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                       Office of the Press Secretary
                    (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts)

For Immediate Release August 4, 2000


I am pleased to announce I will travel on August 30 to Colombia to meet with President Andres Pastrana and to personally underscore America's support for Colombia's efforts to seek peace, fight illicit drugs, build its economy, and deepen democracy. I am delighted that Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senator Joe Biden, two longtime champions of peace and democracy in Colombia, will join me on the trip.

Colombia's success is profoundly in the interest of the United States. A peaceful, democratic, and economically prosperous Colombia will help to promote democracy and stability throughout the hemisphere.

I have also signed a Presidential Decision Directive ordering, as a matter of national priority, an intensified effort to aid the Colombian government in implementing Plan Colombia -- President Pastrana's bold plan to build a better future for his country.

The Presidential Decision Directive complements and supports the $1.3 billion assistance package that I requested from Congress, and that Democrats and Republicans passed in a bipartisan spirit last month. The cornerstone of our Colombia Initiative, this supplemental includes a ten-fold increase in U.S. funds to promote good government, judicial reform, human rights protection, and economic development in Colombia. It will help Colombia strengthen its democracy while helping the government staunch the flow of drugs to our shores.

This Directive, along with the sharp increase in funding from Congress, will intensify our efforts to help the Colombian government implement its comprehensive national strategy. It is the right way to advance America's interests in the region, and I am proud of the bipartisan effort that has made it possible.