by senior administration officials on Bush-Pastrana meeting, February
Office of the Press Secretary
February 27, 2001
BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS ON THE PRESIDENT'S MEETING WITH COLOMBIAN
Office of the Press
4:17 P.M. EST
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
OFFICIAL: I think the President addressed that.
Q: What was the reason?
OFFICIAL: May I read to you from --
Q: You don't have
to read it.
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?
OFFICIAL: Again, I will refer you to the text.
Q: The President
didn't address that question.
OFFICIAL: I refer you to the text, and you can go back to the words of
OFFICIAL: It was raised in the photo op. He's asking whether it was raised
in the meeting.
OFFICIAL: Not in the terms in which it was addressed by the question --
Q: Can you?
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.?
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 --
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 --
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 --
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?
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
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
OFFICIAL: They discussed -- President Pastrana explained what Colombia
Q: Was there any
talk about appointing a new drug czar?
OFFICIAL: No, that subject did not come up.
Q: Was there any
discussion about --
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?
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 --
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?
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 --
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 --
OFFICIAL: It was as I just said.
Q: There wasn't,
okay, by this day I'll do something --
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 --
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?
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
Q: But no specific
products were mentioned?
Q: Was there any
discussion about inviting other countries as part of the --
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
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
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?
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
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 --
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 --
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?
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 --
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 --
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 --
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
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
OFFICIAL: It was scheduled for 45 minutes --
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
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