View Header


                     Office of the Press Secretary
                           (Santiago, Chile)
For Immediate Release                                     April 19, 1998
                           PRESS BRIEFING BY 
                             The Hyatt Hotel
                             Santiago, Chile         

2:25 P.M. (L)

AMBASSADOR BARSHEFSKY: Let me give you a brief rundown of today, but on something of a more thematic basis since most countries made very much the same comments. We've seen a very important transformation in thinking across the region in the last three and a half years since Miami. Leaders throughout the hemisphere this morning expressed the view that in Miami the FTAA was largely a U.S. idea which they embraced, but with some degree of uncertainty -- something of a leap of faith. Today, the FTAA is embraced by all of the countries without exception as integral to a broader agenda of strong democracies, the alleviation of poverty, and the empowerment of people, and sustainable development.

The most striking thing in the session this morning was to see the unanimity with which the leaders embraced the three-part foundation laid out by President Clinton as early as 1991, and that is fiscal and monetary responsibility and stability; the empowerment of people, particularly with the focus on education and health care; and free trade. This is the agenda the President has laid out repeatedly; it is the three-part agenda that with unanimity the leaders embraced.

So the dialogue this morning focused about the transforming power of trade and economic integration in this broader context. President Caldera of Venezuela talked indeed about how the FTAA will equip this hemisphere to deal with the fact of globalization and as a means of ensuring that globalization works to the benefit of the hemisphere and is a path to progress and growth.

Brazil acknowledged that four years ago the FTAA was a U.S. vision and that, with the three and a half years since Miami and the historic visit of the President to Brazil, the level of trust and view of a shared and common concrete agenda is now established firmly in the hemisphere.

Uruguay noted that 10 or 15 years ago the region was sharply polarized in the following ways: that alongside fledgling democracies you saw dictatorships; open economies and large economies stood next to countries committed to protectionism or central planning; there was a deep North-South divide, largely the product of alliance either with America or with Moscow. Now, he pointed out, free trade and democracy are embraced as companion initiatives, and the articulation of these as companion initiatives was universal among the leaders, and, in addition, the need as democracies to recognize the concerns of our citizens and to recognize the range of stakeholders in the process of this common agenda of trade and democracy.

What we see now, therefore, from the morning session is that the leaders have embraced an agenda that genuinely and for the first time, actually connects the FTAA with civil society reform and investment in people. And in terms of trade subjects most focused on, subjects that were pinpointed were those either not mentioned in Miami or were controversial in Miami. And the three key subjects were services trade, whether financial services, professional services, telecommunications services -- these were barely touched on in Miami -- that was number one.

Number two, the role of information technology and global electronic commerce. This wasn't even on the U.S. agenda in Miami. And, number three, the role of civil society, an acknowledgement by countries as diverse as Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil, Canada, the U.S., that civil society must have confidence that the benefits of democracy and globalization will be jointly shared. Without question, the view of the leaders was that Miami was accepted as faith. The three-pronged agenda -- free trade, fiscal and macrostability and investing in people -- is now accepted as a 21st century reality.

MR. MCLARTY: This summit I think clearly demonstrated that we have moved from the architecture that was put in place in Miami, the celebration of democracy to the hard work of making cooperation work and developing and second generation of reforms affirming the Miami agenda and affirming the first generation of reforms that have taken place and are continuing to take place in the region.

Clearly, I think there was a no backsliding in terms of the commitments made in Miami; in fact, quite the contrary. And I think, importantly, importantly, the level of discussion and interchange reflected a much more mature, a much more confident relationship with the United States and with the international community.

Finally, out of this meeting I think grew a clear consensus of how to move forward this summit process, with the next meeting being held in Canada, and particularly, I think, with many of the programs, they were not only specific in nature, with specific timelines and objectives, but with considerable resources both pledged from individual governments and well as multilateral organizations.

The final note I would make, I think it was also very clear, both in the public sessions and certainly the leaders' private exchanges that Mr. Berger will talk about, is that this administration and this President are committed to sustained engagement in the region given the importance of these issues that provide a real opportunity to change the fundamental character of the relation our country has with the hemisphere and to provide an opportunity for this hemisphere to be a cornerstone for both security and prosperity.

Q What year is Canada?

MR. MCLARTY: The year was not decided.

MR. BERGER: The year was unclear.

Let me quite briefly give you a flavor of the two-hour session the leaders had without the rest of us around. My information is derived from a highly reliable American source who was in the meeting. (Laughter.)

The President said to us that clearly this was the session I think the leaders probably enjoyed the most -- you could see as they came out, very animated. The President said it was a wonderful, open, relaxed discussion, a lot of exchange; some disagreements, but even the disagreements were friendly.

And in the nature of these kinds of discussions, they covered a lot of topics. There was some discussion of the war on drugs, with President Samper saying this is obviously an almost existential threat -- that's not his word -- to Colombia. He said, we're not losing the war on drugs, but we're not winning it, either, and there clearly has to be a concerted international effort.

I should say this parallels a conversation the President had with President Banzer of Bolivia, a pull-aside in between these sessions in which President Banzer made the same point. We are in a war, he said, with the narco traffickers -- apparently, a few Bolivian soldiers killed this weekend -- and he was seeking our help. And he said, we will win this war, but it will not be easy.

The President raised three subjects in his comments. One was to talk further about climate change and the need for developing countries to join with developed countries in a global response, making the point that developing countries have an opportunity to create an economic growth future different than the one that the developed countries undertook, which has been so costly in terms of the environment.

Second, he talked about the importance of the civil society component of the FTAA. There apparently was quite a lively discussion of that issue. Some do not want to see it paralyze the process; how do you reconcile all of these disparate interests, but clearly they're all in agreement that there needs to be and there should be a vehicle as this process provides.

Third, the President raised the issue of the year 2000 computer problem, to put it on the maps of a number of the leaders there, who I think -- my impression -- had not really focused on the problem. That is, the fact that on New Year's Eve in the year 1999, we are all going to become -- go back to the year 1901, at least for our computers.

There was some discussion of Cuba, although I don't think it was a large part of the discussion. The CARICOM countries clearly are most interested in the issue and doing more with Cuba. The President reiterated what he has said before, which is, we have to keep our eye on the goal here of promoting democracy in Cuba, and that whatever they do individually, we should not change the nature of these -- particularly the summit and the OAS process, which are grounded on democracy.

There was some lively discussion of defense modernization in the hemisphere, with an exchange about whether that was good for the hemisphere or not. And I think that pretty much covers all of the topics.

Again, I would say, my impression is that this was a session that the leaders really enjoyed because they could give and take more than in the more formal sessions.


Q Could someone walk us through just what happens, quickly, after the first three years of negotiations in Miami, where do the talks then go to? Do they go to Brazil or Panama -- what is the framework?

AMBASSADOR BARSHEFSKY: The line-up is first three years in Miami; then about a two-year period, slightly less than two years, with the site as Panama. At the close, the site would be Mexico, and it has already agreed that the chairmanship of that will be shared, co-chaired by the United States and Brazil.

Q Now, in the beginning when it's in Miami, is Canada in charge of it?

AMBASSADOR BARSHEFSKY: Canada will be in the chair the first 18 months. I don't believe the next 18 months was settled yet.

Q Did any of the leaders raised the question of the reintegration of Cuba to the OAS?

MR. BERGER: Not as far as I know.

Q Sandy, did the President have any reaction to the release of Wang Dan? And, if not, was it part of a deal to pave the way for the summit in June in China?

MR. BERGER: Well, both the President and others who have been engaged in this are enormously pleased by Wang Dan's release. This is something that we have been advocating, working for, for a very long time. In fact, it is part of a long-term effort, as you know, that we've been engaged in to try to make progress on human rights in China, which has produced some concrete results.

Before the summit the Chinese agreed to sign the economic covenant. As you know, a month or so ago they agreed, quite significantly, to sign the U.N. Covenant on Political Rights. There have been a number of prisoner releases, Wei Jingsheng and Wang Dan now added to that list, but others as well -- names that we have continually raised with the Chinese.

With respect to their prison system, they are in talks now with the ICRC. We are anticipating an exchange of U.S. and Chinese officials involving prisons. The U.N. working group on arbitrary detention has been permitted to visit the Chinese prisons. The NGO forum that we asked the Chinese to set up between our human rights and the Chinese, they've agreed to.

Now, these are all positive developments. There is still a very long way to go in terms of China abiding by universal human rights principles, particularly in the area of political dissent and freedom of expression. And we will continue to work on these issues very hard with the Chinese.

What we are seeking is systemic change. That's why, for example, the Covenant on Political Rights is so important, because it sets up an international process which allows groups to go in and examine and write reports; requires the Chinese to actually account for themselves. And we will continue this step-by-step process as we move forward.

As to the second question, was there any deal here in connection with moving up the summit, the answer is, no. We moved up the summit based upon a judgment that we made that as a result of the summit in October, and clearly an improvement that has taken place in our relationship, that an earlier summit had the possibility of being more productive.

Q Sandy, is there anything concretely that the President is going to take with him when he goes to Bejing at the end of June that will show an improvement in U.S. ties?

And, Ambassador Barshefsky, I believe you're going there soon, as well. Will you be talking about WTO membership?

MR. BERGER: Well, let me answer that in general and then Charlene can answer the trade part of it. We have worked across a broad spectrum of issues to try to both increase the areas of our cooperation and confront the areas of difference.

In the proliferation area, for example, as a result of the summit in October when President Jiang came to the United States, the Chinese agreed to not provide further cooperation to the Iranian nuclear program. That was an important step forward. We're working with China on energy and the environmental issues and trying to -- environment being more people die of respiratory related diseases in China than any other cause. We have a lot of technology and know-how in terms of dealing with those issues. That's the second area.

We've obviously been discussing with them very frankly our human rights concerns and seeking progress in that area. There's the trade area that Charlene will talk about. We now have a rule of law project that we are working on with the Chinese in which we hopefully will be exchanging officials from our governments -- experts, law experts on law reform, on judicial reform -- so that we can help to intensify that process in China.

And as for the June summit, we will be moving forward on all of these tracks and other tracks to continue to expand our areas of cooperation -- for example, another area being in Korea, and to be very frank and forthright and candid about areas of differences, such as human rights. And I think the release of Wang Dan suggests that our continuing drumbeat on the subject of human rights does have an impact.

Q When are you going and will you be talking about WTO membership? And can that be something that the President will be announcing?

AMBASSADOR BARSHEFSKY: May I first go back to the preceding question -- I apologize. The line-up on FTAA is as follows: Canada chairs the first 18 months, followed by Argentina for about 18 months, followed by Ecuador for a shorter period, followed by a U.S.-Brazil co-chair for the last two and a half years. That co-chair, as we've pointed out, is extremely important because it will ensure that the FTAA comes into fruition and that there is no backsliding.

On the question of China, I do anticipate going to China, perhaps as early as this week. You know that the President and President Jiang at the summit in Washington achieved some important progress with respect to China's commitment to join the Information Technology Agreement, when previously it had said that it would not reduce to zero any tariffs in any areas, particularly on information technology. They achieved progress also with respect to several other market access issues.

In November, when President Clinton and President Jiang met again in their bilateral at the APEC meetings, we made some additional important progress with respect to tariff reductions, reductions on non-tariff barriers, and some associated areas.

Following that, China slowed down somewhat the pace of the talks, perhaps also in part in response to the Asian crisis. I do intend to go and to discuss with my counterparts China's intentions at this point with respect to WTO accession. They know quite clearly, and as we have said repeatedly, we would welcome China's early admission to the WTO, but only on the basis of a commercially meaningful agreement. This is also the view of China's other major trading partners, including the European Union.

Q Do you think you would have achieved so much progress --

MR. BERGER: Let's see if we can do the China questions, then we can go back to the --

Q It's related to China. Do you think you would have achieved so much progress in China if you didn't have this constructive dialogue, critical dialogue -- and if it's so productive, why don't you have it with Cuba?

MR. BERGER: Well, I think there's a few answers to that question. I think first the Castro regime now has been in power for 37 years. Even the Pope, apparently, has had very little durable impact on political reform there.

We had a policy enacted under the Bush administration, embodied by the Cuban Democracy Act, which we supported very strongly, which basically said, as Cuba moved toward political and economic reform, then the United States would move to political and economic reform. I believe that was passed in 1992.

The first response was a shootdown of our planes -- perhaps not the first response, but there were very few -- there's no positive response to that, when the United States, Democrats and Republicans, embraced that policy. Instead, our planes were shot down and there's been further repression.

So I think there's very little evidence, as I said here yesterday, that engagement with the Cuban government, as opposed to reaching out to the Cuban people would be productive.

Q Mr. Berger, on the item of armed forces modernization, could you give us a sense of who participated, what leaders participated and what was said?

MR. BERGER: I think there was a discussion -- Sanguinetti and Frei, I believe, were engaged in a discussion of arms sales. And I don't really want to describe too much more what they've said. You can go to their people.

Q I have a question for Mack. How comfortable is the President with these negotiations starting in Miami and no fast track? How comfortable is he with this situation?

MR. MCLARTY: I think the President is comfortable with and, indeed, believes this launch will be a very successful one. Ambassador Barshefsky said earlier, and I fully agree -- and more importantly, the President agrees -- the United States is very well-positioned on this launch.

In fact, I think there has been a deeper and broader consensus reached than many would have thought would have been the case. And the fact that the United States and Brazil will be co-chairing in the final three years of the negotiations I think is a particularly important element in bringing together an agreement in 2005.

I think finally, John -- and Charlene will want to add to this -- I think much like the Uruguay Round, negotiations can be launched; at some point you will need fast track authority to conclude them.

MR. BERGER: I wanted to echo something Charlene said earlier. The commitment of the people around that table to this process really struck me as something quite extraordinary. I did not anticipate seeing that. More than one of them made the point that globalization is not a choice; globalization is a fact, we've got to deal with it and we want to -- we know we have to deal with it by trade integration and the social contract. And so I think there is enormous momentum for these negotiations coming out of here.

Q At what point do you need to have fast track?

MR. BERGER: Well, the point at which key decisions have to be made.

AMBASSADOR BARSHEFSKY: Let me just add a point. This issue of fast track came up in the context of discussions of a number of countries and the theme of each -- and by each I'm talking now Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada -- the theme of each was, well, of course, we're going to go ahead because, of course, you're going to have fast track.

In other words, the view is, as in the Uruguay Round -- remember, they're thinking about what happened in the Uruguay Round -- as you make progress, fast track will be enacted. And this was a view expressed by all of these countries very explicitly. The same view was echoed by many other countries not quite as explicitly -- which is to say they didn't want to mention the phrase "fast track."

I would add one other thing. You have to remember the fast track vote was postponed, but it was very close. There's an overwhelming majority in the Senate. The issue, even in the House, is a very close one. The economic reality, as we have said time and again, is that over a third of U.S. economic growth the last five years came from exports and from the 250-plus market access agreements that we've done around the world.

Many leaders noted that as you look at the Asian crisis, the issue of hemispheric integration becomes all the more important because in our hemisphere we are each other's most critical trading partners. And that needs to be reinforced, if you will, as a mutual insurance policy against the bad times, and, of course, the upside is tremendous in the good times.

So I think we feel very, very good, very confident about this launch, as, literally, did every other country around the table today.

Q Sandy, how did you interpret the Brazilian President's comments at the end of his remarks on Cuba?

MR. BERGER: His remarks on Cuba where?

Q At the end of his remarks.

MR. BERGER: I think that he was saying -- you said the Brazilian's remarks or the Chilean's remarks?

MR. MCLARTY: I think his remarks at the end of the session, which we may not have heard.

Q After the signing.

MR. BERGER: After the signing? I don't know what he said, so I have a hard time commenting on them. I can tell you what he said -- what the conversation was one-on-one in the bilateral in which he basically said that we have the same objective, which is democracy in Cuba, and that they felt very strongly about that, as we did. They may pursue it through different means than we do, but that clearly is the basic objective of Brazilian policy. I don't know what he said.

I would point out that Mercosur, which includes the Brazilians very prominently, has a clause in it which would basically expel countries that were in Mercosur who became non-democracies, having been democracies. And I think that speaks quite strongly about their commitment here.

Q Mr. McLarty, we are told that you're going to leave the White House to go back to the private sector. I want to know if that is true. And second, if it is true, if there is going to be a replacement -- in charge of Latin America.

MR. MCLARTY: Well, I'm glad you're looking to the future of hemispheric relations in this briefing. (Laughter.) I have not discussed any future plans with the President. Obviously, my attentions and energies were focused on this summit, and I think that was a proper place for them to be focused. They will now be focused on certainly following up on the discussions, agreements, and the broad-based initiatives that came out of this summit. At some point in time I will deal with my decision in terms of returning to the private sector, which at some point I certainly will do.

MR. BERGER: I want to add something to this, if I can. Not to prejudge Mack's future decision, but I really want to emphasize what an instrumental role he has played in putting this summit together. Sitting next to Mack at one of these summits -- I said to him, I feel like I've gone back to the Philippines with McArthur. People came up to him from presidents to foreign ministers to trade ministers to deputy trade ministers to deputy deputy trade ministers, and said how important he had been to the success of this summit. And much to my admiration, he actually introduced those that I didn't know to me by name. I mean, he knew my name -- he knew their name, too. (Laughter.)

Q Question on the -- while we're celebrating democracy here, in Paraguay there was a change in the candidacy of the governing party and that appeared to be -- I think there were previous comments about that. Could you elaborate on what our stand is?

MR. BERGER: This is something that has come up quite frequently in discussions over the last two days. As you know, the Supreme Court on Thursday or Friday -- Saturday -- Friday, Saturday, a few days ago -- ruled five to four to uphold General Oviedo's conviction, which means that he cannot be a candidate in the upcoming election.

We had said before and continue to say, as most of Paraguay's neighbors have said, the important thing is to maintain the constitutional process, to stay with democracy and perhaps the upholding of this conviction makes that somewhat easier.

MR. MCLARTY: Sandy, the only thing I would add, we talk about these concepts of hemispheric cooperation, I think constitutional crisis in Paraguay a couple of years ago was an example, a very good example of cooperation with the Mercusor countries and the United States. I think the peace on the Peru-Ecuador border with a hopeful settlement in the not too distant future is another example of that.

MR. TOIV: Thank you.

END 2:58 P.M. (L)