Welcome by Master of Ceremonies: On the occasion of the official visit to our country by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, following the meeting held with the Argentine Minister of Defense, Dr. Jose Pampuro, both high officials will now present the conclusions of their talks. Upon completion of those remarks, no questions will be taken from the audience.
First, Argentine Minister of Defense, Dr. Jose Pampuro, will address the audience.
Dr. Pampuro: Good morning. Today, I have the pleasure to welcome the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, with whom I have had a very fruitful meeting. Together, we have underscored the fundamental values that guide both our peoples, including the sustainment of democracy, the promotion and defense of human rights, the enhancement of institutional quality, the consolidation of economic stability and the continued search for a greater social equality in the region.
Such integration is built on the basis of sub-regional blocs, sharing historical and cultural affinity as well as closeness and common interests.
In such spirit, our regional cooperation is a sign of political and institutional maturity. Such spirit, increasingly present in our region, brings about multiple benefits but also greater responsibilities.
Secretary Rumsfeld and I have shared the view that the UN peacekeeping effort in Haiti is a remarkable example of regional responsibility. Being the only mission deployed in the hemisphere, it is also the first where Latin American forces have united to assist another country from our same region. We also agreed that to achieve a good performance in any multilateral peace mission, combined military exercises are an essential training element. In that regard, we discussed the Argentine agenda in the realm of the Argentine Congress, and we studied different options aimed at advancing the conduct of military exercises with the U.S. in a spirit of respect for both of our countries' existing laws.
Argentina is interested in strengthening its scientific and technological developments in all of its areas. This is one of the keys for the country's new productive profile.
On defense issues, we greatly welcome the technological cooperation with the U.S. We have agreed that preventing the drain of Argentine highly qualified human resources is fundamental for our nation. We also discussed national and international efforts undertaken by Argentina to address the need to reinforce its air space control.
In that regard, we commented on the progress of the national air space surveillance and control system, known as 'radarization process', a process that President Nestor Kirchner considers fundamental.
These were some of the topics we discussed in our meeting. Mr. Secretary of Defense, I wish to express my appreciation for your kind visit and underscore the importance of this type of exchange, which is highly beneficial for both our countries.
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: Thank you very much Mr. Minister. It is a pleasure to be here. Mr. Vice Minister and distinguished officials of the Defense Forces of Argentina. If I may, I would first like to express my appreciation to the people of Argentina for their hospitality and for the opportunity to visit this beautiful country again.
The Minister and I have had an excellent meeting that builds on the discussions that took place at the Defense Ministerial Meeting of the Americas in Quito.
The relationship between the United States and Argentina continues to strengthen. This is based in part on the long history of friendship between our citizens and also it is based on the recognition of the common challenges that we face in the period ahead.
The people of Argentina can take great pride in the important global role being undertaken by their country’s defense forces. Not too long ago, an Argentine destroyer joined the U.S. Navy and other Navies in operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
It was one more example of Argentina’s contributions to global security.
Argentina is playing a truly vital role in the multinational peacekeeping forces in Haiti. Earlier this morning we saw a film of the flooding that took place in Haiti not too long ago and, certainly, it was impressive that the Argentine troops, losing all their belongings and suffering along with the people of Haiti, continued their mission in good form. Theirs is an important service to the hemisphere, of which the people of Argentina can be rightly proud.
And I certainly want to thank the Minister and his staff for the fine briefing we received this morning on the work of the multinational force in Haiti.
I should add that Argentina’ s recognized leadership in science, technology and engineering offers another opportunity for furthering our partnership.
The United States recently opened an Office of Science, Technology and Cooperation here in Argentina and we believe that this relationship promises benefits for both our countries.
Mr. Minister, we look forward to Argentina’s hosting of the Summit of the Americas later this year.
And I thank you so much for your hospitality.