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U.S. Department of State
96/02/26 Briefing: Secretary & Central American Heads of State
Office of the Spokesman

                      U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                       Office of the Spokesman 
                    (San Salvador, El Salvador) 
For Immediate Release                               February 26, 1996 
                       PRESS AVAILABILITY WITH  
                        Casa Presidencial 
                   San Salvador, El Salvador 
PRESIDENT ARMANDO CALDERON SOL (as translated by interpreter):  First of 
all, I want to say that El Salvador is honored by the visit of the Heads 
of State of Central America, the Prime Minister of Belize, and the 
Secretary of State of the United States.  For El Salvador and for its 
people, this is a momentous occasion.  We believe that our peace 
process, our democracy, are the basis for their presence with us here 
today.  This has been a very fruitful meeting for Central America.  We 
have discussed the salient points that are on the agenda, not only for 
our region, but also for the entire world.  Central America, as a whole 
at this meeting, has condemned the violence that was used in the 
shooting down of the two civilian aircraft by the Cuban military this 
week.  We have been unanimous in supporting President Clinton's decisive 
action in going to the United Nations to seek redress for these actions.  
This has been an example for the entire world.  The fact that problems 
can be solved through international law, and as we know, the deaths of 
these civilians violates international law. This has properly been 
managed through the United Nations. 
We have expressed our solidarity with the position adopted by the people 
and the Government of the United States.  Among other subjects discussed 
was that of trade parity and the need that Central America and the 
Caribbean have to obtain a system of NAFTA parity for our international 
trade.  Otherwise, we find ourselves at a very great disadvantage vis-a-
vis our neighbors.  Our region needs to generate more employment, 
something which can be achieved through free trade.  We need a positive 
response and this is a positive response that we have heard today from 
the Secretary of State on behalf of the United States.  We hope this 
response will become a reality very soon.  
Another important subject we dealt with today was that of immigration.  
We received assurances from the Secretary of State that there will be no 
massive deportations of foreign citizens in the United States.  We also 
discussed the need for our brothers and sisters of Central America to 
see the United States follow programs of social and cultural struggle 
against the anti-immigration feelings that have appeared in certain 
sectors of that country.  The Secretary has expressed to us that he is 
equally concerned in this regard. 
Another subject of conversation was that of drug trafficking and the 
need to fortify all of Central America politically and we need to do 
this through properly trained police forces that will be able to fight 
crime, corruption, and drugs. 
Another subject of discussion on the agenda were other kinds of 
cooperation that we can achieve with the United States of America.  
Today we were able to hold a very important meeting and we want to thank 
everyone involved, in particular the Secretary of State for his presence 
here today. 
And now, the Secretary of State of the United States of America. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Good afternoon, first I want to thank President 
Calderon Sol for hosting this very useful and important meeting, and 
also thank the other Central American leaders who were good enough to 
come here to San Salvador to join me in this session. President Calderon 
Sol has given you a rather full account of the session that we had, so 
it enables me to shorten the remarks that I might otherwise need to 
As the President said, we had a good discussion of the brutal shootdown 
of the two unarmed civilian aircraft over international waters by the 
Cuban military on Saturday.  I appreciate very much the statement that 
the President has made on behalf of his Central American colleagues. 
There is no question in my mind that this was an utterly lawless act, 
completely unjustified.  I reject the very weak explanations that the 
Cubans have been giving.  As the European Union said, there simply is no 
justification for what they've done.  As you probably know in the press, 
President Clinton has just announced a series of immediate steps that 
will be taken. They are steps that are appropriate, yet firm.  They deal 
with the situation in a way that, I think, you will regard as 
responsible for the President of one of the superpowers.  As the 
President said, he will not rule out further steps, but for the time 
being we are going to emphasize strongly action of the United Nations 
which is pending here as we speak.  I was very gratified by the comments 
that were made by the President of El Salvador on that subject. 
Now, as the President said, we discussed a number of other topics and 
worked together to advance our common goals.  First, and I know of great 
interest in this region, I announced this morning that President Clinton 
will present in his March budget proposal an interim trade program for 
countries that are part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, the CBI.  
This program will expand the range of products involved beyond those 
that are already involved with the CBI, including such products as 
apparel, and textiles, and shoes.  This will, no doubt, if and when 
enacted, help the economies of Central America and the Caribbean to make 
the transition to open markets by the year 2005.  It will certainly 
expand opportunities, both for the United States and the countries of 
the Central American region, as good for them and as good for us. 
Second, the United States pledged to intensify its cooperation with 
Central America against international criminals and narcotic 
traffickers.  I proposed that we open discussions next month with the 
Central American countries to discuss concrete steps that we can take 
with respect to the assets of criminals and drug traffickers, and ways 
to improve our enforcement cooperation.  I will be sending a team to 
this region to have discussions with your law enforcement officials.  
One of the things that I heard in the meeting today was the high 
importance of professionalizing the police in this region and we'll see 
if we can't find ways to help the nations of the region do so. 
Third, we agreed that there are new joint efforts required to deal with 
the growing problem of smugglers who traffic in migrants who want to 
work in another country.  We talked about ways to deal with this really 
quite horrific conduct and I hope we can be successful in this regard.  
Finally, we talked about ways to protect the environment and to pursue 
sustainable development.  The United States will spend almost $25 
million on projects for the environment in Central America in the next 
year, and I think this gives us a way to deepen our already good 
I want to thank again President Calderon Sol and his colleagues for the 
steps we have taken today to deepen our partnership to increase our 
mutual respect and to carry out items in our shared interests.  Mr. 
President, colleagues, thank you very much. 
QUESTION (from reporter, as translated by Interpreter):  It was just 
said that President Clinton has adopted a number of sanctions with 
regard to what has happened in Cuba.  What effect do you think that 
these steps are going to have; have you ruled out the possibility of any 
military action, and what measures are you expecting the United Nations 
to take? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There are a number of questions there, aren't 
there?  The United States hopes and expects that the Cuban Government 
will agree to pay compensation to the families of the four individuals 
who were killed, and also that the Government of Cuba will agree not to 
take any further action of this kind with respect to unarmed civilian 
planes flying over its territory.  In short, we would expect Cuba to 
reaffirm its commitment to international law, which it has so blatantly 
violated.  The President has not included any military actions in 
connection with the items that he outlined today, but he has quite 
deliberately reserved the possibility of further steps in the future.  
Finally, the matter is pending in the United Nations and we are some 
distance from there, but I would hope and expect the United Nations 
Security Council to condemn the violent action that has been taken in a 
really blatant violation of international law.  And I would hope that 
the United Nations would do this at an early date, and also perhaps move 
beyond that, to take some action to express its abhorrence over what 
Cuba has done in this lawless way.  But those negotiations are going on 
in the United Nations and I don't want to try to micro-manage them from 
this distance. 
QUESTION:  Mr. Christopher, we'd like to know if the U.S. Government is 
going to redefine its economic policy towards Latin America, and if it 
is contemplating any sanctions against those countries that have 
relations with Cuba? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I guess the rule here is that the visitor who 
comes from the farthest distance gets the questions.  We redefined our 
policy toward Latin America in an important way today, and that is 
President Clinton has taken a step to effectuate an announcement he made 
earlier and that is to provide NAFTA parity to the countries of the 
Central American region who are part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative.  
That's a very important change in what we are doing.  The President's 
willingness is to put that bill before the Congress, and to be able to 
round up the necessary offsets, that is, to find the necessary funds to 
compensate for the reduction of tarrifs, which is a very big and 
important step.  Also, the broadening of this initiative is a very 
significant step to try to improve trade in this region, and to create 
jobs both in our country and in your country.  I would say that's the 
most important action that has been taken today to redefine our economic 
policy toward this region, or perhaps I should say confirm and 
effectuate our policy with respect to this region. 
INTERPRETER:  The President of Honduras has to leave at this time and 
because we are running out of time, we are going to have to shorten the 
list of questions that we will be able to take.  We will receive one 
final question now.  Mr. Steven Hurst, of CNN. 
QUESTION:  President Calderon Sol, you praise the United States for 
taking this whole issue through the United Nations, saying that it was 
an example for the rest of the world.  I am wondering what you think the 
United Nations can actually do that would dissuade Cuba from doing such 
things again. 
PRESIDENT CALDERON SOL (as translated by interpreter):  As I said 
before, I think that this has served as a great example for the entire 
world.  We have seen a super-power go to the international forum of the 
United Nations and base itself on international law in order to seek 
redress.  This is something that strengthens the entire United Nations 
system, and that is why I stressed it.  I believe that the United 
Nations can condemn and can call on the international community to stop 
Cuba from repeating an action like this again in the future.  Civilian 
aircraft were shot down, civilian lives were lost as a result of this 
lawless action.  I think that in the worst of cases, these aircraft 
could have been caught and could have been taken to Cuba, but there was 
no need to kill anyone, and that is why we have condemned this 
INTERPRETER:  This is our last question.  We'd said we'd take two 
questions from the Salvadoran Press and two from the Foreign Press.  
This is the last question then for the Foreign Press. 
QUESTION:  Could I ask one of the Central American presidents, how much 
confidence they have that the expansion of the Caribbean Basin 
Initiative will be approved and benefit them, given that there have been 
earlier attempts by the Administration which have not been fruitful in 
PRESIDENT CALDERON SOL (as translated by interpreter):  We believe that 
the expression made by the Clinton Administration is a brave one.  It is 
a demonstration of the Clinton Administration's will to achieve NAFTA 
parity for Central America and the Caribbean.  We admire this action as 
it comes at this political juncture.  President Clinton has gallantly 
espoused this cause at a very difficult political time.  We are then 
going to be in the hands of Congress.  We are not absolutely confident 
that the measure is going to pass right away, necessarily this year, but 
we are fully confident in the will of the Clinton Administration to push 
this initiative through.  If it is not passed now, be believe it will be 
passed after this political moment is over and we take it as a 
demonstration of the will and respect shown by the Clinton 
Administration toward this region, and we thank him for it. 
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