THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
State Visit of President Menem of Argentina
President Clinton met today with President Carlos Menem of Argentina. The President paid tribute to President Menem for his role in consolidating democracy and open markets in Argentina, promoting economic integration and cooperation in South America and leading the way toward a new relationship between the United States and Latin America. Argentina has assumed a seat on the United Nations Security Council, will chair the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) process for two years beginning November 1999 and has played a leadership role in global climate change negotiations. In this context, the two leaders had a fruitful exchange on a wide range of global and international issues as well as a discussion of our bilateral relations.
The meeting between the two Presidents was their fourth in the last two years and highlighted the close and beneficial partnership that has developed between the United States and Argentina. We have cooperated to address key challenges in many areas including climate change, resolving hemispheric conflicts such as the now settled border dispute between Ecuador and Peru, combating terrorism, and containing the effects of global financial turbulence. Discussion of these and other issues will continue in the 2nd Special Consultative Process to be hosted by Secretary Albright on January 12. The two Presidents established this group in 1997.
The President praised Argentine participation in UN peacekeeping. He noted that Argentina has taken the toughest assignments -- including sending detachments to Haiti, Cyprus and the former-Yugoslavia -- and contributes more personnel to UN peacekeeping than any other Western Hemisphere nation. The President designated Argentina a Major Non-NATO Ally in 1997 because of that country's peacekeeping involvement and we have supported Argentina's peacekeeping capability through funding and equipment assistance. The President was pleased that the United States would provide a Coast Guard patrol boat, a Coast Guard buoy tender and a TA-4J flight simulator. The Administration is also notifying Congress of its intent to make available from excess U.S. military stocks 900 Light Anti-Tank Weapons (LAWs) for force protection use by Argentine peacekeepers.
Representatives of the two governments also will sign agreements on military acquisition and servicing and information security. These agreements will facilitate our support of future Argentine peacekeeping deployments. This year the United States will again provide assistance to Argentina's regional peacekeeping training center, which is a widely recognized model for emulation elsewhere. The meeting also highlighted Argentina's significant contributions to international civilian police efforts, both in regional training and in contributions to UN civilian police monitoring operations.
The two leaders discussed our joint efforts to address global climate change by building upon the work of the recent Fourth Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention held in Buenos Aires last November. The President and the Vice President praised Argentina's leadership in committing to take on a greenhouse gas emissions target.
The Department of Education and its Argentine counterpart are entering into a Declaration of Intent which will set up a framework for cooperation in areas ranging from educational standards to teacher training and human resource development.
The Presidents also reviewed the international economic picture. The President praised Argentina's sound macro-economic management and open markets as the foundation for its continued growth and ability to maintain investor confidence during last year's market turbulence. Both Presidents reaffirmed their commitment to work to realize the goal of creating the FTAA.
The Presidents acknowledged the importance of air traffic to the development of the trade and economic relationship between their countries. In that spirit, they instructed that the U.S. and Argentine negotiators should seek to conclude an Open-Skies air services agreement when they meet in Buenos Aires in March 1999 that incorporates a reasonable transition period and opportunities for marketing arrangements (code-sharing) among airlines. They agreed that this transition period to Open Skies, to begin in January 2000, must enhance competition and, at each step, allow greater access to carriers of both countries to the growing air traffic market. Foreign investment plays an increasing role in the aviation industry. Both sides agreed that the United States and Argentina should reach an understanding on foreign investment in aviation that is compatible with the laws and policies of both countries.
President Menem informed President Clinton on his recent trip to Great Britain and the President noted with appreciation the steady improvement in relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
The Presidents discussed the scourge of international terrorism, which has inflicted tragic losses on both countries. The President applauded Argentina's initiative at the Second Specialized Conference on Terrorism, hosted by Argentina last November, on the creation of a standing Inter-American Committee on Terrorism. The United States has offered to host the first meeting of the Committee should the Organization of American States authorize its creation.
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