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Press Conference (Following US Central America Ministers Meeting)
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Miami, Florida, Thursday, October 13, 2005

Good morning.

[Pause].

Over the past two days we've had some excellent discussions on the challenges and the opportunities facing the people of Central America -- we've had useful contributions by participants from Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.

I want to give a special thanks to Minister Breve of Honduras for suggesting that this conference be held and the United States was happy to host it.

The working groups produced and presented today to the Ministers a series of recommendations which I found interesting and I know the Ministers have discussed it and intend to proceed and we talked about the sense of urgency that they merit.

Of immediate concern -- relief and recovery operations are ongoing to help the people of the areas affected by Hurricane Stan.  The people of the United States are grateful for the help that's been provided by our friends in this hemisphere when our own country was hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Our armed forces are continuing to work with others in the region to identify how additional U.S. military capabilities can be of assistance, particularly in Guatemala.

We concluded our conference this morning with the recognition of the critical relationship between security and economic opportunity.  We've made useful progress towards:

  • Increasing the cooperation of our armed force in important areas such as peacekeeping;
  • Planning and training together to better prepare for future natural disasters, and;
  • Jointly combating transnational threats.

One cannot overstate the importance of the region's transition to democracy in making this progress possible.  What a difference the past decade has made.

With the courageous and far-sighted leadership in Central America today there is a solid opportunity to achieve greater prosperity, security and freedom for the people of this important region.

I thank the Ministers and the observers for being here and for their contributions.  I look forward to working with each of them in the months ahead as we work to build a more secure and a more prosperous hemisphere.

For a complete transcript, including questions and answers, please visit:

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2005/tr20051013-secdef4062.html