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U.S. Department of State
96/02/28 Press Conference with Chilean ForMin Insulza
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release February 28, 1996
PRESS CONFERENCE GIVEN BY
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
AND FOREIGN MINISTER INSULZA
Palacio de La Moneda
February 28, 1996
INTRODUCTION: (Moderator) (unofficial translation) Good morning. For
the press conference, there will be a brief introduction, a brief
statement by both ministers, and we will then move on to the questions
in order. (Foreign) Minister Jose Miguel Insulza will begin.
FOREIGN MINISTER INSULZA: (unofficial translation) Good morning. I only
want to say, in the first place, that we had with the Secretary of State
this morning some very important discussions regarding the range of
issues in our relationship, our engagement in the hemisphere and on a
number of themes relating to world politics that we wanted to discuss.
First, however, the first point that is important to make is the
extremely positive appraisal we both have of the state of our bilateral
relations in the hemispheric context. We want to say we share with the
Secretary of State the belief that the relation between Chile and the
United States is experiencing one of the best periods in its history.
This goes beyond words, and is reflected in the depth and degree of the
political dialogue we have.
We have had a series of meetings in the past years in which we have been
able to coordinate our policy on a number of issues, in what's been an
in-depth, political dialogue based on common values. We have cooperated
satisfactorily on issues such as the Summit of the Americas, the crisis
in Haiti; the crisis between Peru and Ecuador, in which we both are
members of group of guarantor countries, and on economic matters, where
in addition to the invitation of the Presidents of the United States and
Mexico, and that of the Primer Minister of Canada for Chile to
participate in the North American Free Trade Agreement, the United
States remains our (Chile's) most important trading partner in the
world, and the main source of foreign investment in Chile. In the end,
these are substantial economic factors upon which to base any
relationship and any negotiation. In this framework, we are ready to
move forward and resolve any problem, no matter what difficulty we may
find in our path, with the certainty that we have a mature, friendly
relationship and association, which I repeat, is one of the steadiest we
have had in our history.
I am very glad to have been able to receive Secretary Christopher. He
has had a discussion with the President (Frei) and will himself address
its principal themes, and so I now have the pleasure of asking him to
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Thank you Mr. Minister. My discussions today
with President Frei and the Foreign Minister have deepened the
partnership between the United States and Chile. We built on the close
ties between President Clinton and President Frei which they forged in
President Frei's 1994 visit to the United States. Today I was pleased
to convey President Clinton's invitation to President Frei to pay a
state visit to Washington sometime later this year.
The successful partnership between our two nations is, of course,
grounded in shared democratic values. Chile has overcome a painful past
to restore a strong democracy with an accountable government and a
rapidly growing economy. Chile is indeed a model for the reforms that
bring stability and prosperity to so many of its neighbors. President
Clinton and I are, of course, both very pleased that our diplomatic
relationship, the partnership between our two countries, is growing and
I told both the President and the Foreign Minister that the United
States greatly appreciates the strong support Chile gave us in the U.N.
Security Council for the resolution deploring the brutal action of Cuba
in shooting down two unarmed, civilian planes. We look forward to
working with Chile in the Security Council to ensure in this situation
that international law is upheld and that such blatant violations are
not repeated. My discussion with both the President and the Foreign
Minister focused on the progress made in carrying out our broad agenda,
the agenda that was worked out between the Presidents at the Miami
Summit Conference. We reaffirmed our commitment to achieve a Free Trade
Area of the Americas by the year 2005 and to take further action toward
that goal in the meeting of ministers at Cartagena next month.
Chile's reforms have created one of the most open and successful
economies in the world. The Minister said this morning that the United
States is Chile's largest trading partner, and our foreign investment
here, I think, which is the largest of any country, increases every
In my meetings with both the President and the Foreign Minister, I
reaffirmed our Administration's commitment to negotiating Chile's
accession to NAFTA.
We also discussed the next steps to be taken to resolve the border
conflict between Peru and Ecuador. I expressed my great appreciation to
the President for the strong and cooperative action that Chile has taken
in regard to that conflict. We will continue working together as
guarantors under the Rio Pact.
I believe our discussions today have given new momentum to our
partnership, and I look forward to working with the Foreign Minister and
with the President as Chile takes its rightful place as one of the
leading nations, not only in our hemisphere, but in the world, a role
that is recognized by its membership at the current time in the United
Nations Security Council.
Thank you very much, Mr. Minister.
QUESTION: (El Mercurio) We know that the United States, after the recent
shooting down of airplanes in Cuba, is proposing greater sanctions
against Cuba, despite the fact that the Security Council approved only a
declaration to investigate the matter. I would like to know if you are
going to ask Chile directly to align itself with the U.S. position
within the Security Council to support the possibility of greater
sanctions against Cuba in the future.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: As I said, we are very grateful to Chile for the
support that was given in the resolution deploring the shooting down of
the two planes. In our discussions today we agreed to continue to work
together to ensure that international law is respected and that this
deplorable incident is not repeated. I don't think it is necessary for
me to go beyond that, other than to say that we did pledge ourselves to
work together to ensure that there be no repetition of this incident.
QUESTION (Robin Wright, Los Angeles Times): Mr. Foreign Minister, what
did you tell Mr. Christopher this morning about Chile's position on
sanctions against Cuba? And, secondly, do you agree with the United
States' position that isolation of Cuba is the most effective means for
FOREIGN MINISTER INSULZA: (unofficial translation) Well, I just want to
say two things on this issue. In the first place, we believe (and) I
think that both we and the United States share a fundamental position on
the Cuban issue, both in regard to the general issue and on the present
situation. Respecting the general issue, we have indicated that our
common goal is achieving full democracy throughout the hemisphere, and
of course, that includes Cuba and the rest of the countries in the
hemisphere. And, I believe that on this we have always been in
agreement with the United States.
On this particular case, we have indicated our condemnation of what
happened, and in addition, we have said that we await the International
Civilian Aviation Organization investigation concerning the appropriate
judicial measures, if there are any, and thus what is determined
respecting the way in which the accident occurred. However, this in no
way ought to limit our condemnation of what happened, because it seems
to us that the destruction of civilian aircraft and the death of
defenseless people, as in this case, is condemnable whether it occurs
within or outside of territorial waters, as we've said from the start.
We certainly don't reject, for this reason, that the sanctions issue be
discussed by the Security Council.
I want to be clear regarding sanctions. From Chile's point of view
sanctions are an instrument covered by international law, to the extent
that they are adopted by competent organizations within the
international system. To answer your question, we do not believe in
bilateral or, I should say, unilateral sanctions. We believe in
judicial means and international procedures to carry them out. We have
supported sanctions in other regions of the world, in Iraq, for
instance. And, for this reason, we're not talking about a matter of
principles here. I would say to you that, based on this, we can
discuss our policy and examine in each case the appropriateness of
determined measures, respecting certain countries. We have always
indicated that in the case of Cuba, the situation has already been
prolonged long enough so as to make it necessary to examine other
courses of action, other possibilities, and to take flexible positions.
Because, certainly, it is clear enough that this tense situation affects
the whole hemisphere. And, whenever one thinks there is some advance,
it's followed by a setback some months or years later.
Nevertheless, I want to say that we deeply regret the conduct of Cuba
in last Saturday's downing of the planes, which has put at risk, or
created great obstacles for the prospects of an opening and the dialogue
we proposed. We think, as well, that this is, besides being a serious
event from a humanitarian point of view, (also) a serious setback from
an international point of view, because it puts Cuba again in the sort
of isolated and criticized position that we would have hoped had come to
an end during this period.
QUESTION (La Nacion): Last year there was a meeting in Washington of the
defense ministers of the continent. I would like to know, in this new
era the world is living in after the Cold War, according to the United
States, what is the main enemy to the security of the continent, and
what is the role of the Latin American armed forces in this sense?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: The threats to our hemisphere are different ones
than the ones of the days of the Cold War and I think we can all be glad
that we do not face that kind of threat. Nevertheless, it's important
that there be a security dialogue between the ministers of defense of
the Western Hemisphere and I think it was a very forward step for
Secretary Perry to have called them together. In Williamsburg, we had
questions about regional security, we had questions about the level of
armament, we had questions about the appropriate use of armed forces in
dealing with other issues.
As we know, we have a whole new range of security issues as we move into
this post-cold war area. Terrorism, international crime, drug
smuggling, the smuggling of migrants, those are issues, some of which
are justified at least to be considered by our military. I think there
can be a useful dialogue between our military officials. Secretary
Perry is coming here in a couple of weeks to meet with your Minister of
Defense, and I think it's very useful for us to tackle this set of new
issues that involve such things as terrorism and nuclear terrorism, and
also we need to discuss things which will make the world safer, such as
a comprehensive test ban treaty which I discussed with the Foreign
Minister at some length today. So there is a new set of issues but the
armed forces continue to be relevant in an appropriate way.
QUESTION (Orbe): Mr. Christopher, besides the gracious and very kind
invitation to President Frei to enter the NAFTA, made last year by
President Clinton along with Canadian and Mexican authorities, Chilean
citizens don't really feel any friendly gestures toward Chile. As a
matter of fact, we are still awaiting some indication, some gesture from
the United States which recognizes the grapes issue and the harm it
meant for Chile six years ago: a loss in dollars and prestige to an
economy which was opening to the world, and which you have praised so
much today. However, we don't see any U.S. gesture regarding this, and
Chilean exporters expect one.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Speaking broadly, the relationship between our
two countries has never been better. We work on many matters of
importance around the world from Haiti to Iraq and elsewhere in the
world. And I think that is a relationship that befits our two powers:
Chile playing an increasingly important role, and our being very
grateful for their assistance in a number of places around the world.
With respect to gestures, let me just say on the grape issue, the
Foreign Minister and I had a good discussion of that this morning.
Discussion will continue in diplomatic channels, and I hope we can reach
an early resolution of whatever difficulties remain on that front. I
think the relationship between our two countries is not one in which
there are gestures to be expected back and forth. It's a mature
relationship in which we work together to try to resolve the problems in
the international sphere, to assure peace and stability in our
hemisphere, to enable all of our citizens to benefit from the very
active trade and investment that exist between our two countries.
QUESTION (Marlene Fernandez, CNN): Mr. Secretary as you know, for Latin
America trade is the number one issue, and there's a great concern, not
only in Chile but in the rest of Latin America, about the domestic and
political concerns in the United States, about not only not extending
new free trade agreements, but also sometimes doing away with NAFTA. My
question is: What did you tell Mr. Frei and what are you going to tell
the other leaders of the region about (inaudible) that these concerns
are having in your ability to move forward on the commitments of the
Miami Summit to have a free trade area nine years from now?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: President Clinton has absolutely determined that
the United States will continue to be engaged and will take a role of
encouraging open trade, fair trade within this hemisphere. I feel
confident that that is the direction that the American people as a whole
want to go. I feel confident that the United States will provide its
leadership in helping the rest of the hemisphere reach the commitment we
made at Miami and which calls for a commitment to open trading by all
the hemisphere until 2005. There is at the present time an election
campaign going on. You'll hear many voices, many different voices, some
turbulence in the discussion on this subject, but nevertheless I want to
emphasize President Clinton's firm commitment to United States'
engagement in the world, our strong resistance to the voices of
isolationism, our strong resistance to those who would say that the
United States should retreat behind barriers or behind walls. We think
that our citizens and the citizens of the world are better off with an
open and fair trading system, and we are going to continue to be
committed to that. And my advice would be, don't be diverted by the
voices that are urging the United States to take a different course. I
believe President Clinton's course that he has chosen will be the one
that will be confirmed by the views of the people in the United States,
where we see the values of engagement, we see the values to our citizens
as well as the world, of a strong U.S. role, a leadership role in the
world at large.
QUESTION : (inaudible; follow-up question on when NAFTA accession might
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: In that connection I don't want to set any
deadlines or any timetables. We will proceed on that as soon as it can
be prudently done. I think that the entire world, and certainly the
Chilean officials, are well aware that this an election year in the
United States. I would simply want to underscore President Clinton's
commitment to move forward on this when it can be done. Since I'm here
in Chile let me say that certainly the problem is not with Chile. The
Chilean officials have always been ready to move forward on this. We
are committed to doing so as soon as it's feasible within our political
QUESTION (Melinda Liu, Newsweek): Mr. Foreign Minister, this is a bit of
an unusual question, but I hope you will take it seriously because I am
very interested in your perspective. If you were to wake up tomorrow
morning and you were the Secretary of State of the United States, what
would you do to reduce Cuba as a problem in the hemisphere? Would you
lift the embargo? Would you chose to engage Cuba more vigorously?
FOREIGN MINISTER INSULZA: If you'll pardon me, I probably would call
Secretary Christopher for his advice, because I don't believe it is
realistic to state things from the point of view of your question.
I believe there are issues, such as the embargo and other topics, that
one cannot properly examine without looking back, without looking at
their history. The embargo is not something begun this year; it was not
established or initiated by the Clinton Administration. It is the
product of an entire history of relations between the United States and
Cuba. I cannot discuss or evaluate that history. It is very difficult
to put oneself in the role of the political actors and decision-makers,
when one is not from that country, is not part of its domestic politics,
and doesn't have the international responsibilities the United States
has. So while I take your question very seriously, if you'll allow me,
I'll decline to answer it.
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