from State Department daily briefing, April 1, 2002
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
April 1, 2002
QUESTION: There is concern
in the Latin American press --
MR. REEKER: Uh-oh.
QUESTION: I know
you've got a terrible problem on your hands in the Middle East, but is
this dynamism that was obtained by the Bush visit going to be dissipated?
And specifically, are you going to energetically pursue the initiative
to give more money to Colombia, and link it to direct fighting against
MR. REEKER: Well,
I think you saw what was sent up to the Hill in terms of a bill for supplemental
funding that includes some money for Colombia. We certainly will pursue
that. That is the administration's supplemental funding request. I don't
think I have anything further to add at this point.
Certainly, the President's
trip illustrated how important Latin America is to us, how committed we
are to maintaining the positive trends that we have seen in recent years,
in terms of democracy there. The President spoke about that when he was
in Lima and other stops in the region. So I just don't think I have anything
further to add at this point. We will be working with Congress, of course,
to see that legislation through, and to help Colombia fight against threats
to its democracy.
And we have talked
about the links between narco-traffickers and terrorists there in Colombia,
including the FARC organization that has long been listed as a terrorist
organization, and its links to narco-trafficking are well known. That
is why we think additional money is important there, and additional opportunities,
as well as keeping within some of the legislatively mandated rules we
have for that engagement in Colombia.
So our determination
is to try to help our Colombian friends, to help President Pastrana and
the democratically elected government in Colombia to work towards that
goal, because that is in keeping with American interests and interests
of the region.
As of April 15, 2002,
this document was also available online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2002/9093.htm