence with governments to make American economic interests -- I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with Korea and Japan and China about beef. I know more about our record on pork and trichinosis because I've had a conversation with President Putin about that. So I believe that's in our interest.

That said, these agreements are also of critical strategic value. And so you've put together the best economic deal for the United States that the United States can possibly negotiate, with the strategic value of the -- of trade for making life better for people and supporting democratic development, and I think you do have a strategic argument as well as an economic one.

QUESTION: I just want to ask an out-of-place question about the main achievables of your Moscow trip, if you wanted to say that, and whether you were expecting to see President Putin during that trip.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't know whether we will see President Putin, but the plan is to do -- for me to go with Secretary Gates, so it's obviously a discussion of our strategic interests, political-military interests. We want to pursue cooperative arrangements and cooperative discussions with the Russians about missile defense. We think missile defense cooperation is entirely possible. We want to talk to them about the difficult issues that we have -- Iran, et cetera, the cooperation that we are engaging in on North Korea.

And also we are concerned about, for instance, the CFE treaty. And that is part of, after all, of the kind of strategic architecture, military architecture, for post Cold War Europe, and so any -- we're very concerned about Russian noises about perhaps leaving that treaty.

So those are some of the things we'll talk about.

Last question.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you. By the way, I'm Pablo Bachelet with the Miami Herald. On the sphere of influence, taken to an extreme, do you really fear that President Uribe might eventually abandon his very close alliance with the United States and move closer to the Chavez camp?

And second, I was wondering if Colombia went to Congress today, do you think it would have a vote beyond even getting past committee and past leadership? Do you think you have the votes today?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can't speculate about what would happen. And of course, we will cross that bridge when we come to it. But in terms of President Uribe, he's a democratic -- democratic leader. He believes in the strategic security, economic, political agenda that he is achieving, and so he's going to stay true to it.

But it's not assuming that he would go to another suitor. You know, that's not the issue. But this is somebody who has cast his lot with partnership with the United States of America. And it ought to mean something. It ought to mean that when you do that, when you say that the way to help deliver for the Colombian people is in partnership with the United States in Plan Colombia, partnership with the United States in free trade, partnership with the United States in all of those ways, that the United States doesn't turn its back on a good friend.

And again, I want to emphasize, you know, this is a good agreement in terms of American economic interests with our -- a country that takes -- that -- our largest agricultural export market. This is a country that has a preference. This levels the playing field in favor of American economic interests.

It is also a country that has brought itself back with good leadership, democratic leadership, from the abyss. And a narcoterrorist failed state in our hemisphere that was having all kinds of negative consequences for the countries of the Andean and beyond was what mobilized Presidents Bush and Clinton to extensively increase our engagement with Colombia to help it resolve its problems.

Now, in a very brave and courageous way, Colombia is addressing and has addressed and is addressing those problems. And to take an important piece of the puzzle away, which would be the free trade agreement, I think would be extremely unfortunate.

Thank you.

2007/863



Released on October 9, 2007

Offnews.info (Argentina)

 



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30/03/2005|
30/03/2005|
30/03/2005|
30/03/2005|
30/03/2005|
30/03/2005|
27/03/2005|
27/03/2005|
26/03/2005|
26/03/2005|
26/03/2005|
26/03/2005|
23/03/2005|
23/03/2005|
18/03/2005|
18/03/2005|
08/03/2005|
08/03/2005|
08/03/2005|
08/03/2005|
08/03/2005|
08/03/2005|
08/03/2005|
08/03/2005|
06/03/2005|
06/03/2005|
06/03/2005|
06/03/2005|
05/03/2005|
05/03/2005|
04/03/2005|
04/03/2005|
03/03/2005|
03/03/2005|
28/02/2005|
28/02/2005|
27/02/2005|
27/02/2005|
27/02/2005|
27/02/2005|
27/02/2005|
27/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
26/02/2005|
25/02/2005|
25/02/2005|
17/02/2005|
17/02/2005|
14/02/2005|
14/02/2005|
14/02/2005|
14/02/2005|
06/02/2005|
06/02/2005|
06/02/2005|
06/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
02/02/2005|
01/02/2005|
01/02/2005|
01/02/2005|
01/02/2005|
01/02/2005|
01/02/2005|
01/02/2005|
31/01/2005|
31/01/2005|
30/01/2005|
30/01/2005|
30/01/2005|
30/01/2005|
30/01/2005|
30/01/2005|
30/01/2005|
30/01/2005|
29/01/2005|
29/01/2005|
27/01/2005|
27/01/2005|
27/01/2005|
27/01/2005|
26/01/2005|
26/01/2005|
15/01/2005|
15/01/2005|
15/01/2005|
15/01/2005|
12/01/2005|
12/01/2005|
09/01/2005|
09/01/2005|
09/01/2005|
09/01/2005|
09/01/2005|
09/01/2005|
09/01/2005|
09/01/2005|
07/01/2005|
07/01/2005|
05/01/2005|
05/01/2005|
04/01/2005|
04/01/2005|
27/12/2004|
27/12/2004|
27/12/2004|
27/12/2004|
27/12/2004|
25/12/2004|
25/12/2004|
19/12/2004|
19/12/2004|
19/12/2004|
19/12/2004|
19/12/2004|
18/12/2004|
18/12/2004|
13/12/2004|
13/12/2004|
12/12/2004|
12/12/2004|
08/12/2004|
08/12/2004|
06/12/2004|
06/12/2004|
06/12/2004|
06/12/2004|
06/12/2004|
05/12/2004|
05/12/2004|
04/12/2004|
04/12/2004|
04/12/2004|
04/12/2004|
02/12/2004|
02/12/2004|
29/11/2004|
28/11/2004|
28/11/2004|
28/11/2004|
28/11/2004|
28/11/2004|
19/11/2004|
19/11/2004|
18/11/2004|
18/11/2004|
12/10/2004|
10/10/2004|
10/10/2004|
03/10/2004|
24/08/2004|
24/08/2004|
14/08/2004|
14/08/2004|
26/04/2004|
26/04/2004|
11/04/2004|
11/04/2004|
04/02/2004|
04/02/2004|
10/12/2003|
10/12/2003|
05/11/2003|
05/11/2003|
10/10/2003|
06/10/2003|
01/08/2003|
01/08/2003|
28/07/2003|
28/07/2003|
28/07/2003|
28/07/2003|
23/07/2003|
09/07/2003|
24/06/2003|
24/06/2003|
18/06/2003|
18/06/2003|
03/06/2003|
01/06/2003|
17/03/2003|
17/03/2003|
22/02/2003|
22/02/2003|
23/01/2003|
23/01/2003|
15/01/2003|
01/01/2003|
01/01/2003|
01/01/2003|
01/01/2003|
01/08/2002|
01/08/2002|
01/08/2002|
01/08/2002|
19/07/2002|
19/07/2002|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House