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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
October 25, 2006

President Bush Welcomes President Fernandez of the Dominican Republic to the White House
The Oval Office

President's Remarks

      In Focus: Global Diplomacy

2:20 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT BUSH: Bienvenidos a mi amigo, the President of the Dominican Republic. I'm proud to be with a strong leader who is focused on reform and rule of law and prosperity.

The President informed me that the economy of the Dominican Republic grew by 9 percent last year. And I want to congratulate you, Mr. President.

We talked about how to continue economic growth and vitality. It's in the interests of the United States that the Dominican Republic have a strong economy. We talked about the need for us to help with the multilateral institutions, to -- for them to work with this government to help with cash flows and cash demands so that this economy can continue its growth and strength.

We talked DR-CAFTA, and how important this piece of legislation is to the people of the Dominican Republic and to the people of the United States. And I assured the President that we will implement DR-CAFTA as quickly as possible, as soon as possible. And to that end, I have my trade minister, Ambassador Susan Schwab, here to make sure that we both heard the message of the President, that this was a very important piece of legislation and that we have committed -- our government has committed to working with you, Mr. President, to get this done as quickly as possible.

Y por fin, we talked about the need for us to work closely on drug trafficking. The United States of America must continue to work to diminish the demand for drugs, and we are. As well, we want to work with our partners in the hemisphere, particularly the Dominican Republic, to interdict the drugs and to help these countries be able to avoid and fight off the scourge of drugs, because there is a direct correlation between drugs and crime, and the more we can cut down on drug use and drug trafficking and drug supplies, the easier it will be for respective countries to protect their people.

Mr. President, I appreciate very much your presence here. I thank you for your leadership in the hemisphere. I appreciate the advice you have given me on how we can work together to make sure our own neighborhood is secure and peaceful and hopeful. Welcome.

PRESIDENT FERNANDEZ: (As translated.) I thank you very much, Mr. President. It's a pleasure to be here. And I want to thank President Bush for the warm welcome that he has given me, along with my delegation, here to the Oval Office of the White House.

As the President indicated, we have touched on a number of issues of mutual interest to our two countries. First of all, DR-CAFTA; its implementation, hopefully, will take place very soon. We are now in the final phase. This is a bill now before our own congress in the Dominican Republic. We are dealing with some minor legal amendments, and our two teams have been working very hard to obtain a speedy implementation of DR-CAFTA. President Bush and we have agreed to the need to accelerate this process to benefit both our countries.

Second, as President Bush indicated, we have also touched on the issues of disbursements by multilateral institutions. These are extremely important in order to help with the progress of countries like the Dominican Republic to establish confidence, to maintain the confidence in our countries, and also to help us sustain ability of our economies.

The Dominican Republic has agreements with these multilateral institutions, and we hope that they will be honored soon with regard to these disbursements. The sooner they are complied with the better it will be for us.

And third, of course, we have touched on a number of issues such as the issue of drug trafficking, as President Bush mentioned, the issue of crime, the issue of the good relations that we have had for so many years between the United States and the Dominican Republic, the issue of good governance, the issue of respect for human rights, and a number of other things.

It has been a very good meeting.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Gracias por su tiempo.

END 2:27 P.M. EDT

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