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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 26, 1997
                      IN STATE ARRIVAL CEREMONY

The South Lawn

10:16 A.M. EST

PRESIDENT CLINTON: President Frei, Mrs. Frei, members of the Chilean delegation, distinguished guests: On behalf of the American people, I am delighted to welcome President Frei back to the United States and to return the warm hospitality the people of Chile showed to the First Lady when she visited there two years ago.

Today the countries of our hemisphere stand together facing a new era. Never have the Americas been more free or more prosperous. Never have we had a better opportunity to create a community of nations united by shared values and common purpose. Now, by acting together to deepen our democracy, to spur economic growth, to strengthen our partnership, the United States and Chile can bring concrete benefits to our own people, to all the Americas and to the world, and fulfill the promise of our times.

Chile's return to democracy, a heroic and courageous struggle, has helped to fuel freedom's march all across our hemisphere. Its economic reforms have set the standard for success throughout our region with impressive growth, unmatched financial stability and high rates of job creation, and the reduction of poverty.

During the last three years, Mr. President, your determination to expand opportunity at home and forge new links abroad has displayed the power of open societies and open markets to lift the lives of our people. The friendship we celebrate today has its roots in the fight for freedom that gave birth to both our countries. Almost two centuries ago, in 1811, that shared heritage was reflected in Chile's decision to hold its first National Congress on July 4th, the anniversary of our own independence.

Now our ties are bearing fruit in a growing partnership that advances our ideals and our interests. Just as we joined hands to help peace take hold in El Salvador, we are working side be side to keep peace on the border between Peru and Ecuador, and to help them reach a lasting settlement. Together we are striving to follow the road map set by our hemisphere's 34 democracies in the Miami Summit of the Americas in 1994. We are working to make trade in the Americas more free and fair, the key to jobs and growth and opportunity for all our people in the next century. And by advancing human rights, fighting drugs and protecting the air and the water we share, we are proving that democracies deliver.

And now our sights are set on the second summit, which Chile will host in March of 1998. We must consolidate the historic advance of the Americas from dictatorship, war, and command economies to democracy, cooperation, and open markets.

Mr. President, almost 30 years ago your father, President Eduardo Frei Montalva, said, "Great perspectives will open before us if we are united." Today the United States and Chile are united and we can see great new horizons of hope all across our hemisphere.

We must take advantage of this historic opportunity to advance into the future together, making the success of our efforts to promote peace and freedom and prosperity in the Americas a model for all the world.

PRESIDENT FREI: Dear Mr. President Clinton, Mrs. Clinton, United States authorities, Chilean authorities, I thank you for your warm welcome and for your message of hope. I come from a country far away that stretches from its northern deserts all the way to Antarctica, from the Andes to the sea. When it was first discovered, it was known as the ends of the earth. We are a people comprised of miners and poets, of farmers and professors, of priests, soldiers, and traders, of earthquakes and human joys. We relish our freedom. We share with you, Mr. President, a history that has been fortunate in part, and also an unquenchable faith in better times still to come.

It is not enough to be witness of two periods of time that come to an end, like the century and the millennium. It is not enough to enjoy the relief that comes from threats that have lifted, like that of a nuclear holocaust. We cannot go on proclaiming the end of the Cold War. We must get down to the business of building solid democracies that are deeply rooted in the customs and in the people.

There is no time to lose in our striving together for peace wherever violence still prevails. We cannot rest until the respect for the people's dignity and the rights of the individual are extended throughout the whole world. What we need immediately is for our economies to flourish in full freedom, a freedom that allows us to produce and to trade as if there were no frontiers. What we need is for education to become the measure of solidarity among peoples and for no child to be deprived of schooling.

As in all times of change, there are certain things we wish to keep and to strengthen, others we want to put right, and some we must be able to reinvent. We have old fears and jealousies to surmount, bureaucracies that need to be aired out, no more competition without cooperation. Above all, our vision of the future has to be grounded firmly in our freedom -- freedom in politics, freedom in economy, freedom in culture. This will be the force to break the deep inertia of the last 50 years.

Our real challenge, however, lies in what we have still to do, not in what we leave believe behind us. Indeed, Mr. President, the great challenge is to build bridges. We need a bridge between the enormous capacity we have developed to produce food and the hunger that afflicts millions upon millions. We need a new bridge to make sure that the vast store of knowledge we have gathered can reach those who still live in ignorance. We need a new bridge to bring to justice both corrupters and corrupted, in all forms of trafficking, from drugs to nefarious influences. We need a new bridge to connect all development to respect for the ecology of the planet, a new bridge leading to an improved life for our cities, a new bridge to allow for free commerce among all peoples.

We know well enough that these are not simple projects. There's no such thing as an instant democracy. Nor does a free market economy spring automatically into being. Corruption is not stopped by decree, nor terrorism by promises. Good will alone will not build the bridges we need. We have a huge task ahead of us -- a task that challenges our creativity, our constant application, and our nerve. We have to be able to shape the politics of the 21st century now -- a politics in which words and action have the same meaning.

The Summit of all of the Americas which took place in Miami was the foundation stone for the Americas of tomorrow -- the free Americas -- sister states without frontiers. The next Summit of the Americas will take place in Santiago, Chile, in March of 1998. And nothing will obstruct the progress of that free movement we have entered into together.

I welcomed your invitation, Mr. President, because I know we will be discussing these matters with a common urgency to press forward. I know, too, that when a large country and a small country share the same values and work together in accordance with these values, they can be equal partners. For that reason I have come enthusiastically and full of optimism.

I especially appreciate the fact that you invite me early in your second term of office as you seek to confirm your friendship toward Chile and all the Americas. I know that we will be discussing with all the frankness of free people the problems and the dreams of Chile and the United States, and that we will be looking together at what is happening in the world. I know we will be able to solve persisting problems and, above all, to share in the making of a tomorrow that is ever more free.

Once again, my thanks to you, Mr. President, to you, Mrs. Clinton, and to the people of the United States for such warm and generous friendship. (Applause.)

END 10:37 A.M. EST