Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld hosted the Presidents of six Central American and Caribbean nations at the Pentagon today:
The Department of Defense greeted the presidents with a welcoming parade and honor cordon. At a breakfast meeting following, the leaders discussed the linkage between economic development and security, in the context of the pending Central American Free Trade Agreement.
Economic progress and security are interdependent, said Secretary Rumsfeld. Today, the threat to Central American and Caribbean security comes from an anti-social combination of gangs, drug traffickers, smugglers, hostage takers, and terrorists. It is increasingly clear that they can be effectively combated and are being combated only by close cooperation among nations.
This trade agreement could help usher in a new era of cooperation between our countries and enhanced prosperity in the region, said Rumsfeld.