THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Merida, Yucatan, Mexico)
For Immediate Release February 15, 1999 3:22 P.M. EST
PRESS BRIEFING BY
SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE ALBRIGHT,
ATTORNEY GENERAL JANET RENO,
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR SANDY BERGER,
OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY
GENERAL BARRY MCCAFFREY,
AND NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DEPUTY DIRECTOR LAEL BRAINARD
Fiesta Americana Hotel
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: In our meetings today, President Clinton and President Zedillo, and half a dozen members of each Cabinet, discussed literally dozens of issues on which the United States and Mexico are good-faith results oriented partners. I should also mention that reflecting the breadth of the relationship between our nations, I was particularly pleased that members of the U.S. Congress and the Mexican Congress joined us here to hold a meeting of their own.
Let me give you an overview of our discussions here today, and then Sandy Berger and Janet Reno will speak more about the bilateral and law enforcement issues.
The two Presidents reviewed global and regional financial developments, looking both at ways to support sound economic policies in our hemisphere and at bilateral trade issues. They discussed migration, which remains a challenge for both nations, and renewed their commitment to fight trafficking in human beings and to protect the human rights of all migrants. And they talked about law enforcement and anti-narcotics issues.
Our cooperation is not ideal for either side, but its success is critical to the future of both. So our Presidents continue to look for ways to improve the process, pledging today to conclude a new agreement on precursor chemicals and across-the-board to focus clearly on what works and what does not.
The two Presidents also discussed environmental cooperation, which is critical to improving our citizens' quality of life and to safeguarding our continents' ecological treasures. During our signing ceremony at the Hacienda Temozon, Cabinet members signed a variety of agreements on subjects as varied as fighting wildfires and fighting tuberculosis. We also discussed cutting emissions of greenhouse gases and protecting Mexico's biodiversity. And we agreed to step up environmental cooperation along our border, and reviewed progress on the NAFTA agreements on labor and the environment. We also agreed to expand co-chairing for U.S. and Mexican airlines. Already, each nation receives more flights from the other than from any other nation.
Finally, Foreign Secretary Green and I reviewed our regional and global cooperation, which is an increasingly important tool for promoting our shared interests. We signed today an agreement on development cooperation in our hemisphere. And this will allow us to coordinate our assistance, particularly to our neighbors who are still struggling with the effects of hurricanes Mitch and Georges.
No relationship the United States has with any nation affects the daily lives of more American than do our ties with Mexico. And that's why our Presidents have met 10 times during their tenure. And that's why we continue to work together on such a broad range of issues, some where a partnership is close and easy and others where it's, frankly, difficult. The results of today's meetings show beyond a doubt why our efforts are worthwhile.
Thank you. And I think now -- Sandy?
MR. BERGER: Let me spend a moment on the agreements that were finalized today and that were the subject of most of this discussion in the larger meeting that took place between the Cabinet Secretaries on both sides.
Secretary Albright has mentioned the civil aviation agreement, which will liberalize air transportation. This will essentially provide perhaps the largest cochairing area in the entire world and will have enormous benefit for travelers and airlines between the two countries.
A second agreement that was signed by the Attorney General and by the Foreign Secretary -- I'm sure she'll comment on this later -- involves cooperation against border violence, to help prevent incidents of violence along the border by developing procedures among law enforcement agencies who are responding to calls for assistance, developing training programs and formalizing communications between the two governments.
A third agreement that was announced today involves U.S.-Mexican economic cooperation, a new financing agreement to support U.S. exports to Mexico. The Ex-Im Bank of the United States announced -- Mr. Harmon was here -- that they will provide up to $4 billion in export financing over the next two years to support Mexico's purchase of U.S. goods and services. This is important for both countries, because with the international financial crisis Mexico has had difficulties in terms of access to capital markets, and, of course, it will be good for the United States because this will increase our exports to Mexico, which are already growing at about 11 percent a year.
Another agreement reached today involved cooperation in law enforcement. Again, the Attorney General may comment on this later, but it involves enhanced consultation involving cross-border law enforcement activities and also an offer by the United States to provide technical assistance in training the new federal preventative police force, which the Mexican government announced last week that it was forming in an ambitious undertaking to try to improve its capabilities in the war against drugs.
There is, in addition, an agreement to work together, as we did when the fires were taking place here in Mexico, to work on fire prevention. The President announced an additional $1.2 million towards a $5.7 million commitment by the United States to support Mexican efforts to improve fire management -- this is essentially in forest areas -- and alternatives to the slash and burn agriculture and logging practices that have caused many of these problems.
General McCaffrey, I'm sure, will comment about an important step in our drug cooperation, and that is the establishment of binational performance measures of effectiveness that is concrete, measurable, objective, joint commitments that will mark and measure success going forward in the fight against drugs.
Finally, the President and President Zedillo agreed to advance our already quite pervasive cooperation in the health area by cooperating in controlling and monitoring the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis, which is a resurgent health threat both in Mexico and in the United States. And all of these were discussed either between the two Presidents or in the meetings between the delegations.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Very briefly, there were two things worthy of comment. The high level Contact Group released today the performance measures of effectiveness. And they're available for you in English. We have been working at this for about a year. It is our follow-on to the notion that we have a joint strategy built around 16 alliance principles. Now what we're trying to do is in a practical way describe how do we implement, evaluate and monitor what we're doing. And this is it. And there's 82 variables we're going to track.
We hope we got it right. A year from now we'll know. Some of them already have data bases associated with them. We're going to start monitoring patiently, month by month, and build on these. This took a lot of effort inside the U.S. government to agree to it, never mind inside the Mexican government. We're pleased that it's on the table and we can now use it as a tool.
The second thing we talked about, Minister del la Fuente and his delegation and I early this morning had a meeting to review the progress of the last year of demand reduction cooperation. As many of you are aware, we brought together the first binational commission to study the issue of reduction of use of drugs in both countries in El Paso eight months ago. Today we are jointly announcing that on June 23rd in Tijuana, the Mexicans will host the second annual meeting.
We have some, we think, solid ways now to enhance this partnership in terms of common epidemiological data collection in terms of sharing of scientific and medical information on drug treatment, and indeed on cooperation in drug prevention programs among the 10 million people that live in close proximity to that border.
We also continue to work on the issue -- Minister Labastida brought a delegation last week to Mexico to lay out their own thinking on a $500 million, two-year effort to enhance training of Mexican anti-drug institutions, and indeed to bring aboard a lot of new technology. And so I took the delegation over to their embassy in Washington, listened to their thinking, and now we'll try and build upon their own ideas.
All in all, we think we are on track in the coming two years to turn over a drug cooperation enterprise that is significantly better than the one we found. That's what we were up to.
MS. BRAINARD: I'm going to spend about 30 seconds or maybe a minute on the economic relationship. President Zedillo and President Clinton met at a time when the state of the economic relationship is extremely strong. As Secretary Albright suggested, the two Presidents talked about their mutual interest in financial stability in the region and the importance of every country in the region continuing on the reform path.
In Mexico, that continued commitment to reform has yielded one of the strongest economies in the hemisphere this year with 4.6 percent growth. In fact, around the world, the U.S.-Mexican economic relationship has been one of our bright spots. Trade with Mexico has helped to insulate us from the Asian financial crisis while exports to the Pacific Rim were down 19 percent. Our exports to Mexico were up by roughly 11 percent. And a similar story can be told for Mexico.
The other thing that the Presidents talked about was how remarkably strong NAFTA has proven to be in its fifth year. Over the course of the last five years, Mexico has become our second largest export market, surpassing Japan, an economy which is 12 times larger and has contributed one-fifth of our overall export growth, which as many of you know has been one of the most important contributors to our overall growth story.
The other thing is that a million American jobs now depend on trade with Mexico. That's up 45 percent since the beginning of NAFTA. So we're meeting at a good time, and as Sandy Berger mentioned earlier, the Presidents agreed to undergird and expand that strong economic relationship with two very significant agreements -- the EX-IM Bank agreement will permit exports to continue flowing, and the $4 billion worth of credit support we estimate will support about 60,000 jobs in the United States.
The civil aviation agreement also is a very good one, which all of the U.S. airlines have been very enthusiastic about. Just to give you a sense of how many more opportunities will be created, not just in the airline area, but also in tourism and in related areas, by this joint marketing and sales agreement -- there are currently about 100 route structures between Mexican and U.S. cities, and there are 10,000 pending applications. If those applications are realized, it will become the largest air services market for the United States.
Q Secretary Albright, a question that I don't think came up in your meetings here today, but it's on everyone's mind -- do you think Mrs. Clinton should run for the Senate in New York?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as I said to you many times, that when I became Secretary of State, I had all my political instincts surgically removed, but I think Mrs. Clinton is a fantastic human being and anyone that knows her knows that she will be a great public servant.
Q You would disagree with that assessment? (Laughter.) Speak now. (Laughter.)
Q Secretary Albright, while you're there, the Iraqi Vice President said today that Iraq will attack a Turkish base where U.S. war planes -- if U.S. jets continue to patrol the skies over Iraq. Do you have any response to that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have made very clear that were there any attacks on our forces or on neighboring countries, that our response would be swift and sure.
Q Have you addressed the specific threat in any way, I mean, other than what you just said now? I mean, have you conveyed your warning?
MR. BERGER: I think the Secretary just conveyed it quite clearly. But I think the Iraqis should have no misunderstanding of the consequences that that would have.
Q Is this a serious threat -- I mean, this Iraqi Vice President --
MR. BERGER: I'm not going to characterize whether it's serious or not. I think it would be extraordinarily counterproductive for the Iraqis to undertake such a measure because we would respond, as the Secretary said, strongly and firmly.
Q Madam Secretary, can you talk about Kosovo for a moment? Can you characterize what progress you are making and whether or not you believe the Serbs are negotiating in good faith?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as you know, I was just there with them, and I believe that there was some progress made last week, especially on the documents that have to do with the political structure. And I think that our negotiators there, Chris Hill and Ambassador Petritsch of the EU, and Mr. Mayorskiy representing the Russians, have really pressed the two parties very hard on those issues. And so I can't give you a percentage, but I think that they have made good progress on that and have provided comments, both sides, in terms of those documents.
Now, we have gotten to another phase of this, which is looking at the military and police annexes and those have to do, obviously, with how withdrawals of the Serbian forces, as well as the Serbian special police, are carried out and the presence of an international implementing force. And I think those are -- from the perspective of the Serbs, anyway -- more complicated issues.
I think that it is hard to judge good faith, but we have received some comments from them. I had conversations with President Milan Milutinovic, as well as with members of the delegation. And I stressed upon them the necessity of really biting down on these difficult issues and that we expect a response. And then the Contact Group, as you know, set the deadline of noon on Saturday to conclude these talks. So if they are not negotiating in good faith, they better hurry up.
Q Ms. Reno, President Clinton today said that no one is winning the war on drugs. You've been involved in the prosecution end of this for years. Can it, in fact, ever be won?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I think that working together under the President's and General McCaffrey's leadership, we have instituted in the United States an effort aimed at demand reduction, aimed at enforcement and intervention. It won't happen overnight, but I think we can substantially reduce the use of illegal drugs in our country.
Q What about the supply --
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I am impressed with the Mexican commitment to doing something about it, to recognizing that it can't happen overnight, that sometimes there are more frustrations then there are victories. I've been in this for a long time and I understand how long it takes. But they are committed, they're dedicated to doing it, and I think they can succeed given time.
Q General McCaffrey, the President said today there had been increased cooperation and he said Mexico should not be penalized when they're making this effort. Isn't it fair to conclude that the Secretary of State will recommend recertification?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It seems to me what I have been engaged in personally for three years is building partnership and cooperation. The certification process is the federal law, we will comply with it. What we're trying to achieve is continuing some of the positive data that's on the table. We believe their eradication program is successful.
You know, as the CIA looks at these satellite photographs -- there are 18 million hectors of growing area -- it's clear just from watching the patterns what ends up to be about 5,500 hectors of opium that these people are fearful that the PGR and the army is going to try and eradicate their crop. We think they're doing their job. We also think the Mexican Navy and the Coast Guard are cooperating. We believe there is exchange of intelligence. We believe they are making an effort on demand reduction. We believe they will invest in interdiction on their southern border.
Again, I wouldn't characterize anything that we're doing as aimed at 1 March, but two years from now, is this a more balanced, productive, counterdrug cooperative effort -- I think that's where we're headed.
Q Is the answer to that question yes?
Q The standards that you announced today, can they be used at some future point to set binding targets that a certification process could be --
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: We should be careful on our language. I urge you to look at those 82 variables. They're very carefully constructed. Some are tighter than others. Some of the targets are due as early as September. They're right around the corner. There are deliverables there. We will be able to measure what we're accomplishing. But the goal of this isn't so much a grading sheet as trying to keep us both on this cooperative track. But you're going to find that there are some hard objectives there. What we've said is a year from today we'll go back, June of 2000, and look and see if these 82 were right. But I think we've got it just about right for now.
Q General McCaffrey, what do the provisions call for if you don't meet the goals at each of these levels. And how does this proposal really advance the relationship between Mexico and the U.S.? Because about a year ago you all presented these very same measures and had theoretically agreed to them.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, let me, if I may, now, change the assertion. This is what we did a year ago -- it's a strategy and it's taken us another year to try and turn it into concrete performance measures. I might add, to be fair, we got our U.S. strategy done two years ago; we finally got our performance measures of effectiveness agreed on under the law about two weeks ago.
So there's no question that it is hard work to get two sovereign democratic nations to agree on practical ways of cooperating across a range of these counterdrug responsibilities. But I think these are real documents, this is a real partnership. There are planes, boats, training seminars, intelligence sharing -- there is reality behind all of this.
Q And, again, what does it call for if, in fact, you don't meet the objectives you set for yourself?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, again, I think what we believe is that this is a way to keep us on track to partnership as opposed to calling it a grading sheet for mutual recrimination.
Now, we've tried to make the point to the Mexican authorities, which I think is a valid one, that the centerpiece of the President's national drug strategy -- back to the other point -- this cancer affecting American society, the centerpiece is demand reduction. We're also aware the United States is a drug producing nation -- particularly methamphetamines, PCP, Dutch-imported MDMA, et cetera. I think the Mexicans have now accepted the notion that if we're going to get through this 10-year effort together they, too, will recognize our sort of binational responsibility to work against interdiction as well as demand reduction.
I think it's a much changed atmosphere from when Secretary Perry and I first came down here four years ago. This is a new world we're dealing with, in my view.
Q General McCaffrey, could you comment, please, on exactly what sort of support the U.S. is offering to the Mexican federal police force; and also, what effect this will have in drug fighting? Because the Mexicans say this is not an anti-drug force, they're not anti-drug police --
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I think you're talking about the new agency they're going to stand up? Well, the Attorney General could more usefully address that.
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: As I understand it, there are two initiatives, one aimed at technology and other support and assistance to develop an intelligence capability; and, two, the federal preventative police force. But I think it's all in its formative stage. And what Director Freeh and I have said is that if we can be of assistance, if we can be supportive, if we can provide training and assistance, we'd like to cooperate in every way that we can.
One of the best efforts that I have seen involved bringing together Mexican prosecutors and investigators, together with U.S. prosecutors and investigators, at a session at our Columbia, South Carolina Advocacy Center. We're going to repeat that, as I understand it, in April, here in Mexico. And to have the two nations come together, learn about each other's processes and laws has been extraordinarily helpful in developing a cooperative effort along the border.
Q General, is there any oversight of how the U.S. cooperation in the drug war is being used in Mexico? Mexican human rights groups have expressed a fear that the increased -- General McCaffrey, I'm sorry -- that stepping up the drug war is increasing human rights violations within Mexico. Do you have any oversight capability?
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: The Attorney General and I are both aware of that concern. It's one I share. Part of our program on the U.S. side of the border clearly has been an attempt to provide a more coherent law enforcement capability backed up by National Guard and other factors. So we are concerned about protecting cross-border movement, people's lives. And I think there's an absolute commitment on our part.
Everything we do in this effort at the border has to be done in cooperation with Mexico. It has to be open books. When we talked about technology, nonintrusive detection technology, we gave Mexican authorities access to our technology. They're buying it; they're fielding it. I think on all of these issues -- every August I go down the border, go to the various critical points and then cross the border and listen to Mexican authorities. We're trying to remain open to their concerns.
Q -- human rights groups, you're talking more about the problems in southern Mexico where sometimes you sort of see -- drug interdiction are in the same place. They're expressed concern that U.S. aid in the drug war is being used for other purposes in Mexico. What sort of oversight does the U.S. government have --
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: As far as we know, there's absolutely no evidence ever that U.S. training assistance or equipment has been used for anything but counterdrug operations. And as we get into this new era with Minister Labastida's attempt to bring together a very significant attempt -- you were talking a couple of hundred small boats, aircraft, radars, better intelligence -- as they move into that area, I think you'll see that the focus is clearly going to be on stopping this massive movement of drugs out of the north coast of Colombia, trying to get into the western Caribbean and also in the eastern Pacific and into Mexico. That's what they're going to try and stop with this new effort.
Q Could I go back one question? This new police force -- is it your all's understanding that they are going to be involved in fighting drugs, or do they have a different mission?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: My understanding is that it is in formative stage and Mexican authorities should really discuss it so that it is done accurately and clearly. What we have said is that either in the intelligence aspect of it, the initiatives that we discussed for this new combination of forces, we would be happy to assist in every way that we can.
Q So you don't know?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I think it would be more appropriate and far less presumptuous of me to let the Mexicans discuss it.
Q Secretary Albright, one point -- you talked during the impeachment trial about the impact it was having in terms of foreign policy. Does the fact that it's over, the uncertainty is over, does that make any difference at this point? Does that help at all?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Having been with a number of foreign leaders yesterday, they all said that they were very glad that it was over and that the United States had reproven its sanity.
Q Is she running, or not?
MR. LOCKHART: I think the President was particularly unclear on that subject today, and I have nothing to say to clear it up.
All done? These lights are a little bit difficult on the sunburn. Anything else for me? Week ahead? Good. Bye, guys. This was fun.