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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 30, 1996

Guatemala Peace Accords

The President today offered his congratulations to President Alvaro Arzu and the people of Guatemala as they celebrated the signature of a final peace accord ending Guatemala's 36-year internal conflict. The President called the peace accord "a credit to the leadership of President Arzu and an example of the vital role that the United Nations can play." The President also expressed appreciation for the active role that the government of Mexico, as host of the negotiations, has played in bringing about the settlement.

The final accord signed today in Guatemala City, witnessed by a high-level U.S. delegation led by Special Envoy for the Americas Mack McLarty, is the culmination of a series of agreements that together constitute a blueprint for a reformed political, economic and social structure in Guatemala. The accord promises respect for basic human rights and establishes a framework for coming to terms with the abuses of the past. Full implementation of the peace accord will help transform Guatemala from one of Latin America's poorest countries into a stable, democratic nation poised to take advantage of new opportunities for hemispheric trade and development. It will also bring to an end Central America's last and longest-running internal conflict.

As a member of the Group of Friends of the Guatemala peace process, the United States worked closely with the other Friends to support United Nations mediation to end the conflict. This combined effort brought to bear the full weight of the international community to support the commitment of President Arzu and the URNG guerrillas to reach a negotiated settlement. The United Nations has also worked through its Human Rights Monitoring Mission to help improve respect for human rights, prevent intimidation and increase public confidence in the peace process. In this regard, the Guatemala peace accord is both a UN success story and an example of the benefits of sustained U.S. diplomatic engagement.

On this important day, the United States joins in welcoming Guatemala to our hemispheric community of democracies at peace.

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