press statement with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace, Bogotá,
January 19, 2007
Gen Peter Pace:
It is a great pleasure for me to be sitting here next to Minister Santos, General
Padilla, and to be in the same room with the leadership of your military, with
my Ambassador, Ambassador Wood. Congratulations sir on yourthe announcement on
your nomination to be the Ambassador to Afghanistan. I know you will bring the
same strength and determination to that position as thatyou have here in Colombia,
came to listen and to learn. And I very much appreciate the amount of time that
your senior leadership, both civilian and military, have allocated to me to help
me understand how the United States and Colombia can continue to partner as we
move forward both here in Colombia and in the Hemisphere and with the United States.
must tell you how incredibly proud I am to have been just a very small part of
the enormous success that is obvious here in Colombia. The work that has been
done by your government to bring governance to all of Colombia, to bring criminals
to justice, and to provide a better way of life for all Colombians is truly remarkable.
And, we have had discussions yesterday and today about how to continue the very
good partnership, to strengthen the democracy here in Colombia, which in turn
strengthens the democracy in the United States. We have been country-to-country
good friends for literally hundreds of years. We will be good friends for the
next several hundred years. And I am glad to be able to be here to figure out
how to do that in most efficient and effective way.
you for this opportunity to talk to the Colombian people through your media.
Goodman, AP: Welcome to Colombia, General Pace. Taking advantage of your visit
here I wanted toould like to ask you a quick question about Iraq. Today General
Casey in Iraq said that there's is a hope that by late summer some of the troops
that are being sent now could return to the Untied States. Is that a timetable
that you're also working with; is that a feasible goal for you as well?
Peter Pace: I think that any specific talk about timetables is potentially counterproductive
because what we want to have in Iraq is success. And from the military standpoint,
the plan that has been put forward by our military commanders on the ground in
coordination with the Iraqi military is supportive of Prime Minister Maliki's
initiative to bring peace to the people living in the Baghdad area. For the military
part of that that is only one part, it is an important part but it is one part
of three. The other two being good governance brought about by the political leadership
in Iraq, and the third being economic growth so that the young men in Iraq have
an alternative for their energies that provides jobs and support for their families.
So, there are three parts of this that must come together. Could it potentially
do something by the end of this year, you bet. Might it take a little bit longer,
yes. But as long as those three things are movinge together we have every reason
to believe that we will be successful.
Markey, Reuters: General, a quick question on Afghanistan but it is related to
Colombia as well. What specific lessons has the U.S. learned in its cooperation
with Colombia that they think they can take to Afghanistan, especially with the
Ambassador now traveling to Kabul? Can you talk about what specific areas you
have learned here that can really help out in what seems to be more and more an
antinarcotics operation in Afghanistan?
Peter Pace: First of all I should thank President Uribe and the entire Government
here in Colombia for the way that he and his leaders have reached out to President
Karzai and his Government to provide experience, to provide teams of experts to
go sit and talk with President Karzai and the folks that he has working the counter-drug
thing. That has been a very, very helpful contribution by the Colombian Government.
think that the model that is present here in Colombia where the Armed Forces of
the country have rid certain areas of terrorists and then very importantly the
Government has followed with projects that have brought electricity and water
and jobs. And, especially, I I'am not sure this is a right term, but the amnesty
program that has worked here in Colombia with those who have been members of the
FARC, for example, can come forward, lay down their arms, and be supported in
an education process by this Government that allows them to become a productive
part of society. I think that those kinds of outreach programs by the Colombian
Government are a good model for President Karzai to consider as he looks at how
to reduce the amount of drug trafficking in his country and to provide stability
and jobs for his citizens.
Osorio, AFP: General Pace, How does the U.S. Military view the current political
and ideological changes in South America?
Peter Pace: It's pretty far out of my lane as a military officer to make judgments
about politics in the region. I can tell you this. That it is very important to
the United States and very important to Colombia that all of our neighbors in
this hemisphere have the right to live their lives the way they would like to,
to be able to vote for their leaders, to be able to live in peace and freedom
and to be able to go about their lives the way they would like to. So, when you
look at that and you look at how a partnership now here in Colombia, it just strengthens
my belief as a military man that what we are doing together here in Colombia is
the correct thing, to help provide peace and stability for Colombia, and in so
doing, to provide examples for others in this hemisphere. The politics in the
region impact militarily but what I think everyone in the region needs to understand
is that there are countries like Colombia that will fight for their freedom and
that there are countries like the United States that will stand beside them. And
that we all want for everyone in this hemisphere to live in peace and to respect
their neighbors and to respect their neighbors' sovereignty.
Barragan, Channel Caracol: A few hours ago in Rio de Janeiro Bolivian President
Evo questioned harshly aerial eradication of illicit crops in Colombia and its
results and the successes Colombia has had in eradication. He says that he has
seen reports that do not tell him about positive results in Colombia in illicit
crops eradication through glyphosate. Obviously Colombian President Uribe defended
Colombia's position and defended U.S. assistance to Colombia. Listening to your
answers I am surprised to learn that U.S. assistance for Colombia will continue.
Given the concerns raised by other countries in the region, what does the U.S.
Military say? Will U.S. assistance for Colombia continue?
Peter Pace: We are here at the invitation of your Government -- in my personal
experience, first President Pastrana and then President Uribe. This is in the
benefit of both of our countries. This has nothing to do about senior partners
and junior partners or any other kind of relationship other than neutral, sovereign
friends helping each other. And this is a two-way street. The fact that the United
States is able to help Colombia inside Colombia is a good thing for Colombia but
it is also a good thing for my country. And, the fact that your country is fighting
against drugs that a great deal of which comes to the streets of the United States
is your country helping out to help my country, putting your hand out to help
my country. So, tThese are friends helping friends. And, as long as our two governments
agree as they have that both of our countries benefit from helping each other
then we will continue to help each other the way we have. But regardless of how
long that particular kind of help exists, the friendship between our countries
will exist. And we will always look to each other to find ways beyond this current
problem to help each other. So, I am very comfortable for what we have been asked
to do and very comfortable with the respect we have for each other.
Cifuentes, RCN Radio: What comes now for Colombia in terms of U.S. cooperation
under Plan Colombia and in the fight against illegal armed groups?
Peter Pace: I think it is appropriate that the United States wait to hear what
our partner in your Government would like us to do. So, I need to ask Minister
Santos to please answer that question because we will be good partners once we
understand what your Government would like us to help with.
Castillo, CMI News: What is the real situation with your visit? As a journalist
we know that when someone high ranking like you comes to Colombia, he comes with
aid. What is that aid for the Colombian military in terms of interdiction and
U.S. military advisers and training in the fight against drugs and insurgency?
Peter Pace: First, the timing of my visit is because your Government has been
kind enough to invite me to come. I thought I was going to be able to arrive in
October, and then events in the world caused me to postpone that visit. So I am
here now because your Government had asked me to come as soon as I could, and
that's is what I did. So, there is nothing to be read into this timing other than
I am delighted to be able to respond to the invitation from General Padilla.
it would be premature for me to tell you what kind of support our military is
going to give to yours next year when, as I said before and as the Minister said,
your Government is still working on the final details of their plan for next year.
So, we have been talking about the types of things that would be useful, but that
then is a kind of a menu so to speak for your Government to think about, for them
to add into their plan and then for them to have discussions government-to-government
with my Government. Once the two governments decide what is appropriate then military
folks will determine how most effectively and efficiently to apply that. But we
have had-- what now -- six years of very, very solid partnership facilitated by
the two governments and executed by our two militaries together. So I look forward
to being able to continue our friendship and our support.
of January 24, 2007, this document was also available online at http://bogota.usembassy.gov/wwwsgeneralpace.shtml
January 19, 2007