from State Department Daily Briefing, January 31, 2001
January 31, 2001
(On The Record Unless Otherwise Noted)
QUESTION: Do you
have any reaction to President Pastrana's decision to extend FARC (inaudible),
as it's called, by four days?
MR. BOUCHER: It wasn't
clear to me exactly what period. It is a very brief period that he has
decided to extend this for. And we do understand that he has extended
it for a brief period in order to allow time to hold a meeting with the
FARC leader, to try to salvage the foundering peace process between the
government and the FARC.
The Government of
Colombia, we think, must be free to make its own decisions on what will
yield progress in the peace process. We have always said that we would
welcome developments that help Colombia move towards peace, national reconciliation,
and progress against narcotics trafficking.
QUESTION: Did you
say foundering or floundering?
MR. BOUCHER: I said
QUESTION: Yes, but
that's the big thing at Columbia Journalism School. Flounder is a fish.
MR. BOUCHER: Thank
QUESTION: Even though
the United States is always saying that they back up the peace process
mostly, whatever happens after a peace process, if there is a peace process
or not, will impact directly on the relations and the work that the US
and Colombia are doing. There is eight years ago Americans kidnapped by
the FARC; they haven't responded. There have been seven extensions of
the DMZ zone by President Pastrana; they haven't responded. There is also
probably many things are going on inside the DMZ.
Is there any way
-- space for peace after all these by the FARC?
MR. BOUCHER: I think,
first of all, it is important to remember we have indeed expressed ourselves
on the various things that have happened. We have cooperated with the
Government of Colombia. We have cooperated with other governments in terms
of, if you will remember not too long ago, the arrests of people that
showed the connection between FARC and the narco-traffickers. So our assistance
and our support for Colombia, including our endorsement of their efforts
to gain peace, are very broad-ranging and indeed focus especially on the
issue of narcotics trafficking, which has a connection to the FARC.
But I think in the
end, we do need to say that we leave the government free to make its own
decisions on how to proceed on the peace process. We do think the peace
process is important. President Pastrana has pursued this steadfastly
in various ways, and we really leave to him the decisions about how to
proceed because, in the end, the country needs peace.
said in your response that it was a short period to extend this by. Do
you mean that as an observation, or would you like to have seen them extend
it by a longer period?
MR. BOUCHER: No,
that is an observation. My people told me a week; I saw another report
that said three days; you said four days. I'm just not sure exactly how
long it was, but it wasn't very long.
As of February 12,
2001, this document was also available online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2001/index.cfm?docid=72