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Press Conference with Secretary Rumsfeld and President of Peru

Presenters: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and President of Peru, Alejandro Toledo Manrique
August 18, 2005
Press Conference with Secretary Rumsfeld and President of Peru

            President Toledo:  Ladies and gentlemen, journalists.  We have just had the privilege of receiving the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. I want you to know, Secretary Rumsfeld, that it is a great opportunity, and a privilege, to receive you because you represent a government with which we share common values.  These are the values of democracy, freedom of expression, respect for human rights, and firmness in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism.  We also share our effort to strengthen the Andean community’s, South America’s and overall Latin America’s democratic institutions.  I want to thank you especially for your support in the fight against drug trafficking expressed in the donation of these two C-26 aircrafts.  We, coca producer countries --which is later transformed into drug trafficking products-- need to get together to develop a strategy and immediately after meet with you, the consumer countries.  I want you to know that our country is your friend.  That the values that we share are ones related to the regional and global security.  There is no space for ambiguity in the fight against terrorism, no matter where it comes from.   Welcome to our country.      


            Secretary Rumsfeld:  Mr. President thank you so much for your warm greeting and for your hospitality.  Our delegation has appreciated having an opportunity to meet with you and the ministers. We had a very good discussion this morning with the Minister of Defense and discussed a number of the issues that you’ve mentioned. Our people do share common values and we would recognize and respect the leadership role that you have taken in this country, politically and from the economic standpoint as well as from the security standpoint.  As we discuss the problems that our respective countries face of terrorism, dealing with narcotrafficking, hostage taking, crime, we realize that these are problems that no country can deal with alone.  It requires regional cooperation.  And your country has been a leader in dealing with the problems of terrorism and narcotrafficking.  We recognize and appreciate it, and congratulate you.  And it’s been a pleasure for me, personally, to be back in your country after a number of years. Thank you, sir.


            President Toledo:  Mr. Secretary of Defense, let me add one additional element that has been part of our conversation.  It is a key importance that in the context of this fight against drug trafficking and terrorism, we expedite the FTA (free trade agreement) negotiation process.  From the Government Palace of Peru and through the mass media, I address the U.S. Senators and Congress’ representatives to ask their support in this struggle:  the approval of the FTA.  This will have a direct influence in crop’s substitution.   Access to markets will contribute to the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking.  I ask the U.S. Government, the Senators and members of Congress to help us expediting the FTA process, which is in its final phases.        


            Secretary Rumsfeld:  We had a good discussion on that subject and, certainly, recognize the importance of the economic relationship between our two countries and the progress that has been made.  This press conference would be remiss if I do not mention the contribution that your country has made to the peacekeeping effort in Haiti.  It is important, your troops and forces there have conducted themselves and told with great skill and success and it is an important contribution by Peru and the people of Peru to the stability and the goal of having stability dealt with in peaceful ways as we’re seeing take place there, so we thank you for that as well.


            Journalist Cecilia Rosales, daily El Comercio:  Mr. President, good morning.  My question is for our guest, Secretary Rumsfeld.  We would like to know what is your government’s position on the legalization of coca cultivation that is taking place in some regions of our country and if, from this start point, your government is evaluating to increase its support to fight drugs.  Yesterday, the new Prime Minster, Mr. Kuczynski, said that the U.S. support to our country is small compared to the one provided to Colombia.  Is there a concrete possibility of increasing the U.S. support to Peru? 


            Secretary Rumsfeld:  It is clear that the countries of North America need to work closely with the countries of South and Central America to do everything possible to reduce the very serious problem of drug trafficking.  And the role of the United States in that connection is something that is discussed every year within the executive branch and with the legislative branch in our country and there are continuous reviews of how we can best contribute and assist in dealing with that very serious problem.  But I am not in a position to predict what the outcome of the interaction between the executive and legislative branches might produce in any given year.


            Journalist Jim Mannion, Agence France Press:  Mr. President, the United States has expressed its concern about growing interference in the affairs of countries in this region on the part of Venezuela and Cuba.   Is this a concern that you share and how do you see this situation?


            President Toledo:  I will not discuss domestic policy issues of other countries, but I must express my concern on the need of strengthening stability in the Andean Region, in the South American Community of Nations and in Latin America in general.  We need to build democratic stability in order to promote private national and foreign investments and sustained economic growth, create jobs, generate income and reduce poverty.  We need stability to reach these goals.  It is not enough to be a democratically elected government, we need to rule democratically, but I will not discuss any issue about specific countries.  I only say that that it is a collective responsibility.  As current president of the South American Community of Nations, I can say that it is our obligation to build such stability through strong democratic institutions, respect for human rights and freedom of expression, and independence of powers.            


            Journalist María Luisa Palomino, daily Perú.21:  Mr. Rumsfeld, yesterday, Minister of Defense, Marciano Rengijo, said that one of the purposes of your visit was to discuss with the government of Peru the possibility of signing an agreement to protect U.S. personnel accused of violations of human rights from being prosecuted under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.  My question is if you have discussed this issue with the government of Peru and if the signature of the FTA will be subject to that agreement.   And, President Toledo, would you be willing to accept such a condition?


            Secretary Rumsfeld:  I hesitate to respond to the question, although I’ll happily do so for clarification purposes because the construction of the question was not completely accurate.  The situation is that the International Criminal Court Treaty exists and within it there is a provision that countries can bilaterally agree as to how jurisdiction will be handled.  It does not address immunity and it does not judge the validity or lack of validity of a particular allegation, as your question suggested.  I think 101 countries have now entered into bilateral understandings with the United States as to how jurisdiction should be handled.  And the United States’ position is that that it is a matter for each country to decide on its own, in its own way in its own time.


            President Toledo:  Let me answer your question.  I share Secretary Rumsfeld’s position.  We have talked about the issue but there is no condition.  The FTA has nothing to do with the issue of the International Criminal Court.  We are talking about it and we share the same spirit, but we have never been told that the FTA is subject to acceptance of the U.S. position with respect to ICC.  Mr. Rumsfeld has not done so, nor has any U.S. official did it.   Therefore, we cannot link two issues that are not related between them.      


            Journalist Allistair Scrutton, Reuters:  Mr. President, on the issue of antinarcotics, was aerial interdiction discussed and agreed upon for the near future?


            President Toledo:  Yes.  We have discussed about the need to be more effective in fighting drug trafficking and its links with terrorism.  Now we need to combat it through a strategy directed to reduce the number of coca hectares under cultivation.  Aerial, riverine, maritime and surface interdiction will be, in the first place, part of the producer countries’ strategy.  On the other hand, I’m suggesting a meeting with consumer countries so that, based on past experience, we build a more effective strategy to combat drug trafficking and its links with terrorism. 


            Mr. Rumsfeld, welcome to Peru and thank you for your visit. 


            Secretary Rumsfeld:  Thank you so much.

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