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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 28, 1998


In their second meeting since President Pastrana's election last June, President Clinton and President Pastrana consolidated a comprehensive partnership between their two governments designed to promote democracy and economic growth, fight illicit drugs, strengthen respect for human rights, extend the rule of law, and help bring an end to Colombia's armed conflict. Toward these ends, President Clinton pledged over $280 million in new assistance to Colombia, to be made available in the course of the current fiscal year. President Clinton noted that the scope of this assistance, which is more than double that of last year, makes it by far the largest American assistance program for the hemisphere. This assistance is indicative of the strong bipartisan support, in the Congress as well as his Administration, for Colombia and its new leadership.

The two Presidents agreed on the importance of increased trade and investment in sustaining growth, reducing poverty, and permitting societies to meet the aspirations of their people. They expressed support for the establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005, while also noting the continuing importance of the Andean Trade Preferences in promoting economic growth throughout that region, and underpinning the viability of alternative development programs. They initiated consultations on a Bilateral Investment Treaty, and agreed to conclude with the other countries concerned the creation of a Trade and Investment Council for the Andean region. They welcomed the expanded activities of the Export Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in support of United States/Colombian trade and investment. President Clinton offered and President Pastrana accepted a program of technical assistance by the United States Treasury, with funding from United States Agency for International Development, for the financial sector. The Presidents agreed to work to create the fair and equitable conditions necessary to implement an Open Skies regime, and to conclude a new bilateral aviation agreement as soon as possible. President Pastrana welcomed the forthcoming visit of United States Commerce Secretary Daley to further expand cooperation in the fields of trade and investment.

The two Presidents signed an Alliance Against Drugs committing their nations to use all means at their disposal to stem narcotics production, trafficking, consumption and related crimes. They agreed that education, prevention, law enforcement, judicial action, extradition of narco-traffickers, aerial and other forms of eradication, alternative development and efforts to end armed conflict are all essential elements in an overall strategy to combat illegal drugs. They looked forward to the early completion of a customs mutual assistance agreement. They called for greater international efforts, and welcomed the work underway through the Organization of American States to forge a hemispheric alliance, and to establish a multilateral process to monitor and evaluate national as well as collective performance toward agreed goals.

President Clinton expressed admiration and support for President Pastrana's efforts, based upon democracy and the rule of law, to establish a dialogue with Colombia's insurgent groups, to initiate a peace process, and to seek an end to many decades of armed conflict. President Clinton pledged to work with other international donors to mobilize substantial additional resources to support implementation of the peace process, to promote programs for internally displaced persons, to give financial and technical support to a program of alternative development, and to thereby promote reconciliation within a democratic society of laws. The two Presidents agreed that concrete action on the part of insurgent groups to cease hostage taking and other forms of terrorism, to cut their ties to narcotrafficking, to respect international humanitarian law and to join the fight against illicit drugs will be the test of their sincerity and genuine interest in peace.

The two Presidents shared a commitment to a cleaner environment and sustainable development. They welcomed the signing of a "GLOBE" agreement to link schools and education together through the Internet for environmental work. President Pastrana expressed appreciation for the provision of Visiting Fellowships by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for the study of watershed management.

The two Presidents agreed that respect for human rights was at the core of their effort to promote peace, extend the rule of law, and strengthen democratic institutions. They welcomed the completion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Colombia and United States Agency for International Development establishing a program for the training and support for the Colombian judiciary. They welcomed the signing of a forfeited-assets sharing arrangement that will direct forfeitures to Colombian counternarcotics law enforcement efforts. They also attached special importance to the establishment between the two Defense Ministries of a Bilateral Working Group that will establish and oversee a program of support and training for the military justice system.

In order to manage and extend their comprehensive partnership, the two Presidents established a high-level Joint Consultative Group, led by the United States State Department and Colombian Foreign Ministry, with senior representation from all the other affected cabinet agencies, which will meet on a regular basis. Acting Assistant Secretary Romero will lead a U.S. team to Colombia in early November to agree upon a work program for the Group, and to consult on the peace process.