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Last Updated:4/15/02
Excerpt from State Department daily briefing, April 15, 2002
Daily Press Briefing
Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
April 15, 2002

QUESTION: On Colombia, do you have any comments about the recent violent events in Colombia, especially threats to one of the presidential candidates?

MR. REEKER: We have been following that, of course, closely, and the United States condemns the recent upsurge in violence in Colombia, including the apparent suicide -- pardon me, apparent assassination attempt on presidential candidate Uribe. The expanded attacks in urban areas and a mass kidnapping of provincial lawmakers in Cali are also of great concern, and we condemn all of those developments.

Once more, I think we are seeing that innocent civilians have been kidnapped, and others killed, as a result of irresponsible and brutal acts. And once again, we call upon all combatants to halt such terrorism against the Colombian people and against Colombia's democracy.

QUESTION: Do you think this situation in Colombia in some way will accelerate the work of the administration with Congress to get the different legal measure to help Colombia on the fight against terrorism?

MR. REEKER: Well, as you know, we have a supplemental bill pending before Congress in terms of some increased funding to support our initiatives, working with the Government of Colombia, working with President Pastrana's government and his successors, to support Colombian democracy, to fight terrorism, to fight narcotics trafficking. As you know, they are very much linked. And so we will continue working with Congress. Under Secretary Grossman was testifying recently on that. We will continue to work with Congress to expedite that process. I just couldn't give you a particular timeline on how that will work out, but I think we have been very transparent and forthcoming in how we are proceeding with that and how we want to work with Colombia to protect -- help Colombia protect their democracy.

QUESTION: A follow-up. Last week in a hearing with Under Secretary Reich, Congressman Paul of Texas asked about the $80 million request by the President to help fight against terrorism in one of the pipelines in a city in Colombia. And he asked about if the United States will consider private enterprises, as the one in California who owns the pipeline, to pay that money to help the Government of Colombia to fight terrorism. Do you have any comments on that?

MR. REEKER: I would have to check back on the Congressman's question and what sort of response we were able to prepare for him. I would leave that to our Legislative Affairs Office, but I am happy to look into it and see if they had responded to the specific question. I think we have been quite clear about the need to support Colombia in terms of economic aspects to defend vital parts of their economy, which are crucial to their democracy as well. That is why we have requested funding, to help them protect the pipeline against terrorists who have used that to try to disrupt the Colombian economy and therefore attack the core of Colombian democracy. So we will continue to pursue that, but I will check and see if we had a specific answer and what the specific question was.

As of April 15, 2002, this document was also available online at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2002/9396.htm
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