This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

Home
|
Analyses
|
Aid
|
|
|
News
|
|
|
|
Last Updated:3/1/01
Briefing by senior administration officials on Bush-Pastrana meeting, February 27, 2001
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

February 27, 2001

BACKGROUND BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS ON THE PRESIDENT'S MEETING WITH COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT PASTRANA

Office of the Press Secretary

4:17 P.M. EST

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: First of all, let me make a few points about me. I've been asked to give you a readout on the bilateral meeting between the Presidents. They had an excellent meeting, an excellent discussion. President Pastrana updated President Bush on progress on Plan Colombia, particularly the peace process, drug eradication efforts.

The President expressed his strong support for President Pastrana's efforts to achieve peace, as well as President Pastrana's strong determination to thwart the drug trade. They discussed human rights and the need to continue to improve the situation in Colombia. They talked about trade.

President Bush pledged his support for renewal of the Andean Trade Preference Act that came into law in 1991. President Bush said he was willing to work with the Congress to see if we can enhance it to include other products. And I would also note that President Pastrana is committed to turning around his economy and we believe -- and President Bush said he believed -- that President Pastrana is on the right course on the economic side.

QUESTION: Was there any discussion at all about any aid packages?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not any specific numbers, no. What was discussed was Plan Colombia. President Pastrana gave a good brief on what the Colombians have achieved, and it is indeed impressive. And he talked about continuing Colombian efforts.

Of course, let me say this, Plan Colombia is something that the Colombians have come up with. It represents more than $7 billion, about $7.5 billion. Half of that is projected to come from Colombian sources. Half of that is -- roughly half of that is projected to come from non-Colombian sources, that is, international financial institutions and bilateral support.

The United States' segment of Plan Colombia is $1.3 billion, and we have already committed ourselves and have begun the expenditure of our contribution under that larger $7.5 billion Plan Colombia.

Q: To follow up on that, President Pastrana really hasn't put forth a lot of his financial commitment from that. Did President -- was there any discussion of that? Did President Bush ask him to go ahead and put in the -- ask for him to start putting that forth?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What they talked about was the overall performance of Colombia and what the Colombians project to do. President Pastrana put a lot of emphasis on the economic side; he put a lot of emphasis on trade and attracting investment. And it was very clear the direction in which the Colombians are going. In other words, building on Plan Colombia and moving ahead and putting a lot of emphasis on trade and investment.

Q: -- Colombia wants Bush to meet with all the countries that benefit from the Andean Trade Preference Act. Did Bush agree to this?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think what you're referring to is they're talking about the Summit of the Americas in Quebec in the 3rd week of April, and who the President is going to be meeting with in Quebec. Nothing has been nailed down as far as that's concerned. There's a lot of work still to be done on with whom the President is going to be meeting with. But that concept was certainly discussed.

Q: Why did the U.S. refuse to invite -- refuse an invitation for sending an observer?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think the President addressed that.

Q: What was the reason?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: May I read to you from --

Q: You don't have to read it.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's right there. The only thing I would add to that is -- no, I really don't want to add very much to it. I think President Bush says it all. He said that this is something the Colombians are working on. Oh, yes, it certainly is something the Colombians are working on. President Pastrana addressed the subject outside in terms of this is an ongoing process, and there is nothing really nailed down there. So I don't think there is anything to nail it to.

There's one other consideration that we must keep in mind. The FARC is responsible for the murder of three American missionaries in Colombia in 1999. Those American missionaries were shot in the face by the FARC, their bodies were dumped over on the Venezuelan side of the border. That was a particularly horrendous crime. And we're waiting to see what the FARC does about that.

Q: Just to clarify, did the two Presidents talk about this issue today? Did Pastrana raise it again with President Bush, about joining the peace talks?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Again, I will refer you to the text.

Q: The President didn't address that question.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I refer you to the text, and you can go back to the words of the President.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was raised in the photo op. He's asking whether it was raised in the meeting.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Not in the terms in which it was addressed by the question --

Q: Can you?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, I can. It was -- President Pastrana mentioned what his peace plan was all about and his involvement of -- he explained that.

Q: Did he ask President Bush to help him out in the U.S.?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: President Pastrana explained what his objective was and how he intended to achieve it. And President Bush addressed that specific question on the record.

Q: -- spoken on the issue of Andean trade preferences, whether or not Bush --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The President was quite specific. They did discuss the subject of trade and President Bush said to President Pastrana that the administration will support Andean trade preferences and work with the Congress to see if it can be enhanced to include other products.

Q: Can you clarify what you meant with regard to the FARC? It's U.S. policy from time immemorial not to negotiate with terrorists, and we considered the FARC as terrorists, narco terrorists. And now you're saying, if I understand it -- clarify me if I get this wrong -- that the U.S. representative would speak to the FARC if this issue of the missionaries --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'm not getting into any hypothetical situation. I'm just saying -- I refer you to what the President said in response to a question specifically on the subject and I'll stick to that --

Q: Did President Pastrana mention at all the possibility of U.S. representatives having some kind of contact with FARC --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that subject did not come up specifically.

Q: Can you tell us what President Bush's response, written response was to Pastrana's explanation? You mentioned that he explained the peace plan -- what was this plan about and what was the President's response to that explanation?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: He said he supports President Pastrana's efforts to achieve peace in Colombia.

Q: Can I ask you, the human rights report yesterday drew a distinction between government activities, paramilitaries and guerrillas. Did President Bush seek, or did President Pastrana offer any specific action to reduce cooperation with paramilitaries?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They discussed human rights. They discussed the need to continue to improve the human rights situation in Colombia. And they discussed the human rights situation with regard to the paramilitary.

Q: And what was that --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They discussed -- President Pastrana explained what Colombia is doing.

Q: Was there any talk about appointing a new drug czar?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, that subject did not come up.

Q: Was there any discussion about --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. No.

Q: -- not only for Colombia, but also for many countries -- many countries are -- with Colombia to export their drugs -- how can you stop it?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, they discussed -- as I said, President Pastrana updated President Bush on the progress of Plan Colombia across the board, and particularly both the peace process and the drug eradication effort. It was a very complete briefing.

Q: Did President Bush ask for any -- make sure that President Pastrana follows through on his vow, I guess --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They did indeed discuss human rights and they did indeed discuss the need to continue to improve the situation in Colombia.

Q: Did President Bush ask President Pastrana to support a U.S. sponsored resolution censuring China before the U.N. Human Rights Commission next month?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The subject did not come up.

Q: In the discussion about the Andean trade -- was there any discussion about the -- President Pastrana wanted the timetable to be moved up -- was there any discussion about when that timing would be and whether, in the meantime, President Bush would support --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They discussed the whole subject, the entire subject of free trade, the FTA, and they discussed the Quebec summit, and they discussed ways to approach this subject at the summit.

Q: So there were no specific timetables --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was as I just said.

Q: There wasn't, okay, by this day I'll do something --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No. There was a lot of discussion of all the points that I mentioned. It wasn't a negotiating session or anything like that.

Q: President Pastrana didn't ask for anything that President Bush --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: President Pastrana filled President Bush in on progress on Plan Colombia, as I indicated, and the peace process and drug eradication efforts, and the other subjects that I discussed with you.

Q: Did they specify exactly what products those preferences will be expanded to include?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was talk -- let me get back as I said at the beginning, at the top, President Bush said he was willing to work with the Congress to see if we can enhance the Andean Trade Preference Act to include other products.

Q: But no specific products were mentioned?

Q: Was there any discussion about inviting other countries as part of the --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The regional approach, yes, was touched upon, and how to go about that. Because the problem goes beyond Colombia. It's an Andean regional problem.

Q: Did Pastrana respond to Bush's comment at the press conference that he wanted to bring President Fox into the Colombian situation as a stabilizing influence, I think he said?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, what was discussed was President Fox's participation with Colombia and Venezuela in the G-3 arrangement that has existed for several years now, and the fact that President Fox is taking an active interest in the regional issues of the hemisphere.

Q: Was there any mention of what he might do?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was talk of support for Colombia across the board.

Q: President Bush said in the photo op that U.S. demand is -- did he address, in fact, meeting --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: President Bush addressed U.S. demand, yes, he did. He did that in the private meeting, as well. And he talked about the need for the United States to do more in terms of dealing with the demand -- the drug demand situation in our country.

Q: -- Colombia have any excess capacity to produce more --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Colombia is an oil producer, and President Pastrana talked about his government's plans to attract more investment in the energy sector.

Q: -- like the U.S. oil companies going down for exploration --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Indeed. And there are U.S. oil companies that are there already.

Q: What was he specifically saying? How does he propose to attract more U.S. investment in the oil field in Colombia?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: By offering -- part of President Pastrana's message today was that Colombia is interested in more trade and in more investment, and specifically he talked about more investment in the energy sector.

Q: There was no inducement or incentive --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was a new law, and he mentioned this, that passed last year that has resulted in $35 million in exploration contracts. And I think with the Vice President, he mentioned a new natural gas law that's pending before Congress.

Q: -- say anything about the meeting with the Vice President, why they had a separate --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was a scheduling conflict on the Vice President's part.

Q: Could you say something about the formatting of the meeting, how long it lasted --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was President Bush and President Pastrana. President Pastrana was accompanied by his Foreign Minister. He was accompanied by his Ambassador to the United States and the Ambassador's Deputy and one of the private secretaries.

President Bush was accompanied by Andy Card, the Chief of Staff; Condoleezza Rice, Alan Larson, the Acting Secretary of State, Ambassador Anne Patterson, and the unnamed senior administration official.

Q: How long did this go --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It was scheduled for 45 minutes --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: The entire briefing time on the meeting has not exceeded the entire meeting time. So I think we've now spent more time analyzing the meeting than they actually spent meeting.

Q: Did they have coffee --

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They had coffee, Colombian coffee.

END 4:35 P.M. EST

As of March 1, 2001, this document was also available online at http://usinfo.state.gov/admin/011/lef310.htm

Google
Search WWW Search ciponline.org

Asia
|
Colombia
|
|
Financial Flows
|
National Security
|

Center for International Policy
1717 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Suite 801
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 232-3317 / fax (202) 232-3440
cip@ciponline.org