|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 20, 2002
Press Briefing by National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice on the President's Trip to Mexico, Peru and El Salvador
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
4:25 P.M. EST
DR. RICE: Good afternoon, everyone. I want to talk first briefly about why the President is making this trip, and then to highlight some key events and schedule for you, and then I'll be happy to take questions.
The President's first stop will be Monterrey, Mexico, where he will arrive Thursday afternoon. He will meet jointly with Prime Minister Chretien of Canada and President Fox of Mexico to discuss issues of concern to all three countries, focusing on border security and trade. The President strongly believes that good foreign policy begins in the neighborhood, and he looks forward to warm and productive discussions with America's two nearest neighbors and NAFTA partners.
Thursday evening, the President and Mrs. Bush will attend a reception and dinner for heads of state attending the United States Financing for Development Conference. And then Friday morning, the President will have breakfast with President Chirac of France, and then proceed to the conference, where he will deliver a brief address. This conference gives the President the opportunity to reiterate the United States's commitment to development and aid. It also allows him the chance to speak directly to world leaders about his administration's new approach to foreign aid.
A week ago, the President laid out his vision for American assistance to developing countries, and emphasized the need to link aid to sound policies. The Millennium Challenge grants encourage the development of sound economic, legal, and social policies by rewarding those countries that are making the right choices. We know that for countries with the rule of law, free markets, good health care, and education, every dollar of development aid attracts two dollars of private capital. And we know that trade and investment are the true engines of economic growth. That's the message the President will bring to the Monterrey conference.
After his remarks, the President will proceed to a world leaders retreat. On Friday afternoon, the President will meet bilaterally with his good friend, President Fox, to discuss our border, the Partnership for Prosperity, migration, security, and the war on terrorism. This will be the President's eighth meeting with President Fox, underscoring their personal friendship and also the great priority that the President places on relations with Mexico.
Following that meeting, the two Presidents will hold a joint press availability. Friday evening, President and Mrs. Fox will host a reception and dinner for the President and Mrs. Bush.
And then the President will proceed the next day to Lima, where he will arrive on Saturday afternoon. He will be the first sitting President ever to visit Peru, and he will be met at the airport by President Toledo, who will host an arrival ceremony and join the President for a review of Peruvian troops.
Later that afternoon, the two Presidents will have a bilateral meeting where they will discuss Peru's success in implementing democratic and market reforms, as well as ways to further stability and prosperity in the Andean region. And then the Presidents will hold a joint press conference.
The President will then meet with leaders from all four countries of the Andean Trade Preferences Act -- Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The President will reiterate America's commitment to our Andean neighbors, his determination to work with the Andean leaders to reduce both the supply and demand for drugs, and his strong support of free trade between the United States and Andean countries.
Saturday evening, President Toledo will host a reception for the President and Mrs. Bush and the Peruvian Congress, as well as dinner for President and Mrs. Bush.
President Bush will meet with President Flores to discuss El Salvador's emergence as a thriving democracy after years of civil war. They will discuss trade, migration, the U.S. commitment to Central America. And the President will then attend a working lunch with the leaders of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. And there, he will reiterate his strong support for what has been very well-received in the region, his promise to negotiate a Central American free trade agreement. This is something that he announced in January.
The President will return to Washington late Sunday night and be back at work on Monday morning.
Now I'm happy to take your question.
Q Do you hope that the Millennium Challenge Fund will quiet the voices down there who say the United States is not doing enough?
DR. RICE: The hope for the Millennium Challenge Fund is to, first of all, demonstrate American commitment to development. The view that the United States, as a great country and a compassionate country, as the President said, cannot tolerate circumstances in which so much of the world's population still lives in poverty, despite the fact that there have been great strides forward by many parts of the world. So the President is very committed to that. And you might notice that he has gone out of his way to meet with a number of African, Latin American, Central American Presidents that he thinks are making the hard choices that need to be made.
Now, the second message, therefore, is that, while the commitment to increase by 50 percent within three years America's baseline support for development assistance, while that's an important commitment, the more important issue is that this input actually matter; that you actually start to get outputs that change people's lives. And the whole development assistance debate tends to have been about how much money goes in. Well, we know that that's actually not what improves people's lives.
What improves people's lives is when you have policies of good governance, rule of law; when you have governments that are willing to invest in their people, in their health, in their education; and when you have governments that are prepared to pursue free market policies that encourage entrepreneurship. When that happens, the really big dollars, or marks or whatever, can begin to kick in. And that is the money that comes from trade and that comes from investment.
If you just focus on development dollars, you are condemning countries to dependency. If you focus on good policies and development dollars, you are giving countries the ability to become self-sufficient. And so that's the argument that the President wants to take.
Q In Peru, will the President make any announcement about resuming the policy of helping the Peruvian Air Force shoot down planes suspected of carrying drugs?
DR. RICE: No decision has yet been made about the air bridge. It's still being examined to determine what to do going forward.
Q So it's unlikely to be any kind of --
DR. RICE: There will not be an announcement about it during this trip.
Q Dr. Rice, if I could take you back to development aid, the World Bank has an internal document saying that there are 28 countries that they've identified that would not qualify for this increased aid. How concerned are you that this policy ends up punishing some of the poorest people of the world, about 500 million of whom live in those countries -- people who have no voice at all in their government's policies?
DR. RICE: One reason that we created the Millennium Challenge Account was to make clear that we understand that there are still other development needs that need to be met. And therefore, the entire $10 billion that the United States has been devoting, for instance, in this budget year to development assistance continues.
Secondly, the United States is generous. We will feed, on a humanitarian basis, any population, because it is absolutely not the case that people should be -- should starve because they happen to live in countries with bad governments. I only have to point to the fact that we have been the largest donor of food to North Korea, which is obviously not a government that we think very much of. And we were the largest donor of food to Afghanistan under the Taliban. So there are some basic development and humanitarian functions that have to be carried on, whether or not you have good governance, and we will continue to do that.
But the real hope for development, the real hope for prosperity, eventually for people to get out of poverty, doesn't rest with development assistance. It rests with good policies married with development assistance that can then lead to self-sufficiency. So we're not ignoring the fact that there are a lot of development needs in countries where there's not good governance. It's just a statement of fact that you're not going to get real progress leading to self-sufficiency if this isn't a real partnership in which you have good governance. That's why this fund is set aside in the way that it is.
Q To follow up quickly, the President made a link -- drew a link last week between the anti-terror campaign and poverty reduction. Can you talk a little bit about how that evolved and what it -- how important it is?
DR. RICE: Sure. The President wanted to make very clear, poor people are not terrorists. In fact, if there's something that we know about al Qaeda, it's that an awful lot of it, and especially its leadership, but an awful lot of it comes from privilege, not from poverty. Poor people are not murderers, like the terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11th.
However, in countries where there are not good policies and where there is a hopelessness and where there is poverty, you can create conditions of a kind that you had in Afghanistan that these parasites can latch on. And so this is both strengthening the capacity of states that are willing to be strengthened, and dealing with some of the hopelessness that is out there in the world.
Even though the kind of hard link that people try to sometimes make between poverty and terrorism isn't a link that can be demonstrated, there's no doubt that hopelessness can lead to all kinds of bad things. And so development assistance is important to stability. It is also just important as a moral imperative.
Q Does the President plan to ask President Toledo for permission to use Peruvian -- land on the border of Colombia on the Peru side for a U.S. military counter-terrorism operation? There are reports about it in the Peruvian press.
DR. RICE: Are there reports about it in the Peruvian press? As you know, concerning Colombia, the only thing that the United States is currently contemplating is working with the Congress to look at the authorities that are there, to be able to help the Colombian government in its counterterrorism campaign. So all that's being done here is a look at the authorities. This is not a move -- we're not, for instance, going after the Byrd amendment or after the Leahy amendment. So I think it would be far premature to talk about such a thing.
The Peruvians have been involved in the general regional effort to do something about the drug trade, of which Plan Colombia is a part. But in terms of counterterrorism operations, no.
Q Can I follow on that, Dr. Rice? Before the President meets, that group meeting which will include the President of Colombia Saturday night, will there be something sent up to Congress regarding Colombia? A dollar figure in terms of expanded authority to use military assistance for counterterrorism?
DR. RICE: The plan right now is likely as a part of the supplemental to ask for the review of the authorities. And also, there is new money that has been there for Colombia that I believe totals as much as $98 million, which is for some military training, some military spare parts, for intelligence-sharing and the like -- but still principally for the counternarcotics mission. What we're doing in seeking these new authorities is to try to make certain that as the Congress has put it, we're not stretching the authorities when we help the Colombian government on the counterterrorism side.
After all, things on the ground have changed a lot in recent weeks. The FARC has demonstrated what it is in the way that it's behaved, in this terrorist way. The United States has long had it on the terrorist list, so it's not a surprise to us. But the Colombian government has decided that the peace process is going nowhere with the FARC. So the situation has changed on the ground.
Q So the supplemental, though, won't go up before the President's trip?
DR. RICE: No. No.
Q Dr. Rice, I have a couple of questions for you. First of all, you said that in Monterrey, the President will meet with Prime Minister Chretien and President Fox in a trilateral. Then he will have a breakfast with the President of France, Jacques Chirac. But there will be many world leaders, and one of them is going to be the President of Argentina, Eduardo Duhalde. Will there be a chance for the two of them to meet, whether in a bilateral or whether -- at a reception, to discuss the Argentinean situation?
DR. RICE: There is not a planned meeting with President Duhalde. They have talked on the telephone. We've been in constant contact with the Argentines. I'm confident they will see each other, I'm certain. But there's no plan for a meeting.
At this point in time, Argentina is deeply involved in precisely the right activity, which is working with the IMF to try to get to a plan that can give them a sustainable position. And we think that that work just needs to go on.
Q My second question has to do with Venezuela. It is very obviously apparent that Venezuela has not been invited to the union with the Andean countries, which Venezuela is a major part. Is this a particular request of the United States or the President of Peru --
DR. RICE: No, this is not the Andean countries; this is the Andean Trade Preferences Act group, of which Venezuela is not a member.
Q Dr. Rice, when in Peru, will the President talk about sort of how the war on drugs or the war against these drug lords fits into the overall war on terrorism?
DR. RICE: Yes. Because the President is very aware that many of the issues of capacity that make states vulnerable to the kind of parasite that is there with terrorism also make them vulnerable in the drug trade. For instance, if you think about something, corruption, problems of corruption in police forces, problems of corruptions in judiciaries, if you think about the need for better intelligence and better law enforcement cooperation, the advantage to doing something about the capacity of countries to deal with bad things on their territory, is that it makes them capable of dealing with a host of bad things, among them terrorism and counter-narcotics.
And so, yes, there has been a lot of interest, particularly in Latin America, in looking at these capacity-building issues. The United States obviously has a very strong interest in doing that.
To give you another example, the work that Governor Ridge has been doing with his Mexican counterpart is very important in terms of the so-called smart borders, making certain that we have the best technology on the borders. That's obviously going to help both on the counter-narcotics side and on the counter-terrorism side. So, yes, there are important links there.
Q Two quick questions. Do you expect the Presidents, Fox and Bush, to see seek acceleration in immigration talks or set a deadline, perhaps? And, secondly, Fidel Castro apparently is coming tomorrow. Is there any chance that those two leaders will cross paths?
DR. RICE: On the second, it won't surprise you that we're not meeting with Castro.
Q -- even a chance encounter?
DR. RICE: I think it won't surprise you that we're not meeting with Castro. I hope that, while he's there, people will remind him that he is a representative of the only country in the hemisphere that's been unable to function with the OAS, that can't be a part of the Summit of the Americas Democracy Charter, and that message gets through to him. But it's not going to be one the President delivers.
In terms of the -- I'm sorry, the other one was about -- immigration?
Q Yes. Any timetable or --
DR. RICE: No. The Presidents made very clear on September 5th that the issue here was to get immigration policy done right. The President's views on this are clear, and his position is unassailable. It goes back to when he was governor of Texas. He believes that immigrants, including a lot of people who braved the desert and the Rio Grande to get to the United States, are people who were seeking a better life. And so he believes very strongly in humanitarian treatment of these people. He believes very strongly that the border has to be safe, that you have to do something about people who prey on immigrants.
He believes strongly that willing workers and willing workers ought to be matched up, because it's good for our economy and good for the Mexican people. He believes, like President Fox, that some of the most ambitious people who come to the United States are best going to be served when it's possible to have economic circumstances in Mexico that allows them to be home. The Presidents share a lot. But they both also understand that this is something that has to be done over time, that is going to take some time.
Now, they do have a high-level working group that is continuing to work. They have technical working groups that are continuing to work. And I think this will give a new spur to those groups perhaps doing their work.
It would be extremely helpful if the one thing that we think we could do quickly could get out of the Senate. The 245(i), which, after all, is not an amnesty -- this is just a false argument -- it's not an amnesty. What it is, is an effort to do something about keeping families together. That's the great bulk of people who benefit from 245(i), people who simply want to keep their families united.
And the President's been working very hard. He said yesterday, we need to get 245(i) out of the Senate. It's out of the House; we need to get it out of the Senate. And so that would be a very positive signal that the United States is moving ahead in this very important area, like its President. But we can't do it without the help of the Senate.
Q Yes, a question on Argentina. President Bush said yesterday that Argentina still needs to do reforms in order to get the financial assistance. But the Argentinean government, and even independent economists, think that if they don't get some kind of assistance, it's going to be very, very difficult to do the reforms. So how do you see that problem?
DR. RICE: Well, we've been down this road before. There was a significant grant of funding to Argentina in the summer. And because the reforms have not been -- had not taken place, it really was not money that managed to create the situation which is needed in Argentina, which is a sustainable budget policy, sustainable policies for growth in Argentina. And so we believe strongly that working with the IMF is the best way for Argentina to create conditions where any assistance is actually going to make a difference.
The President said to President Duhalde, and he said in a public speech, that he is a friend of Argentina. The United States is a friend of Argentina. We're extremely sympathetic to what the Argentine people are going through.
When these reforms are underway, and when they've been made in a way that we can have sustainable growth, the international community is going to be there for Argentina. But the reforms have got to be made. And we understand that these discussions are continuing with the IMF, we're supportive of those discussions. Everybody wants Argentina to succeed. There's a lot of goodwill to get this done.
Q Dr. Rice, you've spoken of the generosity of the American people, even to countries whose regimes we abhor. What do you say to the critics, America's critics, who say compared to the size of our economy we're really not that generous?
DR. RICE: I say to people that the United States provides for the world a lot that others do not, including security. I mean, what we're doing to increase stability and security around the world right now is really quite remarkable. And the United States has been for a long time in many parts of the world a guarantor of security.
But this is a generous country. It's a generous country in what it has done in helping and training others, in bringing people to this country for courses of study, in staying open to immigrants. It is also a generous country in that it recognizes that development assistance needs to be used to create conditions where people are not going to be dependent.
Look, all the development assistance in the world is not going to replace what the United States does in being a leader of free trade in the world. The amount of development assistance will never match what countries can simply do by being able to get their products to market. So I would say to some of those countries who talk about generosity and development assistance, look at your own trade practices, see whether or not your markets are open to developing countries to the same degree that the United States has opened its markets to developing countries.
Q Are you talking about anybody in particular --
DR. RICE: I won't nominate anybody in particular. Let's just say, if the shoe fits, wear it.
Q To follow up on that, Dr. Rice, the World Bank has a target of 0.7 percent of GNP for countries like the United States. And what I hear you saying, do you think that's a target the Bush administration doesn't agree with because it's not about money?
DR. RICE: I think that it is a false debate to talk about inputs without talking about what it gets. And the intervening piece is, do you have good policies, do you have a government that actually is putting money into the education and health of its people? Do you have a government that is opening its markets?
You know, one of the interesting things is, the developing countries very often want their markets open to products from the developed world. We're all for that. We're the most free trading country in the world. But it's also helpful if they open their markets to each other.
The Central Americans believe that the free trade agreement that they will sign with us will also help them to open their markets to each other. So you will need governments that will encourage entrepreneurship, that will allow small business to flourish.
The input piece of this is important. But it's not nearly as important as the circumstances that are created for economic development. There's a long history of development assistance. There are still an awful lot of very poor countries in the world. There are some that have broken out of poverty, and they've broken out of poverty by investing in their people, developing rule of law, opening trade and encouraging entrepreneurship. That is what has to be done.
Finally, as I said, the United States in its trading practices and in the fact that we also find ways to encourage foreign direct investment in countries that are able to attract it, I think if you really totted up everything, you'd find the United States probably has done more for development than anybody in the world.
Q Two questions. You spoke earlier about the statements that Presidents Fox and Bush made back on 9/5 about immigration. Of course, six days later, we had 9/11. There are some in Mexico who feel that, because of that -- and it's not necessarily said as a criticism, just as the fact of the matter -- is the President here has had to focus on the war and on terrorism, and that progress has been slowed on immigration and other bilateral issues. Is that a fair statement? Are you now getting back on track, now that we're past six months from 9/11? And the second question is about Peru. There are some reports that the coca crop is coming back in Peru. Any concern about that?
DR. RICE: Well, on the second question, we are continuing to work with all the Andean countries on ways to eradicate the supply of drugs. But as the President has said, we also have to work on the demand side. I think that one reason they've been so willing to talk about the problems of supply is that we've been willing to talk about the problems of demand.
I have not seen the figures. There's no doubt that this is a day-to-day battle, not something that you win outright, in terms of the coca crop. But I think these are committed governments, and we're prepared to help them with intelligence, we're prepared to help them with crop substitution. The entire purpose of the whole Andean plan is to try to give them ways to fight and eradicate the drug supply.
In terms of the Mexican relationship, the U.S.-Mexican relationship, I think it couldn't be stronger. President Fox and President Bush have continued to talk frequently since 9/11. They have seen each other since then. They are continuing to work the agenda.
If anything, it's given a new impetus to things like the border talks. The Mexicans were one of the first countries to try and support us during the time when we were trying to get our airplanes down. The Mexicans have been very, very supportive. And there is absolutely no way in which either the importance or the vitality of this relationship has been diminished by 9/11.
And I think you will see that in their meeting, it is the case that there are a lot of hard issues that Mexico and the United States have to address, like the migration issue, that frankly, haven't even been on the agenda before these two Presidents. The fact that they are even prepared to put together a high level team to start working these issues, when for so many years nobody talked about this issue as a bilateral U.S.-Mexican relationship issue.
When you look at what they're doing with the Partnership for Prosperity -- which I think is one of the most important and perhaps undervalued initiatives that the President is addressing with President Fox -- NAFTA created a tremendous economic boom in Mexico. But it's uneven. It's mostly along the border states. And one of President Fox's concerns has been to take that prosperity and transfer it to the center of the country and to the south. It also is one of his interests to do something about Central America, because Mexico is experiencing migration problems, migration pressures, from Central America.
Now, what this Partnership for Prosperity will do is it will try to harness some private sector energy -- through small business association, through grants and bringing Mexican students to the United States for exchange; doing something about homeownership in Mexico -- a lot of small things that will increase prosperity in that region. These kinds of activities, sometimes, for all of us, and especially for the press, are below the radar screen. But they speak to the depth and the breadth of the Mexican-American relationship, and it speaks to the willingness to tackle hard problems and go at them in a practical way.
Q On the Millennium Fund, a couple of questions. If the President feels so strongly that it's not the amount, but the use to which the money is put, and the circumstances of the society that it goes in, why wait until 2004? Why not make all U.S. aid subject to these reforms? And how is it possible that the White House and the President managed to understate the amount being devoted here? It's the first time I have ever known the White House to understate an initiative.
DR. RICE: Just imagine what you would have thought if we had overstated the initiative, I can just imagine. (Laughter.)
Let's talk first about the issue of not making this a demand for all aid. It is the case that there are a lot of development tasks that need to get done, and some of them humanitarian, some of them are underway. There are a lot of things that have to get done. And so this new vehicle, this new account allows us to begin to change the terms of debate without, frankly, having to have the argument of where does it come from. That's why there's new money here, so that you can continue to do that.
Now, there's no doubt that our preference is that, over time, all development assistance would be going to places that are using it well and that are engaged in good policies. But for the time being, we recognize that there are other things that have to be done.
We're starting in '04, we will have some technical assistance money. There's a little bit that will probably go forward even in this supplemental. There is some money that we're trying to move around in '03 to help countries develop grant proposals, assessments, the like, to get ready to use large inflows of aid. And so '04, we think, is about the right timing to get this money in.
Now, as to the "understatement," it was always the case, and I will be the first to admit that perhaps the fact sheet was not very clear in this regard, it was always the case that the $5 billion is an end state in base money. The confusion was the difference between one-time money, this $5 billion three times and that's it, or is it a $5 billion base commitment at the end of a three-year period. It is the latter. It is a $5 billion base commitment at the end of a three-year period, meaning that the base of U.S. aid would go from $10 billion to $15 billion. That's the point.
Now, we were, frankly, not prepared to try to fill in exactly how much money in year one, exactly how much money in year two. We know it would be roughly a 15-percent increase in year one, roughly something in year two, and then the only committed number is $5 billion at the end of that. So we didn't want to go out there with essentially false or phoney numbers or uncommitted numbers in year one and year two.
The 50 percent number we, frankly, were a little uncomfortable using because people count different things in the denominator as to what actually is there. What's very clear, and should have been clear, we think, on day one -- I'm an old budget officer, so base budget -- when you talk about base budget, you get the miracle of compounding.
So, yes, this is a lot of money -- what should have been very clear, but is now, I think, absolutely clear to the world, is that this is a significant, substantial, really large increase in American development assistance. It is larger than any increase in recent memory. And it is going to change the terms of the debate about development, because we felt very strongly we could not go out there and say, this really has to be about outputs, unless we were prepared to say something about inputs as well.
But we do not believe that the answer to this -- to poverty and poverty alleviation lies in inputs. It lies in policies, good policies, and the outcomes are what ought to be measured. Do people's lives really get improved? It should not be how much money you put in, it should be, are people's lives really being improved?
MR. McCORMACK: One last question.
Q A question on the Partnership for Prosperity.
DR. RICE: Yes.
Q Can you confirm the $30-million number that's been reported, or give us any indication as to how they're going to advance this when he gets down there?
DR. RICE: Yes. There is no $30 million in Partnership for Prosperity. The Partnership for Prosperity is a private sector effort, small business and others. Now, as it gets going, there may well be other resources needed. But currently, those resources are not needed for the way that this is structured.
The most that I can tell about how that $30 million got there is that there is an existing program, has been there for a while, called Partnership for Prosperity for Central America, for which USAID has a budget of about $25 million or $30 million. But that is not a number that -- that number is incorrect for Partnership for Prosperity. Partnership for Prosperity is a different kind of program.
Q Will he have a number? Will he propose some additional American aid to Mexico to help get development underway?
DR. RICE: We believe that currently, given NAFTA, given the assistance that's in place, what Partnership for Prosperity will do is it really helps structurally. It really helps to bring to bear some of the agencies and some of the private sector entities to do this in a very micro sense. That is, putting together mortgage lenders with people who need mortgages. So this is not something that requires a lot of resources. There are resources already there in most of the agencies that will be involved in this.
I will take one more.
Q Dr. Rice, will the countries' cooperation in the war on terrorism carry any weight in their eligibility for money under the Millennium Account?
DR. RICE: We believe very strongly that a country that is doing the right things in the areas that we've talked about -- that is, the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights, a country that is educating its people in skills, and that's concerned about health, and especially a country that wants to be a part of the open and free trading system and is encouraging entrepreneurship is going to be a natural partner in the war on terrorism. So, frankly, we're not concerned about it; we believe that those will be natural partners.
Q Can you comment about another region of the world? Does the President have any plans to meet with King Abdullah of Jordan in the next week? I know he's going to be in Monterrey.
DR. RICE: He does not have plans to do that in the next week. You know, he's met with King Abdullah a couple of times. I'm sure that they will see each other in Monterrey, but they don't have a planned meeting, no.
Q Are plans in the works for the Vice President, though, to travel next week to meet with Mr. Arafat?
DR. RICE: The Vice President, I think, has made clear that he is prepared to do that, but that until there is some sense that this would actually be helpful -- and we have General Zinni on the ground. He is working at this every day. He's trying to get people into Tenet.
Tenet needs to be underway. Chairman Arafat needs to be doing what he needs to do, in terms of bringing terrorism under control. But this is not an unwillingness; it's just an assessment of when and if it would be helpful.
Thank you very much.
END 5:03 P.M. EST