March 24, 2002: Presidents Bush, Salvadoran President Flores Joint Press Availability

President George W. Bush and Salvadoran President Flores made the following remarks in the Casa Presidencial in San Salvador, El Salvador, at 1:00 PM (local) on March 24, 2002.

PRESIDENT FLORES:  Good afternoon.  It is an honor for us to be here with you, and to be able to answer the questions that you want to ask President Bush and myself.  I would like to start by saying that for El Salvador, it is an immense honor to have President Bush in our land.

President George W. Bush and El Salvador's President Francisco Flores (right) hold a joint press conference in San Salvador, El Salvador, March 24, 2002. "El Salvador is one of the really great stories of economic and political transformation of our time. Just over a decade ago, this country was in civil war," said the President in his remarks. "The country has renewed its commitment to democracy and economic reform and trade. It is one of the freest and strongest and most stable countries in our hemisphere." White House photo by Eric Draper.

El Salvador has been a country that has faced enormous difficulties — the war, combat against poverty, earthquakes.  And El Salvador has done this through a system of freedoms, in the search of a democracy, the search of economic freedom, as well — giving people the opportunity, the opportunity to get education, to trade of their products, and to integrate into the new world.

So a country like ours, that believes in freedom, feels especially honored to have a world leader that has built a leadership based on values and principles, values that have to do with the rights of human beings. And this allows us, countries that are so different like the United States and El Salvador, to find each other in a common point.

So welcome to our country, President Bush.  It is an immense honor to have you here in our country.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Gracias, Senor Presidente, mi amigo.  Thank you, President Flores, for providing such warm hospitality in this beautiful country.  Laura and I were struck when we flew in about your beautiful mountains and your beautiful sea.  I’m honored to be here, for the first time in my life.

We’ve just completed our fifth meeting — this is the fifth time that the President and I have met.  And in each of them, I have come away from out meetings most optimistic about the future of El Salvador.  I truly believe this country has got a unique President and a great President.  El Salvador — and the reason why I believe that is because of the success of the country.

El Salvador is one of the really great stories of economic and political transformation of our time.  Just over a decade ago, this country was in civil war.  For millions of Salvadorans, violence was a daily reality, and prosperity was just a distant dream.  Today, El Salvador is at peace.  The country has renewed its commitment to democracy and economic reform and trade.  It is one of the freest and strongest and most stable countries in our hemisphere.

The United States considers El Salvador a close friend and strong ally.  As friends, we come to each other’s aid in times of crisis.  Since September the 11th, El Salvador has been unwavering in its support for the international coalition against terrorism.  I want to thank the President and the people of El Salvador for their prayers for the American people during this crisis.  I want to thank you, as well, for ordering a freeze on suspected terrorist assets and for strengthening your border security.

And when the devastating earthquakes hit El Salvador last year, the United States immediately dispatched rescue workers and relief assistance. We proudly contributed millions of dollars to El Salvador’s reconstruction effort.  And we will spend even more in the year 2002.

Our countries are united by ties of commerce and culture and kindship. The large number of Salvadorans who live in the United States make valuable contributions to our economy and send approximately $2 billion back home to family members in El Salvador each year, cada anno.  Trade between our countries now approaches $4 billion annually.  That is up 140 percent.  And trade means jobs.  Trade means people who want to work are more likely to find jobs in both countries.

El Salvador is one of the really bright lights in Latin America.  Many countries in this region have changed old ways and have found new wealth and new freedom.  In this coming decade, El Salvador and the United States, and nations throughout this hemisphere are committed to maintaining and extending this progress.

Greater trade can help us accomplish this goal.  In January, I announced we would pursue a free trade agreement with Central American nations.  And the President and I, after this press conference, will be having lunch with other leaders in Central America to discuss this very proposition.  And we’re also going to continue to pursue the Free Trade of the Americas, which aims to encompass the entire hemisphere in a free trade agreement.  Completing these agreements will promote prosperity throughout the hemisphere, and reinforce the region’s progress toward political, and economic, and social reform.

I just met with two El Salvadorans, who are seated right here, who personify the cause of reform.  One’s an architect, and one’s an economist. They are El Salvador’s first two participants in the Americas Fellows Program.  Soon, they will be coming to Washington to spend time working in the United States government offices, where I believe they will acquire new skills and training.  And they can bring them back home, and share them with others.  And thank you all so very much about participating in the program.

I’m also optimistic about this country’s future.  There’s no doubt in my mind that because of this man’s leadership, there are bright days ahead for El Salvador.  And it’s an honor to be invited here, and it’s an honor to call him friend.  And I want to confirm the fact that this nation remains a strong ally with the great people of El Salvador.

Senor Presidente, gracias.

Questions.

Q    Good afternoon, President Bush.  Good afternoon, President Flores.  As you said, I’m William Melendez (phonetic) from Channel 12, and I have the honor of trying to summarize the questions of all my other colleagues and the mass media of El Salvador.

Presidents, the benefits, the needed benefits of a free trade agreement can delay themselves, if we are not mistaken, to arrive to our countries, maybe five, six years, because the mechanism is a bilateral mechanism, bilateral negotiation.  And so the migration could continue working hard during that phase.

I would like to know, what will the treatment be of the United States of America for those fellow men of ours so that they can regulate their migration status immediately.  And, besides, since poverty is the weakness, what conditions could be applied so that the countries, the poorer countries of our region, especially El Salvador, can optimize their resources and avoid that the states could become main allies of the economic oligopolies?

PRESIDENT BUSH:  A couple points.  One, you’re right, trade agreements sometimes take too long.  And we intend to push as hard as we possibly can to get the trade agreement done.  I was very serious when I announced the trade agreement and we’re going to work hard to expedite the agreement.

Secondly, the President made an interesting suggestion, which I will take very seriously.  He said, make sure that a country is allowed to accelerate its moving into a free trade agreement.  In other words, if the country meets conditions and conditions of rule of law and private property, conditions that I’m confident El Salvador will meet early, let us make sure that if another nation hadn’t met those conditions, El Salvador can ascend to the free trade agreement early.

So one way to cut the time is to analyze the President’s request.  It made a lot of sense to me, and we’ll take a good look at it.

There’s no question there’s a lot of hard-working Salvadorans in the United States.  And the first thing I want to assure the people of this good country is that we want to make sure they’re treated with respect.  We want them to be — we recognize — I recognize that family values, something we talk a lot about in American, don’t stop at the Rio Bravo.

There are people who care deeply about their families in El Salvador; they want to work; they’re looking for jobs.  And the cornerstone of good economic policy, or good immigration policy, is to match a willing employer with a willing worker to make that happen, to facilitate that arrangement. And that’s going to be the cornerstone of immigration reform in the — as this issue comes up in Congress.

On the other hand, there are specific areas of immigration policy that affects the people of El Salvador, starting with TPS.  My administration granted TPS last time the issue came up.  And it doesn’t come up until September, and we’ll take a very hard look at it this summer.

And the second issue is a bill that’s working through the Congress introduced, if I’m not mistaken, by a Democrat and Republican — one named Berman, one named Davis — that would grant same status to Salvadorans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, as those granted to Nicaraguans and Cubans.  And we will take a look at that bill, as well.

In term of oligopoly, the best way to avoid oligopolies is to encourage open markets and competition.  The best way to make sure that oligopolies do not dominate an economy to the detriment of the people is to do what the President’s done — insist that the markets be open; insist that competition allowed — is encouraged.  And another way to enhance open markets and competition is through trade — honest, open trade.

And so that’s what I’ve come to talk about today.  And I believe President Flores is on the absolute right track to making sure oligopolies don’t dominate this economy.

Ken Walsh, U.S. News, fine American.  (Laughter.)

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Mr. President, when you return home, new campaign finance legislation will be awaiting your signature.  I wonder if you could tell us if you’re going to, given your criticisms of campaign finance legislation in the past, if you’re going to sign this bill reluctantly or whole-heartedly; what the impact you think will be on our political system; and how you regard the impending legal challenge to the legislation?

PRESIDENT BUSH:  I sign it — I have a kind of a firm, semi-firm signature as it moves across the page — (laughter).  I wouldn’t be signing it if I didn’t think it improved the system.  And I think it improves the system this way:  One, individuals will be allowed to contribute more to the campaigns.  I’ve always been skeptical of a system where monies were put into the system where people didn’t have a choice — whether it be a labor union worker or a shareholder of a corporation.  Sometimes shareholders of corporations — they make an investment for hopefully a good rate of return, and yet they wake up and realize that some CEO or somebody’s made the decision to support a political party or a candidate not of their choosing.  And I’ve always kind of thought that the individual ought to have a choice.  And so, therefore, the fact that the system encourages more individual participation I think is positive.

Finally, they’ve raised individual limits.  I also think this will help challengers.  And as much as I now love incumbency — (laughter) — I think it’s important to encourage challenges in the system.

I am worried about some of the provisions; I stated so in my signing statement.  One such provision was that you can’t — they’re going to try to control who can participate in the election process in the last 60 days. And we’ll see whether or not that stands up.  I’m going to stay, by the way, totally apart from the legal matters.

One of the things I’m disappointed in the law is — and again, this may not stand a court challenge — but I’ve always thought that people who pump money into the political system, we ought to know who they are.  I was a little discouraged — not discouraged — I was quite discouraged at the end of the 2000 campaign to see tons of dollars flowing into the political campaign at the last minute, on these so-called independent groups, and we don’t know who was funding them.

And — you know the kind of ads I’m talking about:  scurrilous, untrue ads, coming into the campaign.  A so-called front group, independent.  And we don’t have any idea who’s putting the money in.  And that’s not good for democracy.

And so I didn’t particularly appreciate the fact that this campaign bill didn’t adequately address full disclosure.  Now, the excuse, evidently, was the courts won’t allow it.  Well, I would have liked to have seen them challenge the system, to see whether the courts might allow it now that we’re going into the 21st century.

But, nevertheless, the bill is a better bill than the current system, and I’m going to sign it.  And there will be — I take it back.  It will be a signature — I won’t hesitate.  It will probably take about — you know, about three seconds to get to the W, I may hesitate on the period, and then rip through the Bush.  (Laughter.)  Thank you.

Q    Good afternoon to both Presidents.  The first question is for President Bush, because we’re talking about taking very seriously the free trade agreement with Central America.  President, you’re also saying and talking about openness.  You said that we were going to eliminate subsidies in the International Conference for Development in Monterrey.  But the market of the United States continues being a protectionist with your national — there are subsidies for agriculture.  I don’t know how much it would be willing — that is, your government — to eliminate these subsidies that are really disrupting the market of the small producers. And also, if the Senate is going to approve in the short-term the permit to start the negotiations, because it also — the advancement of the free trade agreement will depend on this also.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Let me just say one thing.  Look, we buy more goods from all around the world than any nation.  And, of course, we’re the biggest nation, we’re the biggest market.  But, nevertheless, we buy billions of dollars of goods on an annual basis — billions.  I think it’s like $650 billion a year the United States purchases from countries.  And Africa alone, we signed a free trade agreement with Africa and we had a billion dollars of purchases last year, which significantly increased employment in Africa.

And there are some instances where we’ve got — farm policy, for example, where people — where the Congress has decided to fund certain programs.  But this — our market is wide open.  And by the way, any time there’s unfair trade, we will respond, and I have done so, and will continue to do so, because free trade must be fair trade, as well.

But I think if you look at the facts and statistics, you’ll find that the U.S. market is one of the most open markets in the world, and we intend to keep it that way.

PRESIDENT FLORES:  I would like to say the following:  Never, never in the history of El Salvador had El Salvador had the opportunities that they have with the United States of America, thanks to the Caribbean Basin Initiative.  And never had El Salvador had the possibility of signing a free trade agreement with the United States before.  So the possibility of openness that the region has with the United States has no precedent in the history.

Today, while we were flying with President Bush from the airport to this site, I was telling him what this openness is doing in El Salvador. And I was explaining to him that many women in the rural areas have opportunities to work today thanks to that openness of the United States. And it is producing a dramatic change throughout the rural areas of our country.

Undoubtedly, the comparison between donated funds and trade is a comparison that is very different, because it is so much more important to have trade than donations.  So in this sense, we believe that the focus of President Bush is absolutely true:  that the only way to come out of poverty is through work.  And the way to generate employment in our region is giving the possibility of investment and work and labor.

Obviously, the agricultural topic is a topic, is an issue, but this has had an enormous advance for the Salvadorans and the region.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Are you asking another question?

Q    Yes —

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Okay.  What is it?

Q    Excuse me.  My colleagues from Guatemala are asking that in Guatemala there has been the withdrawal of the visas to some militaries. And they want to know if this is part of the control or the enforcement of the improvement of economies that the countries are asking for.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  —

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Mr. President, what is —

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Raise the mike a little.

Q    Don’t think it goes that high.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Okay.  (Laughter.)

Q    What is your reaction to the Democratic Party using its national radio address to criticize you on foreign soil, saying you made this trip to Latin America merely to pander to Hispanic voters?

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Wow.  That was the ad?

Q    Yes.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Or not the ad, but the — well, I guess I’d say I’m disappointed.  When I first got elected, I said the best foreign policy for the United States is to have a prosperous, peaceful and free neighborhood. My first trip as President of the United States out of the United States was to Mexico.  And my longstanding interest in this — in Mexico and Central America is well-known.

I firmly believe that the best policy for the United States is to pay attention to our friends, is to promote trade.  Trade produces liberty and freedom.  And sometimes in Washington, D.C., people cannot get rid of old habits — which is petty politics, Mr. President.  But that’s just what happens.  But people in America know that our administration is focused on what’s best for America.  And what’s best for America is a prosperous and peaceful El Salvador, y Mexico, y tambien los paises in Sur de America. There is a great opportunity for all of us to be equal partners, to work otros para todos los personas cual vida in nuestros paises.

Senor Presidente, gracias.  El honor es mio de esta in este pais.  (It has been my honor to be in this country.  Thank you very much.  We have to all work together to make this happen.)  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT FLORES:  I just wanted to say, just to close this conference, that El Salvador, through myself, wants to express their profound appreciation to the United States of America for having accompanied us in so many difficult times.  And this has to do with the leadership of President Bush.  And Salvadorans want to recognize you at this moment.

And I would like to end by saying this — and this is very personal. I have had some honors in my life, but never had I had such a high honor as President Bush calling me his friend.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

March 22, 2002: Presidents Bush, Fox in Mexico, Joint Statement

President George W. Bush met with Mexican President Vicente Fox in Monterrey, Mexico, on March 22, 2002.

Presidents Bush and Fox made the following remarks at a press conference in the Palacio de Gobierno at 6:57 PM local time.

PRESIDENT FOX: Good afternoon. Thank you very much. Yes, in fact, it has been a very productive meeting, a meeting where we have touched upon three subjects, three chapters. One deals with what we have called the border alliance, more intelligent borders and the “smart border” initiative.

The purpose is, firstly, to introduce the safety factor and hold it as an important priority, and at the same time, with the same emphasis, to seek for efficient borders, customs that are efficient, as well, for an expeditious flow both of people, merchandise, products. And in this sense, what we seek is for those using these crossings, which are hundreds of thousands of people every day, to do so with that efficiency we are talking about.

Likewise, within this same sense, we talked about a program to modernize, technologically speaking, our borders. And this would promote that efficiency.

Among other points within this same category, we have also spoken about opening in airports that have high traffic, both in the United States and Mexico, a line to take care of the Mexicans and Canadians coming into Mexico, and in the case of Mexico, taking care of U.S. citizens and Canadian citizens.

The second topic is what we have called the Partnership for Prosperity, where there are plenty of topics, but the specific purpose is to generate opportunities for advancement, opportunities for income, and mainly, in communities with high migratory rates in Mexico. For this purpose, we have spoken of joining efforts to facilitate resources for micro, small and medium-sized companies who are the ones generating the highest number of jobs.

We have spoken of also working to bring down the cost of migrators’ remittances to their families in Mexico, and this way facilitating those resources becoming productive projects toward important generation of employment and opportunities.

We talked about important program of scholarships where, on the U.S. side, there will be investments up to $50 million, precisely to promote these scholarships and promote to the state level the creation of scholarships for universities. This is important in the purpose of creating, forming human resources.

And, on the other hand, we have also spoken of generating and facilitating resources for infrastructure, especially at the border, infrastructure for an efficient use of water, for water treatment plants, infrastructure for ecological or environmental purposes at the border, and some other investments in infrastructure along the same lines, the border.

On the other hand, I believe it is very significant, and we have talked about it again, to have this great drive that has been announced by President Bush at the Financing for Development Conference. And it’s the purpose to try to increase important resources for countries that are not as developed, for poorer countries.

We have heard from many leaders present, many heads of state, who truly expressed this was welcome information, a welcome announcement. And, of course, same goes for us. We are not a country to receive the help, but we clearly understand that there are countries who require this help to combat poverty very close to us, such as the case of Central America.

So we hope that these additional funds, I repeat, have been very welcome, well-received by the community of smaller countries present here. This time these same resources also, part of them, to be used in these countries of Latin America or Central America.

This effort of what has seemed to be called the participation in the Millennium, the Challenge of the Millennium, is important for us. And we have verified this importance it has for the community of countries.

Thank you. Now Mr. Bush will speak.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for your hospitality and thank you for hosting the important Conference on Reducing Global Poverty. It was a success, thanks to your leadership and your vision.

I’m so glad that the world could see Monterrey, Mexico. It is a really dynamic city. It’s important for the world also to realize that, as a result of President Fox’s vision, this country is reforming. It’s a vibrant place; it’s an exciting place for people to live. People are finding jobs in Mexico.

And, Mr. President, I am grateful to call you friend. Thank you for your leadership, as well.

I try to remind people in my country as many times as I can, a vibrant, prosperous Mexico is in the best interests of the United States of America.

We were at the White House on September the 5th, and here’s what I said then. The United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico. I believed it on September the 5th, I believe it today. And since September the 11th, those words have been tested and proven.

I deeply appreciate President Fox’s early support and his continuing advice. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the people of Mexico for their support and sympathy.

The relationship between the United States and Mexico is very strong, is very important, and it’s growing stronger every day. America respects Mexico’s culture, and Mexico’s achievements. By embracing markets and fiscal discipline, Mexico has created one of the most resilient economies in the region. And through NAFTA, our nations have forged one of the world’s most dynamic trading relationships.

Every day we exchange more than $650 million worth of commerce, creating wealth and opportunity for consumers and workers and families on both sides of the border. President Fox and I are determined to extend the benefits of free markets to all our citizens. As part of our Partnership for Prosperity, we’ll help focus private investment on less developed parts of Mexico, creating more jobs and more opportunities for more people.

President Fox and I are determined to make our shared border modern, efficient, and secure. The Smart Border Declaration our countries have just signed will move us toward this important goal. Our common border must be closed to drugs and terrorists, and open to trade and legitimate travel.

America is grateful for Mexico’s fight against the drug cartels, and I salute your many breakthroughs this year, Mr. President. President Fox and I talked about migration. Last year we established a process to address this issue. We’re making good and steady progress. Migrants make a valuable contribution to America.

It’s also important for our nation to recognize as we discuss immigration, Mexico has got a unique place in this issue. Mexico is different from other countries, not only because of our proximity, but because of our special relationship.

We made some progress this year on an issue called 245(i). It’s an important piece of legislation. It allowed families to stay together. It passed the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, it got stalled in the United States Senate. And my hope, Mr. President, is we’re able to get it out of the United States Senate and to my desk so I can sign it.

President Fox and I agreed on measures to reform the North American Development Bank, known as NAD Bank. We will increase the bank’s ability to make low interest loans to address urgent environmental priorities along the border. We also agreed to expand the bank’s range, so more people can benefit. Mexico and America are proud nations, united by timeless values: by democracy, by faith and by freedom. We have a modern relationship sustained by a mutual respect and trust.

We’ve entered a new era of trade and cooperation and prosperity. And the United States and Mexico are building an historic partnership, one which will benefit both our peoples and provide a good example for the rest of the world.

Q President Bush, have you or General Zinni heard anything from Chairman Arafat that indicates that a meeting between him and Vice President Cheney could help — Israeli- Palestinian troops? And honoring President Fox’s request that we focus on poverty over this summit, could I also ask you to explain why your administration is withholding the $34 million that Congress appropriated to the United Nations Population Fund — this year’s budget.

And, President Fox, do you have any thoughts on — administration’s decision on the United Nations Population Fund?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me start with the later. That violated the one-question rule, but — I said we’re not going to use taxpayers’ money to fund abortion. And we’re going to make sure before we spend taxpayers’ money that we’re not funding abortion.

And as to your first question, as I have said all along, General Zinni will assess the situation in the Middle East. And a meeting could happen if and when Chairman Arafat performs — does what he’s supposed to do. Those conditions have been laid out by Vice President Cheney. And now General Zinni is trying to determine whether or not he is going to do what he said he would do.

PRESIDENT FOX: The second question, what is the question to me?

Q Your reaction to President Bush’s decision to withhold $34 million from the United Nations Population Fund and their family planning work around the world.

PRESIDENT FOX: None. No comment. His decision is totally independent. No comment from my side.

Q My question concerns both Mexico and the United States in a way. President Bush, the Cuban government claims that President Fidel Castro’s early departure from the summit is a result of pressures from your government. And, Mr. President, I want to know if you really would have felt uncomfortable to encounter Fidel Castro here in Monterrey?

And for President Fox, Mr. President, what is the relationship between Mexico and Cuba now after Ricardo Alarcon made the government of Mexico responsible for President Castro’s early departure?

PRESIDENT BUSH: First of all, I know of no pressure placed on anybody. I mean, Fidel Castro can do what he wants to do. And what I’m uncomfortable about is the way he treats his people. There’s only one country that’s not a democracy in our hemisphere, and that’s Cuba. And it makes me uncomfortable to realize that there is still one country that doesn’t have free press, freedom to speak, freedom to realize your dreams. And I feel strongly about that, and I’m going to continue to speak out on the fact that this island is a place of repression, a place where the people don’t have hope.

Q Did you pressure anybody?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I don’t know what you’re talking about, about pressuring anybody. I just said that.

PRESIDENT FOX: There has been no modification in our relationships. We said good-bye to Mr. Fidel Castro. His visit ended. And there is no modification or alteration.

Q Mr. President, President Bush, are you prepared to offer Peru new military assistance to help crack down on terrorism in the wake of the bombing in Lima? And is it time to resume drug surveillance —

PRESIDENT BUSH: On the drug surveillance issue, we have yet — not made up our mind yet. We’re analyzing not only what took place in the past, but the most effective way to help Peru fight narcotics.

The first part of the question? I’m sorry, Steve.

Q Helping Peru with terrorism with new military assistance.

PRESIDENT BUSH: We’re going to analyze all options available to help Peru. But the first place we need to help Peru is to get the Andean Trade Preference Act out of the U.S. Congress. One of the messages I’m taking to not only Peru, but the other Andean nations, is ATPA is important — it’s important to my administration, it’s important to their future, and I’d like to see it renewed as quickly as possible.

Q Thank you. Good afternoon. The Cuban government says that the Mexican government was pressured. The Mexican government said they had no pressure. Who is lying, Mr. President Fox? Who is lying, Mr. President Bush? The Cubans or the Mexicans? Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I thought I just answered that question. (Laughter.) Maybe I missed it — or you did. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT FOX: There is no such thing. Mr. Fidel Castro visited Mexico, visited the conference, the U.N. conference. He was here, he participated in the conference and he returned to Cuba; nothing more.

Q President Bush, good evening. During his recent trip to the Middle East, the Vice President made it very clear that at each stop he told our Arab allies that no military action against Iraq was imminent. Isn’t it also true that this administration is telling our allies, Arab allies and others around the world, that this government is, however, committed — as committed to removing Saddam Hussein from power as the administration was for removing the Taliban?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me put it to you this way, David — what we’re telling our friends is that Saddam Hussein is a man who is willing to gas his own people, willing to use weapons of mass destruction again Iraq citizens. Evidently, there’s a new article in the New York magazine or New Yorker magazine — some East Coast magazine — and it details about his barbaric behavior toward his own people. And not only did he do it to his own people, he did it to people in his neighborhood. And this is a man who refuses to allow us to determine whether or not he still has weapons of mass destruction, which leads me to believe he does.

He is a dangerous man who possesses the world’s most dangerous weapons. And it is incumbent upon freedom-loving nations to hold him accountable, which is precisely what the United States of America will do.

I haven’t had a chance to explain this to our Mexican friends, but a nightmare scenario, of course, would be if a terrorist organization, such as al Qaeda were to link up with a barbaric regime such as Iraq and, thereby, in essence, possess weapons of mass destruction. We cannot allow that to happen.

And so, David, what I’ve told others, including President Fox, is we have no imminent plans to use military operations. We’ll be deliberate; we’ll consult with our friends and allies. But we’ll deal with Saddam Hussein. And he knows that. And this is exactly what I’ve been saying ever since I’ve been the President.

Q Does that mean you will remove him —

PRESIDENT BUSH: As I said, yes, we’d like to see a regime change in Iraq. That’s been the longstanding policy of the U.S. government. Nothing is new there. That’s precisely what has been said since I became President of the United States. But close consultations with our friends from all around the world — and they — I think people have got a pretty good sense of how I view him. And I hope that, of course, he allows inspectors to go into his country, like he promised he would do. Not for he sake of letting inspectors in, but to showing the world that he has no weapons of mass destruction.

Q Good evening, Mr. President, if truly your government has contemplated some date about the migratory agreement with Mexico? And also here at the Forum there was something from former President Carter for amnesty for 3 million Mexican workers in the U.S. Your government would consider legalizing them, or are you saying no?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I think the best way to describe what is possible in the United States is that beyond 245(i), which is the family reunification, is, first of all, understanding the unique nature of the Mexican in our country; that the Mexican national is different by virtue of the fact of the proximity to the United States, and that we do have a special relationship between our countries, not only defined by NAFTA, but defined by cultural ties and historic ties. And so I think that ought to be a part of any discussions.

But here’s my attitude. I think what our country ought to do is help match any willing employer with any willing employee, so that if somebody is looking for somebody who wants to work and somebody wants to work, we can facilitate that arrangement.

And we’ve got a lot of discussions and work to do. But what I’ve assured President Fox and his administration is that we will continue working on this issue. We’ve got technical groups working on it and he and I will continue working on it.

PRESIDENT FOX: Thank you very much. Good evening.

President Bush made the following remarks at a dinner at the Museo de Contemporaneo in Monterrey, Mexico, at 8:00 PM local time.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  Senor Presidente, Martha, Gobernador, distinguished guests, Laura and I thank you for this dinner.  And thank you for inviting us to Monterrey, a city that is home to so much of Mexico’s industry and enterprise, and a city that embodies Mexico’s prosperous future.

Monterrey has hosted a number of U.S. Presidents over the years, mi Papa, President Clinton, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  When Presidents Camacho y Roosevelt met here in April of 1943, they affirmed our two nation’s World War II alliance and agreed to closer economic cooperation.  Today, we meet with a similar purpose.  We affirm our shared struggle against terror, and we work to promote the great alternatives to terror, prosperity and freedom and hope.

President Fox, I deeply appreciate your friendship and counsel, especially since September the 11th.  And the people of the United States are grateful for your visit to Ground Zero in New York to honor the victims.  And the world appreciates Mexico’s support for the international coalition against terrorism.  The terrorists have declared war on civilization itself, and the civilized world will defeat them.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Laura and I used to live right next door to Mexico.  During that time, I saw the steady emergence of a more confident and more hopeful nation.  I saw the strong and growing ties of culture and trade and kinship between our countries.  Mr. President, your election symbolized these changes and has reinforced them.  You’re a true patriot with a compelling vision for a stronger and more prosperous Mexico.

I tell the people of my country that a strong and prosperous Mexico is good for the United States.  We’re working well together, and I am confident our important work is just the beginning.  We will build on the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement, to expand the benefits of trade and markets to all of our people.

We can build on our political cooperation to make real progress on drug trafficking, environmental protection.  And we will build a border that is more open and more secure.  And we will confront the issue of migration in a spirit of mutual respect.

The Mexican proverb tells us, Tenemos mal los momentos, es cuando se conocen al los amigos.  (Applause.)

Senor Presidente, the United States knows who our friends are, and your enduring friendship allows me — causes me to say muchas gracias. Today, we have a relationship of unprecedented closeness and cooperation. By continuing to work together, we can improve the lives of the people in our two nations, in our hemisphere and in our world.

Mr. President, I offer a toast to you, your gracious wife, and the great friendship between our two countries.

(A toast was offered.)

Presidents Bush and Fox released the following joint statement on March 22, 2002.

Our meeting today was a valuable opportunity to celebrate the strength and vitality of the U.S.-Mexican bilateral partnership over the past year, and discuss our priorities for the year ahead.

Our two nations have developed a historic level of trust and mutual respect, strengthened by common values and purposes, that has facilitated an unprecedented degree of bilateral cooperation over the past year. It is a high national priority of both nations to continue building on that cooperation over the coming years and harnessing it for the achievement of the important goals of economic and social development, security, and rule of law that are essential to both countries’ wellbeing.

In this context, we agreed that the international campaign to eradicate terrorism requires us to address pressing new priorities and shared goals central to defending our societies and ways of life. At the same time, we recognized that the events of September 11 underscore more than ever the importance of the U.S.-Mexican relationship, as partners and neighbors, in the attainment of those goals and in realizing the vision we have set forth for our countries’ future. Hence, we reviewed what we are doing together to create a “smart border” for the 21st century. We will build a border that protects our societies against those who would do us harm, and that truly serves the human and economic needs of our dynamic relationship. We share a vision of a modern border that speeds the legitimate flow of people and commerce, and filters out all that threatens our safety and prosperity.

The “smart border” declaration and action plan we have just adopted sets out a series of specific steps we will take to move concretely toward that vision. The twenty-point action plan comprises measures that will enhance the secure flow of goods and people, and build a modern and efficient infrastructure that keeps pace with commerce. We intend to monitor this process closely to ensure the fastest possible implementation of these and other steps on which we may agree. Both governments will work expeditiously to prioritize infrastructure investment needs and cooperate to identify funding sources.

Slightly more than one year ago, in Guanajuato, we talked about migration as one of the major ties that join our societies. We launched then the frankest and most productive dialogue our countries have ever had on this important and challenging subject. Those talks have continued over the past year, and have yielded a clearer assessment of the scope and nature of this issue. This bond between our nations can render countless benefits to our respective economies and families. Over the past year, important progress has been made to enhance migrant safety and particularly in saving lives by discouraging and reducing illegal crossings in dangerous terrain.

On September 7, 2001, during President Fox’s historic State Visit to Washington, we issued a joint statement instructing our cabinet-level working group to provide us with specific proposals to forge a new and realistic framework that will ensure a safe, legal, orderly, and dignified migration flow between our countries. We have today agreed that our Cabinet level migration group should continue the work we charged it with in Guanajuato and Washington.

When we first met as Presidents, we described our shared vision to help unfetter the economic potential of every citizen, so each may contribute fully to narrowing the economic gaps between and within our societies. To help implement that vision, we launched the “Partnership for Prosperity.” The Partnership seeks to leverage private resources to create jobs and promote prosperity in less developed areas of Mexico. Today, we welcomed the Partnership’s action plan of concrete and innovative initiatives on housing, agriculture, infrastructure, remittances, communications, development financing and information technologies. Some examples include:

  • Lowering the cost to Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the United States of sending money home so that their families get to keep more of their hard-earned wages;
  • Increasing the accessibility of capital to Mexican entrepreneurs so that they can grow their businesses and create more and better jobs.
  • Increasing investment in housing, and the creation of a secondary mortgage market, so more Mexicans can become homeowners.

Our aim is to foster economic development so that no Mexican feels compelled to leave his or her home for a lack of a job or opportunity. While achieving the Partnership’s goals will require time and persistent effort, the initial steps detailed in this report will build a strong foundation for long-term success. We will closely follow implementation of these promising steps. We are confident that the high level officials we have tasked with turning our vision into reality will produce results that will make us both proud and benefit both our countries.

We commend the ongoing success of the Training, Internship, Education and Scholarship program (TIES), designed to support the Partnership for Prosperity by enhancing conditions for sustained development in Mexico. Over the next five years this $50 million initiative is expected to implement 35 partnerships between Mexican and U.S. higher education institutions and to provide hundreds of scholarships for undergraduate exchanges and graduate studies in the United States.

When we met in Washington in September we talked about the importance of addressing urgent environmental priorities on the border. After a series of discussions with border states, the local communities, and other stakeholders, our binational working group has finalized a series of specific recommendations to strengthen the performance of the North American Development Bank (NADBank), and its sister institution the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC).

As these institutions continue to work on urgent environmental infrastructure priorities in the border areas, both governments will work with their legislatures to make the recommendations a reality. The recommendations include measures to make financing more affordable, expand the geographic scope on the Mexican side of the border in which projects can be financed, replacing the two institutions’ separate boards of directors with a single board to oversee their work, and facilitate efforts to work with and co-finance environmental projects with the private sector.

Cooperation against organized crime remains a cornerstone of the bilateral agenda. We acknowledged major successes achieved by Mexico in the fight against narco-trafficking. We agreed on the importance of redoubling judicial cooperation aimed at bolstering the rule of law in both countries and strengthening our ability to ensure the safety of our citizens.

We also reviewed regional political issues of interest to both countries, including sharing assessments of the situations in Argentina, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela.

We have consulted frequently, as friends and neighbors, over the past six months as we have sought to advance a vision of growing partnership aimed at increasing prosperity, greater economic convergence between our two economies, raising living standards, and ensuring the security of both societies. Our commitment to this fundamental agenda, and to the importance of our partnership, is stronger than ever. We will continue our close and productive dialogue in the months and years ahead as we take full advantage of the great opportunities before our two nations.

March 23, 2002: Presidents Bush and Toledo in Peru

Presidents George W. Bush and Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo delivered the following remarks at a joint press availability at 6:00 PM EST in the Presidential Palace in Lima, Peru, on March 23, 2002.

PRESIDENT TOLEDO: This is an historic visit made by a friend representing a country with which we have had an historical relationship. It is not merely a diplomatic visit, it is an official working visit and we have touched on substantive issues, which range from the open struggle against poverty, a war without quarter against terrorism and drug trafficking. I repeat, a war with no ambiguities whatsoever, against terrorism and drug trafficking.

We’ve touched on issues of trade, education, even the Peace Corps. But, my friend, George Bush, this Peru is a country that welcomes you with open arms. We are renewing our friendship and this is the beginning of a new era in the relationship between Peru and the United States. And I’m extremely happy that the two of us are able to begin this relationship.

President George W. Bush and Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo (right) wave from the steps of the Presidential Palace in Lima, Peru, March 23, 2002. "It is an honor for me to be the first sitting President of the United States to visit Peru," said President Bush during the two leaders' joint press conference where he explained that steps such as reintroducing the Peace Corps to Peru are being taken to strengthen the relationship between America and Peru.

I know you seem younger than I am, but we are both 55 years old. And we have a long way ahead of us to work together. I know that we both have the energy and the stubbornness, particularly with regard to the issue of terrorism and drug trafficking, because your country, just like mine, loves peace. It appreciates life. And we are united on this. And as of today, we have a strategic alliance of hope for the future.

My friend, welcome to my country.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Gracias, Senor Presidente. It is an honor for me to be the first sitting President of the United States to visit Peru. I want to thank you for the invitation. It’s a greater honor for Laura and me to come here as guests of a leader who symbolizes Peru’s revitalization.

President Toledo and I have now met three times. At each meeting I’ve been impressed by his commitment to democracy and his determination to improve the lives of the people of Peru. Peru is on the path toward greater freedom and greater prosperity, and America will be the partner in this progress, Mr. President.

Earlier today, our two governments signed an agreement that will reintroduce the Peace Corps to Peru, after an absence of nearly 30 years. The first volunteers will arrive in August, a symbol of the stronger ties between our people and the stronger relationship between our nations.

This relationship is based on common values and common interests. Our nations understand that political and economic progress depends on security — and that security is impossible in a world with terrorists. Peruvians have been reminded again this week of the terrible human toll of terror. On behalf of the people of the United States, I express our deep sympathy for the victims of the recent bombing and our deep sympathy for their loved ones.

President Toledo and I share a common perspective on terrorism: We must stop it. Since September the 11th, Peru has taken the lead in rallying our hemisphere to take strong action against this common threat. And I want to thank the President for his leadership and his strong support.

Our nations understand that freedom is only as strong as the institutions protecting it. The United States is actively supporting the President’s efforts to strengthen Peru’s democratic foundations. And we will continue to support the work of Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is helping correct the abuses of the past and set the course for a better future.

President Toledo and I both understand the importance of providing economic opportunity to all our citizens as a hopeful alternative to the drug trade. We discussed ways to make the assistance that the United States provides under the Andean Regional Initiative more effective. And I emphasized to the President my commitment to renew and extend the Andean Trade Preferences Act. The United States House of Representatives has moved this legislation. It is stuck in the Senate, and I urge the Senate to act.

President Toledo and I have agreed to renew discussions on a bilateral investment treaty, and to complete a debt-for-nature agreement, to help Peru reduce debt payments while it protects its biodiversity.

I also informed the President that Secretary of Commerce Don Evans will lead a trade mission to Peru and the Andean region later this year. By building these ties of commerce, both our nations create more jobs, more investment, and more benefits for workers and consumers.

President Toledo and I believe that education is the key to participation in the global economy. The President’s own path in life is a lesson in how education opens up doors to opportunity. He is passionate on the subject. I love his passion, and I appreciate his commitment.

And I’m pleased to announce that our country will help establish an Andean Center of Excellence for Teacher Training, with a base here in Peru. The center will support President Toledo’s goal of quality schools with quality teachers, that give more Peruvians the literacy and learning they need to succeed.

I’ve also directed the U.S. Commerce Department, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, to establish an Andean e-business fellowship program, to give more high-tech professionals from this region the chance to learn more about information technology.

President Toledo and I have a strong relationship. I’m inspired by his life, I’m inspired by his story, I’m inspired by his leadership. I’m impressed by Peru’s progress and I’m very confident of Peru’s future.

Thank you, sir. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President —

PRESIDENT BUSH: Which one? (Laughter.)

Q You, sir. Given increasing evidence that the FARC is now operating in Peru, will you be willing to provide President Toledo extra assistance in fighting the war against terrorism here, should he ask for it? And are you concerned that what was once a regional problem in Colombia or something restricted to Colombia is now spreading across Colombia’s border and threatening its neighbors?

PRESIDENT BUSH: We discussed the neighborhood at length today. President Toledo told me that he is — now that he’s done a very good job, or the country’s done a good job, of making sure that relations with neighbors, north and south, are peaceful, that he is moving troops and making decisions to prevent terrorists from coming into his country from Colombia. And we will help him in this effort. That’s part of the reason why I’m here — is to support our mutual desire to fight terror and to help this good democracy thrive.

Later on today we’ll be talking with Presidents from — and one Vice President, from the Andean nations. And we’ll be discussing our common desire to prevent terrorist groups like the FARC from holding people and nations hostage. And I’m absolutely convinced, having talked to the President three times, that he will do everything in his power to rout out terror, not let it take hold, and preserve the institutions that make Peru a beacon for democracy.

Q — (inaudible.)

PRESIDENT TOLEDO: No, the evidence that we have is — I repeat, the evidence that we have indicates that there is no transfer of the FARC into Peru. However, we are adopting every measure possible. The Minister of Defense was at the border very recently. We took our bases that were along the border with Ecuador — where, after signing the peace agreement, there is no need for their presence — we removed them as a precautionary measure over to the border with Colombia.

As President Bush just indicated, this is a joint task. What happens to Colombia affects us, and vice versa. But here, too, we’re partners. And I think that the issues that have to do with the Andean community are issues on which President Bush is extremely interested and I’m sure that we will be working together on these. We are going to work together on this; I’m sure of that.

Q President Bush, you granted an audience recently to my daily, El Comercio, at the White House, and you said in that interview that Peru, for the United States, is not only a friend, but an ally. I’d like to ask you, beyond trade preferences and the commitment to struggle against drug trafficking, what will be the major elements in your administration that would highlight this different relationship you want to have with Peru? For example, would you open up an antechamber, so to speak, for Peru to come into a free trade agreement negotiation with the United States?

And let me ask President Toledo, with regard to the issue of shared responsibility in the fight against drug trafficking, would you take on the commitment before President Bush to establish a control office that would monitor whatever the United States does not comply with?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I listed quite a few things in my opening remarks about our relationship. I believe strongly that if we promote trade, and when we promote trade, it will help workers on both sides of this issue — it will help Peruvian workers, help U.S. workers.

The Andean Trade Preference Act is a cornerstone of good policy, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s a cornerstone of good relations. We talked about a treaty on investment; that could be the beginning of a trade treaty. The President brought it up. He asked whether or not we would consider it. I said we’ll take it back and discuss the issue when I get back to Washington, D.C.

There’s nothing more important than fostering good economic relations. I mean, the best way for people to get lifted out of poverty is a job. And the best way to encourage jobs is through trade.

I mean, what we’re beginning to realize in the world is development aid is important, but development aid pales in comparison to the amount of capital that’s generated through trade in the marketplace, in the private sector. And countries that open markets and countries that trade freely are countries where the people are more likely to be able to succeed. And I would not discount the importance of our relationship when it comes to fighting terror.

The world has called us to action. This is a new era. We’re fighting a new kind of war. And we’re strong allies in that war. And when we win, our peoples will be better off. You can’t alleviate poverty if there’s terror in your neighborhood. It’s impossible to achieve what we want if terrorists run free.

And so I think one of the best things we can do to lay the foundation for a better tomorrow is to be tough and firm and not yield to threat. And that’s exactly the way the President feels, and I can assure you that’s the way I feel.

PRESIDENT TOLEDO: I think that in the war against drug trafficking and terrorism, we are partners, not simply through conviction, my good friend, but because we, ourselves, have experienced it. We have experienced the effects of terrorism here for 20 years. The United States, on September 11th. And I have here my friend, Colin Powell, with whom we have a very solid human relationship because, in this very palace, we were witnesses to the news of September 11th, while we were having breakfast.

On this issue we are partners. I am stubborn. I am stubborn and I believe it is not incompatible to respect the law and to be strong-handed with regard to the issue of terrorism and drug trafficking.

I do know there’s been a decision from the U.S. government to increase support for the struggle against drug trafficking, and I appreciate that enormously. We still have a long road ahead to walk together in this struggle, but we will do it.

And, Mr. Journalist, I want to underscore something that was referred to by President Bush. Trade preferences is an issue on which President Bush has demonstrated — and I am a witness — his will for congressional approval in the United States. The separation of powers makes it impossible for Presidents to control congresses — just like I don’t control mine. But that’s the way democracy works.

Nonetheless, we have gone beyond Andean Trade Preferences. I have asked of President Bush that he consider an initiative for trade, for bilateral trade and investment within the framework of the Andean community. And we are going to be talking to our colleagues in just a few minutes.

I think it’s important because trade is a synonym for work. And work is a way to deal with poverty. Through work, education and health, we can eradicate poverty. We are partners on the issue of trade, on the issue of drug trafficking and terrorism, in the defense of democracy and of human rights, my friend — human rights.

Q Mr. President, the Peruvians have expressed an urgent desire for the resumption of U.S. drug interdiction flights in Peruvian airspace. You told us yesterday in Monterrey that the issue was under rigorous review. My question to you, sir, is it your ultimate goal to see a resumption of those flights? And what preconditions would you put on those flights before authorizing resumption?

And for President Toledo, if I could, sir, if you are to expect a maximum effort at a partnership with the United States to eradicate drug trafficking, why won’t you make the same commitment to coca eradication as your neighbors, Bolivia, have? You’ve talked a lot about the problem being drug trafficking, but you have not made the same commitment on coca production, sir.

PRESIDENT BUSH: John, we are reviewing all avenues toward an effective policy of interdiction. As you know, we had a terrible situation where a young mom and her daughter lost their life; that caused us to step back to take a look at our policy at home, and then to work with the Peruvian government to figure out how best to be effective at interdicting drugs.

And so the discussions are ongoing. And we want to make sure that when we work with countries like Peru, that we achieve the common objective, which is to make it hard for those narco-traffickers to move through their airspace, across their land, or in oceans.

I want to say something about — there’s a lot of talk about interdiction, and there should be. And there’s a lot of talk about battling the narco-traffickers here in the Andean area, and we will. But our country has an obligation, as well, not only to provide support and help. The President mentioned that we have expanded the direct aid to Peru on this issue, which we have. We’ve tripled it, up to about $200 million — about $195 million, I think it is. But the best thing that America needs to do is reduce demand for drugs. We’ve got to do a better job of convincing our own country to quit using them. As demand for drugs goes down, it will take the pressure off of our friends in Peru.

So we’ve got a double obligation, it seems like to me — on the one hand, to provide help and aid that’s effective and will work. And that’s exactly what we spent a long time talking about, in all three of our meetings. But I want to remind our Peruvian friends that we’ve got to do a better job at home of convincing Americans to stop using drugs. And part of our drug initiative will be to focus on the demand side. Less demand for drugs will mean that the supply for drugs will be less urgent. And that will in turn help the region.

PRESIDENT TOLEDO: Look, my friend, let me deal with your question head on. In 1990, the number of hectares with coca cultivation was approximately 140,000 total. Today, we are down to 34,000 hectares where we have coca cultivation. Enormous progress has been made.

I know it’s not enough. We have a long path ahead of us yet. And we have to do this together. I know that the drug traffickers have become more sophisticated over time — they have more high-tech capabilities. And now we, too, have to push forward in that direction.

I want to be very open, and I apologize to my friend, President Bush, now. We are not fighting against drug trafficking in order to satisfy the United States or Europe. Drug trafficking, in partnership with terrorism, is an issue of national security. It’s an issue of national security. On Wednesday, they killed nine people — nine of our brothers and sisters — and there are 30 people wounded. I have publicly stated — and I want to repeat this — we are not going to let this stand.

So let me respond to you. We have met a substantial reduction. We still have 34,000 hectares to go. But we are going to do this together.

Final point. I think President Bush is extremely sincere — he’s extremely sincere and honest when he recognizes that as long as there is a demand out there, there will be a supply. As long as there are consumers, there will be producers. And so, together, we need to work on reducing the number of consumers, cure them better, make them better. And we need to reduce the amount of hectares under cultivation.

And, footnote here, it’s also true that the statistics indicate that although levels are still low, there is an increase in the consumption of cocaine among youth in Peru. And that is also part of our concern with regard to national security.

Q President Bush, you are in a region now that’s been devastated by terrorism and subversion and drug trafficking for over three decades. You’re offering us the Peace Corps. I would ask you if you’re willing, as President of the most powerful nation on Earth, to lead a Marshall Plan for South America?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I appreciate that. I think I said more than just the Peace Corps, if I’m not mistaken, in my opening comments. Obviously, our nation is committed to this part of the world. I’ve come to Peru as the first sitting President to express our solidarity with Peru and the people, as well as express my appreciation for a reformer who got elected who’s willing to defend the institutions that make democracy go.

I’ll repeat if you’d like me to, go through the litany of things I just said — the Andean Trade Preference Act, the bilateral action on investment, money for education, money to fight drugs. We’ve tripled the amount of money — I believe it’s from $50 million up to $195 million available. And so I think our commitment is — I think our commitment speaks for itself. And I appreciate so very much the chance to come and explain it to the Peruvian people that ours is more than just words — ours is deeds and action.

Q Good afternoon, President Bush. Buenos tardes, Senor Presidente. President Bush, many lawmakers in Congress are growing increasingly concerned about your policy in the Middle East, wondering if the very talk of potential high-level negotiations involving Vice President Cheney, specifically, with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, might not, in fact, send a signal that terrorism against Israeli civilians can achieve some limited political aims. I’d to ask you, sir, why you’re contemplating that, and why those who wonder if that is not the case are incorrect?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, first of all, I think there’s been no question that the United States has stood strong with Israel. And we’ve made it very clear to Mr. Arafat that he is not — he’s not doing all he can do to fight off terror. I can’t be any more clear than that. Vice President Cheney said, depending upon on the Zinni mission and General Zinni’s recommendation, he might go back, if and when Arafat performs.

Surely those in the Congress you talk about appreciate the fact that the administration is engaged, and sent General Zinni into the region. We laid out the Tenet plan, which is the way to bring some security to the region — which would then lead to the Mitchell plan. And we’re doing everything in our power to get the parties into Tenet. And we’ll continue working hard to get them to Tenet.

Q Even if the violence continues —

PRESIDENT BUSH: If and when — if and when Mr. Arafat — if and when —

Q — (inaudible) —

PRESIDENT BUSH: Excuse me. If and when Chairman Arafat performs. That’s what we have said. General Zinni went to the Middle East; he’s leading discussions. But people shouldn’t mistake our desire to get into Tenet as anything more than a desire to get to peace. And we’ll continue working to do so.

And Prime Minister Sharon knows where the United States stands. We’re strong allies with Israel. We have been ever since I’ve been the President, and we’ll continue to be strong allies with Israel.

Q Good afternoon to both Presidents. President Bush, just a few days ago I was able to ask you in Washington about leadership in the fight against poverty. And on this, aside from the issue of being 55 and the fact that you’re wearing the same color ties, you are in agreement with President Alejandro Toledo, who also insists on fighting against poverty. But the fight against poverty presupposes — and this has been stated by Dr. Toledo — thinking of reducing arms in Latin America, because for every tank or F-16, we could buy a lot more schools. Mr. President, I’d like to know your views on this, and the views of President Toledo with regard to this issue. The possibility of arms control in the South American part of the hemisphere. And the same question for President Toledo.

PRESIDENT BUSH: We may be the same age, but el tiene pelo negro. (Laughter.) Yo tengo pelo gris. (Laughter.)

I appreciate President Toledo’s work to have a security arrangement in place in the neighborhood amongst the countries bordering Peru that will then allow him to reinvest in education. We talked about that. And I think that is a strong commitment and a wise commitment.

As far as my country’s commitment goes, I gave a speech in Monterrey, Mexico, two days ago where I committed our country to a 50-percent increase in development aid. But I said it’s time for the world to stop looking at inputs and to focus on outputs, and that the United States, developed nations, must do more financially. And we’re leading the way.

But we expect other nations to develop the habits that will lead to a better opportunity for their people: rule of law, a focus on education, and good health care. President Toledo understands that, he’s been a leader in that effort. And I think what I said in Monterrey was very important, that unless we all focus on how programs benefit people directly, not matter what the efforts or strategy is, it’s likely to lead to failure. But programs and policies that understand the worth of each human being, that each individual matters, are those programs which will be successful. And so our country will try to foster that. And this President has made that commitment, for which I am grateful.

PRESIDENT TOLEDO: Aside from the fact that President Bush has very good taste with regard to color in ties — (laughter) — he’s also taller than I am. (Laughter.)

On this issue, Raul, of military expenditure, we discussed it with him. And here I want to strike a difference between military expenses for armed conflicts between countries, and military expenditures for defense against terrorism and drug trafficking, because these are two separate issues.

I think that there is a major challenge in the world in order to survive in this globalized and savagely competitive world we live in. We need to invest more in the minds of our people. Basically, what this means is investing more in nutrition, health, education, and justice for the poor.

We won’t be able to deal with the challenges of this globalized world unless we invest in the knowledge of our societies. The question immediately arises, and obviously so, in an economy that is growing that is overcoming recession, where you get the money to invest in nutrition, health and education? Well, we’ve made an appeal to countries at the bilateral level. And there the United States has played a very generous role at the donors table in Madrid. And I want to publicly express my appreciation, Mr. President.

There has been debt conversion, external bilateral debt swap, for social investment. And there we have been able to get a commitment of about $1 billion. This is one way to establish a financial space to invest in health, nutrition and education.

The other thing is that I believe it makes no sense in this world that as long as we have a country with 54 percent of Peruvians who live below the poverty line, or 16 percent who live below the dire poverty line — when I was born, the very first minute of my life when I opened my eyes, I saw the face of dire poverty. I know what this means. That’s why I am convinced that we can make an effort to reduce military spending, to reorient those resources towards investment and justice and education and health. Because the defense of a country no longer depends on how many tanks, or ships, or aircraft we have. It’s all about how strong our economy is, how educated our people are.

And please excuse me for being so passionate on this subject, but there is absolutely no doubt on this. And the empirical evidence is very harsh with regard to the return on investment on education and health and nutrition for our people.

And here, once again, we have another point of coincidence that leads us down the same path together. I conveyed something that’s very close to my heart with regard to the Huascaran education program, and I asked our friend to support us on this. And I will be going to New York, and I’m going to talk to Mr. Bill Gates, to try to promote the Huascaran project even more. But if we reduce military spending, we’re going to have some financial leeway to reorient this money towards the poor, who want to overcome poverty — who want freedom. And we’ll be able to deal with the challenges of the future even better.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.

January 16-17, 2002: Title III of Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act

President George W. Bush sent the following letter on Title III of Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, House Committee on International Relations, and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on January 16, 2002.

January 16, 2002

Dear Mr. Chairman: (Dear Representative:) (Dear Senator:)

Pursuant to section 306(c)(2) of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-114), (the “Act”), I hereby determine and report to the Congress that suspension for 6 months beyond February 1, 2002, of the right to bring an action under title III of the Act is necessary to the national interests of the United States and will expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba.

Sincerely,

GEORGE W. BUSH

The White House published the following fact sheet on Title III of Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act on January 17, 2002.

Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (libertad) Allows U.S. Nationals That Own Claims to Confiscated Property in Cuba to file suit in U.S. courts against those who traffic in such property.

  • The title includes waiver authority, if the President determines that a suspension of this provision is necessary to the national interests of the United States and will expedite a transition to democracy in Cuba. The waiver must be renewed every six months for the suspension to remain effective.
  • Using this authority, the President has suspended application of Title III for an additional six months, effective February 1, 2002. He has reported his determination to the appropriate congressional committees.

Basic Policy Commitments

  • The President remains firmly and fully committed to encouraging a rapid, peaceful transition to a democratic government characterized by strong support for human rights and an open market economy.
  • The President likewise remains committed to the use of the embargo and travel restrictions to encourage a rapid transition. As he indicated last July, the administration will oppose any effort to loosen sanctions against the Cuban regime until it frees political prisoners, holds democratic, free elections and allows for free speech.
  • The Cuban regime is a repressive, totalitarian anachronism in a region where democracy and open markets prevail. Its leaders continue to carry out misguided and failed policies which have deeply damaged the Cuban people and left its economy in ruins.
  • The Cuban government also properly remains on the Terrorist List, due to its continued support for terrorism, including the fact that it continues to harbor fugitives from justice in the United States wanted for terrorism-related offenses.

Increasing Outreach to the Cuban People

  • The President is determined to encourage and deepen our outreach to the Cuban people, especially those brave and independent activists for democracy and human rights.
  • In order to move toward this goal, the U.S. Government has increased the resources available to support civil society development and information exchange in Cuba. Despite obstacles created by the Cuban regime, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana has expanded its outreach to the Cuban people in innovative ways.
  • A big part of this effort is a major increase in public diplomacy on-island, so that more Cubans have more accurate and broader information about the world around them. Independent journalists, libraries, and Non-governmental organizations are the beneficiaries of these efforts.
  • The President has also committed to increasing the listenership of Radio Marti and the viewership of TV Marti in Cuba. Radio Marti in particular has an increasingly popular product and appears to be making real gains in terms of its audience.
  • We will be exploring new ways, including the use of cutting-edge technology, to increase the Cuban people’s access to Radio and TV Marti.

Policy Review

  • The recent appointment of Otto Reich as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs completes the President’s foreign policy team. With it, a full review of the tools we are using to achieve our policy goal in Cuba is now appropriate.

January 16, 2002: CAFTA Fact Sheet

The White House published the following fact sheet related to the United States-Central America Free Trade Agreement on January 16, 2002.

Today I announce that the United States will explore a free trade agreement with the countries of Central America. My Administration will work closely with Congress towards this goal. Our purpose is to strengthen the economic ties we already have with these nations ‘to reinforce their progress toward economic, political, and social reform … and to take another step toward completing the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

President George W. Bush,
January 16, 2002

Today’s Presidential Action

President Bush announced an important next step in effort to expand trade and create jobs. The Bush Administration is prepared to explore the possibility of negotiating a U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement with Central American leaders.

This exploration will entail close consultations with the U.S. Congress, as well as with leaders in the Central American region.

Background on U.S. – Central America Free Trade Agreement

  • The United States is committed to proceeding with trade initiatives globally, regionally and with individual nations.

These free trade arrangements will strengthen our economy at home — benefiting American farmers, businesses, workers, and consumers. At the same time, these agreements will promote economic development and democratic governance among our trading partners.

  • By moving on multiple fronts simultaneously, this strategy will enhance America’s world leadership on trade by strengthening our economic ties, promoting fresh approaches to international economic problems, and leveraging American influence to improve the quality of life at home and abroad.
  • The Administration has already made key progress toward expanding trade with Central America. During 2001, the Bush Administration discussed with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua their interest in a free trade agreement with the United States.

These countries met in Managua in September 2001 to explore ways to forge closer economic relations and advance free trade. On the basis of the interchanges, the five Central American countries have expressed interest in pursuing a free trade agreement with the United States as a group, and have indicated their readiness for negotiations.

A U.S. – Central America Free Trade Agreement would:

  • Promote U.S. Exports: The United States exported $8.8 billion to Central America in 2000 — more than we sold to Russia, Indonesia, and India combined. Mexico and Canada — our NAFTA partners — have already recognized the potential of the Central American market and the need to support Central American reforms by pursuing their own free trade agreements with countries in the region. Chile has done the same.

The U.S. should not be left behind in North America’s economic engagement with Central America. A U.S.-Central America free trade agreement would ensure that American workers and companies are not disadvantaged, build on the $4 billion of U.S. investment in the region, and avoid erosion of U.S. competitiveness.

U.S. duties for the region are already low, as these countries are beneficiaries of the Caribbean Basin Initiative. U.S. imports from Central America totaled $11.8 billion in 2000.

  • Support Democracy and Economic Reform: During the past decade, Central American countries have established democratic systems of government and begun implementing economic reforms to promote privatization, competition, and open markets.

The United States has supported the development of democracy, enhanced economic growth, and security for human rights through the Caribbean Basin Initiative, including the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act.

The proposed free trade agreement with the United States would commit these countries to even greater openness and transparency, which would deepen the roots of democracy, civil society, and the rule of law in the region, as well as reinforce market reforms.

These reforms, coupled with the increased trade and investment flows, would promote expanded growth and openness in the region, as well as support common efforts to achieve stronger environmental protection and improved working conditions.

Furthermore, trade negotiations would lead to close cooperation among the Central Americans, thereby advancing Central America’s integration and contributing to greater peace, economic cooperation, and stability in the region.

A free trade agreement would be reciprocal, and without a limited term, unlike current statutory trade preference laws, assuring all partners of a long-term outlook that will strengthen North American cooperation with Central America.

  • Advance FTAA: This negotiation will complement the United States’ goal of completing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) no later than January 2005 by increasing the momentum in the hemisphere toward lowering barriers, opening markets, and achieving greater transparency. The United States already has a free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, and the Administration expects to complete our negotiation for a free trade agreement with Chile this year.

Furthermore, by working together on common disciplines and trade objectives through bilateral negotiations, the United States will enhance the ability of all parties to forge consensus in other multilateral trade negotiations, especially the FTAA.

November 2, 2001: Letter to Members of Congress Related to Drug-Producing, Drug-Transit Countries

President George W. Bush sent the following letter to members of Congress related to major drug-producing and major drug-transit countries, including many Latin American and Caribbean nations, on November 1, 2001.

Text of a Letter from the President to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, the House Committee on International Relations, and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
November 1, 2001

Dear Mr. Chairman:       (Dear Representative:)       (Dear Senator:)

In accordance with section 490(h) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (FAA), I have determined that the following countries are major illicit drug-producing or major drug-transit countries: Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

I note that a country’s presence on the list of major drug-transit countries is not an adverse reflection on its government’s counternarcotics efforts or on the level of its cooperation with the United States. Consistent with the statutory definition of a major drug-transit country set forth in section 481(e)(5) of the FAA, among the reasons that major drug-transit countries are placed on the list is the combination of geographical, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit despite the most assiduous enforcement measures of the government concerned.

In recent years, we have seen rapidly rising quantities of illegal synthetic drugs entering the United States, especially MDMA (Ecstasy) from Europe. MDMA abuse is an emerging problem that we are studying closely. Because much of the Ecstasy consumed in Europe and the United States is manufactured clandestinely in the Netherlands, we are working closely with Dutch authorities to stop the production and export of the drug. I commend the Government of the Netherlands for its excellent cooperation with the Government of the United States.

CHANGES TO THE LIST

I have removed Cambodia from the Majors List. Cambodia was added to the Majors List in 1996 as a transit country for heroin destined for the United States. In recent years, there has been no evidence of any heroin transiting Cambodia coming to the United States. On the basis of this cumulative evidence, I have determined that Cambodia no longer meets the standard for a major drug-transit country and I have removed Cambodia from the Majors List. I will, however, keep it under observation as a country of concern.

COUNTRIES/ECONOMIES AND REGIONS OF CONCERN

I am also noting in this letter various “countries/economies and regions of concern.” These are countries or areas that are not “majors,” but which in the past met, or could in the future meet, the statutory definition. This informational category carries no stigma, penalty, or sanction. This information is provided to keep the Congress informed of those additional countries and regions on which the executive branch is focusing its antidrug cooperation efforts.

The Majors List applies by its terms to “countries.” The United States Government interprets the term broadly to include certain entities that exercise autonomy over actions or omissions that would lead to a decision to place them on the list and subsequently to determine eligibility for certification.

Belize. Belize was removed from the list of major drug-transit countries in 1999 because there was clear evidence that the drug trade was not currently using it as a transit point for drugs moving to the United States. If, at a future date, there is reliable information that U.S.-bound drugs are again moving through Belize in significant quantities, I will again place it on the Majors List.

Central America. Central America’s position as a land bridge between South America and Mexico, together with its thousands of miles of coastline, several container-handling ports, the Pan-American Highway, and limited law enforcement capability, makes the entire region a natural conduit and transshipment area for illicit drugs bound for Mexico and the United States. Currently, only Guatemala and Panama have been designated major drug-transit countries, since there is clear evidence that drug trafficking organizations use their territory to move significant quantities of illegal drugs to the United States. The same is not yet true of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, or Nicaragua.

Although there is no question that fluctuating quantities of drugs do flow through these countries en route to the United States, the bulk of the drug traffic has shifted away from land routes. Stringent law enforcement and interdiction measures on land have forced trafficking organizations to move drugs along sea routes. In the event that I receive evidence that drugs transiting these countries are having a significant effect on the United States, I will add them to the Majors List.

Central Asia. United States Government agencies have again conducted probes in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the traditional opium poppy growing areas of the former Soviet Union. These probes did not show significant opium poppy cultivation. If ongoing analysis reveals cultivation of 1,000 hectares or more of poppy, I will add the relevant countries to the Majors List.

Cuba. Cuba’s geographical position, straddling one of the principal Caribbean trafficking routes to the United States, continues to make it a logical candidate for consideration for the Majors List. While in the past there have been some anecdotal reports that trafficking syndicates use Cuban land territory for moving drugs, we have not confirmed that this traffic carries significant quantities of cocaine or heroin to the United States. For the last several years, much of the suspect air traffic that previously crossed Cuban airspace has shifted to Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). I will continue to keep Cuba under careful observation for any changes in current transit patterns. If there is evidence of significant quantities of drugs transiting Cuba to the United States, I will add Cuba to the Majors List.

Eastern Caribbean. The Leeward and Windward Islands, together with Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, constitute a broad geographical area through which U.S.-bound drugs pass en route from Latin America. There is no evidence at this time, however, that any of these Eastern Caribbean nations is a major drug-transit country under the definition in section 481(e)(5) of the FAA. The information available indicates that drugs moving through the area are overwhelmingly destined for Europe. I am, therefore, keeping the region under observation and will add relevant countries to the Majors List, should conditions warrant.

Hong Kong. Hong Kong was removed from the Majors List in 2000 and listed as a country of concern. Since 1996, there have been no significant seizures in the United States of heroin linked with Hong Kong. Similarly, the Hong Kong authorities report that in the past 4 years they have made no large seizures locally of heroin destined for the United States. If in the future we detect any drug flows through Hong Kong that significantly affect the United States, I will again place Hong Kong on the Majors List.

Iran. While Iran was once a traditional opium-producing country, the Government of Iran appears to have been successful in eradi-cating significant illicit opium poppy cultivation. The latest United States Government survey of the country revealed no detectable poppy cultivation in the traditional growing areas. Although one cannot rule out some cultivation in remote parts of the country, it is unlikely that it would be sufficient to meet the threshold definition of a major illicit drug-producing country under section 481(e)(2) of the FAA.

Important quantities of opiates reportedly continue to transit Iran en route to Europe, but I have no evidence that these drugs significantly affect the United States, a require-ment for designation as a major drug-transit country under section 481(e)(5) of the FAA. Moreover, Iran has taken extensive measures to thwart the use of its territory by drug traffickers, seizing well above 200 metric tons of drugs annually in recent years.

Malaysia. Malaysia was removed from the Majors List in 1998 because there was no evidence that drugs transiting the country were reaching the United States in significant quantities. That situation did not change in 2001.

North Korea. United States Government observations this year have been unable to confirm reports that significant quantities of opium poppy may be under cultivation in North Korea or that heroin originating in the country may be entering the international drug trade. I continue, however, to monitor the situation. If there is evidence that there is indeed significant poppy cultivation or that North Korea is a transit point for drugs significantly affecting the United States, I will add it to the Majors List.

Syria and Lebanon. Syria and Lebanon were removed from the list of major drug producers 4 years ago after the United States Government determined that there was no significant opium poppy cultivation in Lebanon’s Biqa’ Valley. Recent surveys have confirmed that there has been no detectable replanting of opium poppy, and we have no evidence that drugs transiting these countries significantly affect the United States. I continue, however, to keep the area under observation.

Taiwan. Taiwan was removed from the Majors List in 2000, because there was no evidence that it was any longer a transit point for drugs destined for the United States. Stringent law enforcement procedures, together with enhanced customs inspection and surveil-lance methods, have all but cut off serious flows of heroin from

Taiwan to the United States. At the same time, the opening of major container ports in southern China has diminished Taiwan’s importance for the drug trade. If in the future we detect any drug flows through Taiwan that significantly affect the United States, I will place Taiwan on the Majors List.

Turkey and Other Balkan Route Countries. I continue to be concerned by the large volume of Southwest Asian heroin that moves through Turkey and neighboring countries to Western Europe along the Balkan Route. There is no clear evidence, however, that this heroin significantly affects the United States. In the event that I determine that heroin transiting Turkey, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or other European countries on the Balkan Route significantly affects the United States, I will add the relevant countries to the Majors List.

Major Cannabis Producers. While Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, the Philippines, and South Africa are significant cannabis producers, I have not included them on this list since in all cases the illicit cannabis is either consumed locally or exported to countries other than the United States. I have determined that such illicit cannabis production does not significantly affect the United States.

Sincerely,

GEORGE W. BUSH

November 30, 2001: President Pleased with Mexican Trucking Compromise

President George W. Bush released the following statement on Congressional action related to Mexican trucking on November 30, 2001.

The compromise reached by the House and Senate appropriators on Mexican trucking is an important victory for safety and free trade.  We must promote the highest level of safety and security on American highways while meeting our commitments to our friends to the South.  The compromise reached by the conferees will achieve these twin objectives by permitting our border to be opened in a timely manner and ensuring that all United States safety standards will be applied to every truck and bus operating on our highways.