Press Briefing From Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Office of the Press Secretary
(Merida, Yucatan, Mexico)

For Immediate Release February 15, 1999


Fiesta Americana Hotel
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

3:22 P.M. EST

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: In our meetings today, President Clinton andPresident Zedillo, and half a dozen members of each Cabinet, discussedliterallydozens of issues on which the United States and Mexico are good-faithresultsoriented partners. I should also mention that reflecting the breadth oftherelationship between our nations, I was particularly pleased that membersof theU.S. Congress and the Mexican Congress joined us here to hold a meeting oftheirown.

Let me give you an overview of our discussions here today, and thenSandy Berger and Janet Reno will speak more about the bilateral and lawenforcement issues.

The two Presidents reviewed global and regional financialdevelopments,looking both at ways to support sound economic policies in our hemisphereand atbilateral trade issues. They discussed migration, which remains achallenge forboth nations, and renewed their commitment to fight trafficking in humanbeingsand to protect the human rights of all migrants. And they talked about lawenforcement and anti-narcotics issues.

Our cooperation is not ideal for either side, but its success iscritical to the future of both. So our Presidents continue to look forways toimprove the process, pledging today to conclude a new agreement onprecursorchemicals and across-the-board to focus clearly on what works and what does not.

The two Presidents also discussed environmental cooperation, whichiscritical to improving our citizens' quality of life and to safeguarding ourcontinents' ecological treasures. During our signing ceremony at theHaciendaTemozon, Cabinet members signed a variety of agreements on subjects asvaried asfighting wildfires and fighting tuberculosis. We also discussed cuttingemissions of greenhouse gases and protecting Mexico's biodiversity. And weagreed to step up environmental cooperation along our border, and reviewedprogress on the NAFTA agreements on labor and the environment. We alsoagreedto expand co-chairing for U.S. and Mexican airlines. Already, each nationreceives more flights from the other than from any other nation.

Finally, Foreign Secretary Green and I reviewed our regional andglobalcooperation, which is an increasingly important tool for promoting oursharedinterests. We signed today an agreement on development cooperation in ourhemisphere. And this will allow us to coordinate our assistance,particularlyto our neighbors who are still struggling with the effects ofhurricanes Mitch and Georges.

No relationship the United States has with any nationaffects the daily lives of more American than do our ties withMexico. And that's why our Presidents have met 10 times duringtheir tenure. And that's why we continue to work together onsuch a broad range of issues, some where a partnership is closeand easy and others where it's, frankly, difficult. The resultsof today's meetings show beyond a doubt why our efforts areworthwhile.

Thank you. And I think now -- Sandy?

MR. BERGER: Let me spend a moment on the agreementsthat were finalized today and that were the subject of most ofthis discussion in the larger meeting that took place between theCabinet Secretaries on both sides.

Secretary Albright has mentioned the civil aviationagreement, which will liberalize air transportation. This willessentially provide perhaps the largest cochairing area in theentire world and will have enormous benefit for travelers andairlines between the two countries.

A second agreement that was signed by the AttorneyGeneral and by the Foreign Secretary -- I'm sure she'll commenton this later -- involves cooperation against border violence, tohelp prevent incidents of violence along the border by developingprocedures among law enforcement agencies who are responding tocalls for assistance, developing training programs andformalizing communications between the two governments.

A third agreement that was announced today involvesU.S.-Mexican economic cooperation, a new financing agreement tosupport U.S. exports to Mexico. The Ex-Im Bank of the UnitedStates announced -- Mr. Harmon was here -- that they will provideup to $4 billion in export financing over the next two years tosupport Mexico's purchase of U.S. goods and services. This isimportant for both countries, because with the internationalfinancial crisis Mexico has had difficulties in terms of accessto capital markets, and, of course, it will be good for theUnited 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 inlaw enforcement. Again, the Attorney General may comment on thislater, but it involves enhanced consultation involvingcross-border law enforcement activities and also an offer by theUnited States to provide technical assistance in training the newfederal preventative police force, which the Mexican governmentannounced last week that it was forming in an ambitiousundertaking to try to improve its capabilities in the war againstdrugs.

There is, in addition, an agreement to work together,as we did when the fires were taking place here in Mexico, towork on fire prevention. The President announced an additional$1.2 million towards a $5.7 million commitment by the UnitedStates to support Mexican efforts to improve fire management --this is essentially in forest areas -- and alternatives to theslash and burn agriculture and logging practices that have causedmany of these problems.

General McCaffrey, I'm sure, will comment about animportant step in our drug cooperation, and that is theestablishment of binational performance measures of effectivenessthat is concrete, measurable, objective, joint commitments thatwill mark and measure success going forward in the fight againstdrugs.

Finally, the President and President Zedillo agreed toadvance our already quite pervasive cooperation in the healtharea by cooperating in controlling and monitoring the spread ofdrug-resistant tuberculosis, which is a resurgent health threatboth in Mexico and in the United States. And all of these werediscussed either between the two Presidents or in the meetingsbetween the delegations.

General McCaffrey.

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Very briefly, there were two thingsworthy of comment. The high level Contact Group released todaythe performance measures of effectiveness. And they're availablefor you in English. We have been working at this for about ayear. It is our follow-on to the notion that we have a jointstrategy built around 16 alliance principles. Now what we'retrying to do is in a practical way describe how do we implement,evaluate and monitor what we're doing. And this is it. Andthere'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'regoing to start monitoring patiently, month by month, and build onthese. This took a lot of effort inside the U.S. government toagree to it, never mind inside the Mexican government. We'repleased that it's on the table and we can now use it as a tool.

The second thing we talked about, Minister del laFuente and his delegation and I early this morning had a meetingto review the progress of the last year of demand reductioncooperation. As many of you are aware, we brought together thefirst binational commission to study the issue of reduction ofuse of drugs in both countries in El Paso eight months ago.Today we are jointly announcing that on June 23rd in Tijuana, theMexicans will host the second annual meeting.

We have some, we think, solid ways now to enhance thispartnership in terms of common epidemiological data collection interms of sharing of scientific and medical information on drugtreatment, and indeed on cooperation in drug prevention programsamong the 10 million people that live in close proximity to thatborder.

We also continue to work on the issue -- MinisterLabastida brought a delegation last week to Mexico to lay outtheir own thinking on a $500 million, two-year effort to enhancetraining of Mexican anti-drug institutions, and indeed to bringaboard a lot of new technology. And so I took the delegationover 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 twoyears to turn over a drug cooperation enterprise that issignificantly better than the one we found. That's what we wereup to.

MS. BRAINARD: I'm going to spend about 30 seconds ormaybe a minute on the economic relationship. President Zedilloand President Clinton met at a time when the state of theeconomic relationship is extremely strong. As Secretary Albrightsuggested, the two Presidents talked about their mutual interestin financial stability in the region and the importance of everycountry in the region continuing on the reform path.

In Mexico, that continued commitment to reform hasyielded one of the strongest economies in the hemisphere thisyear with 4.6 percent growth. In fact, around the world, theU.S.-Mexican economic relationship has been one of our brightspots. Trade with Mexico has helped to insulate us from theAsian financial crisis while exports to the Pacific Rim were down19 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 washow remarkably strong NAFTA has proven to be in its fifth year.Over the course of the last five years, Mexico has become oursecond largest export market, surpassing Japan, an economy whichis 12 times larger and has contributed one-fifth of our overallexport growth, which as many of you know has been one of the mostimportant contributors to our overall growth story.

The other thing is that a million American jobs nowdepend on trade with Mexico. That's up 45 percent since thebeginning of NAFTA. So we're meeting at a good time, and asSandy Berger mentioned earlier, the Presidents agreed toundergird and expand that strong economic relationship with twovery significant agreements -- the EX-IM Bank agreement willpermit exports to continue flowing, and the $4 billion worth ofcredit support we estimate will support about 60,000 jobs in theUnited 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 becreated, not just in the airline area, but also in tourism and inrelated areas, by this joint marketing and sales agreement --there are currently about 100 route structures between Mexicanand U.S. cities, and there are 10,000 pendingapplications. If those applications are realized, it will becomethe largest air services market for the United States.

Q Secretary Albright, a question that I don't thinkcame up in your meetings here today, but it's on everyone's mind-- do you think Mrs. Clinton should run for the Senate in NewYork?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as I said to you many times,that when I became Secretary of State, I had all my politicalinstincts surgically removed, but I think Mrs. Clinton is afantastic human being and anyone that knows her knows that shewill be a great public servant.

Q You would disagree with that assessment?(Laughter.) Speak now. (Laughter.)

Q Secretary Albright, while you're there, the IraqiVice President said today that Iraq will attack a Turkish basewhere U.S. war planes -- if U.S. jets continue to patrol theskies over Iraq. Do you have any response to that?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We have made very clear that werethere any attacks on our forces or on neighboring countries, thatour 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 youconveyed your warning?

MR. BERGER: I think the Secretary just conveyed itquite clearly. But I think the Iraqis should have nomisunderstanding of the consequences that that would have.

Q Is this a serious threat -- I mean, this IraqiVice President --

MR. BERGER: I'm not going to characterize whether it'sserious or not. I think it would be extraordinarilycounterproductive for the Iraqis to undertake such a measurebecause we would respond, as the Secretary said, strongly andfirmly.

Q Madam Secretary, can you talk about Kosovo for amoment? Can you characterize what progress you are making andwhether or not you believe the Serbs are negotiating in goodfaith?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, as you know, I was justthere with them, and I believe that there was some progress madelast week, especially on the documents that have to do with thepolitical structure. And I think that our negotiators there,Chris Hill and Ambassador Petritsch of the EU, and Mr. Mayorskiyrepresenting the Russians, have really pressed the two partiesvery 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 haveprovided comments, both sides, in terms of those documents.

Now, we have gotten to another phase of this, which islooking at the military and police annexes and those have to do,obviously, with how withdrawals of the Serbian forces, as well asthe Serbian special police, are carried out and the presence ofan international implementing force. And I think those are --from the perspective of the Serbs, anyway -- more complicatedissues.

I think that it is hard to judge good faith, but wehave received some comments from them. I had conversations withPresident Milan Milutinovic, as well as with members of thedelegation. And I stressed upon them the necessity of reallybiting down on these difficult issues and that we expect aresponse. And then the Contact Group, as you know, set thedeadline of noon on Saturday to conclude these talks. So if theyare not negotiating in good faith, they better hurry up.

Q Ms. Reno, President Clinton today said that no oneis winning the war on drugs. You've been involved in theprosecution end of this for years. Can it, in fact, ever be won?

ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I think that working togetherunder the President's and General McCaffrey's leadership, we haveinstituted in the United States an effort aimed at demandreduction, aimed at enforcement and intervention. It won'thappen overnight, but I think we can substantially reduce the useof illegal drugs in our country.

Q What about the supply --

ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I am impressed with the Mexicancommitment to doing something about it, to recognizing that itcan't happen overnight, that sometimes there are morefrustrations then there are victories. I've been in this for along time and I understand how long it takes. But they arecommitted, they're dedicated to doing it, and I think they cansucceed given time.

Q General McCaffrey, the President said today therehad been increased cooperation and he said Mexico should not bepenalized when they're making this effort. Isn't it fair toconclude that the Secretary of State will recommendrecertification?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: It seems to me what I have beenengaged in personally for three years is building partnership andcooperation. The certification process is the federal law, wewill comply with it. What we're trying to achieve is continuingsome of the positive data that's on the table. We believe theireradication program is successful.

You know, as the CIA looks at these satellitephotographs -- there are 18 million hectors of growing area --it's clear just from watching the patterns what ends up to beabout 5,500 hectors of opium that these people are fearful thatthe PGR and the army is going to try and eradicate their crop.We think they're doing their job. We also think the Mexican Navyand the Coast Guard are cooperating. We believe there isexchange of intelligence. We believe they are making an efforton demand reduction. We believe they will invest in interdictionon their southern border.

Again, I wouldn't characterize anything that we'redoing as aimed at 1 March, but two years from now, is this a morebalanced, productive, counterdrug cooperative effort -- I thinkthat's where we're headed.

Q Is the answer to that question yes?

Q The standards that you announced today, can theybe used at some future point to set binding targets that acertification process could be --

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: We should be careful on ourlanguage. I urge you to look at those 82 variables. They'revery carefully constructed. Some are tighter than others. Someof the targets are due as early as September. They're rightaround the corner. There are deliverables there. We will beable to measure what we're accomplishing. But the goal of thisisn't so much a grading sheet as trying to keep us both on thiscooperative track. But you're going to find that there are somehard objectives there. What we've said is a year from todaywe'll go back, June of 2000, and look and see if these 82 wereright. But I think we've got it just about right for now.

Q General McCaffrey, what do the provisions call forif you don't meet the goals at each of these levels. And howdoes this proposal really advance the relationship between Mexicoand the U.S.? Because about a year ago you all presented thesevery same measures and had theoretically agreed to them.

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, let me, if I may, now, changethe assertion. This is what we did a year ago -- it's a strategyand it's taken us another year to try and turn it into concreteperformance measures. I might add, to be fair, we got our U.S.strategy done two years ago; we finally got our performancemeasures of effectiveness agreed on under the law about two weeksago.

So there's no question that it is hard work to get twosovereign democratic nations to agree on practical ways ofcooperating 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, youdon't meet the objectives you set for yourself?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Well, again, I think what webelieve is that this is a way to keep us on track to partnershipas opposed to calling it a grading sheet for mutualrecrimination.

Now, we've tried to make the point to the Mexicanauthorities, which I think is a valid one, that the centerpieceof the President's national drug strategy -- back to the otherpoint -- this cancer affecting American society, the centerpieceis demand reduction. We're also aware the United States is adrug producing nation -- particularly methamphetamines, PCP,Dutch-imported MDMA, et cetera. I think the Mexicans have nowaccepted the notion that if we're going to get through this10-year effort together they, too, will recognize our sort ofbinational responsibility to work against interdiction as well asdemand reduction.

I think it's a much changed atmosphere from whenSecretary Perry and I first came down here four years ago. Thisis a new world we're dealing with, in my view.

Q General McCaffrey, could you comment, please, onexactly what sort of support the U.S. is offering to the Mexicanfederal police force; and also, what effect this will have indrug fighting? Because the Mexicans say this is not an anti-drugforce, they're not anti-drug police --

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: I think you're talking about thenew agency they're going to stand up? Well, the Attorney Generalcould more usefully address that.

ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: As I understand it, there aretwo initiatives, one aimed at technology and other support andassistance to develop an intelligence capability; and, two, thefederal preventative police force. But I think it's all in itsformative stage. And what Director Freeh and I have said is thatif we can be of assistance, if we can be supportive, if we canprovide training and assistance, we'd like to cooperate in everyway that we can.

One of the best efforts that I have seen involvedbringing together Mexican prosecutors and investigators, togetherwith U.S. prosecutors and investigators, at a session at ourColumbia, South Carolina Advocacy Center. We're going to repeatthat, as I understand it, in April, here in Mexico. And to havethe two nations come together, learn about each other's processesand laws has been extraordinarily helpful in developing acooperative 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? Mexicanhuman rights groups have expressed a fear that the increased --General McCaffrey, I'm sorry -- that stepping up the drug war isincreasing human rights violations within Mexico. Do you haveany oversight capability?

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: The Attorney General and I are bothaware of that concern. It's one I share. Part of our program onthe U.S. side of the border clearly has been an attempt toprovide a more coherent law enforcement capability backed up byNational Guard and other factors. So we are concerned aboutprotecting cross-border movement, people's lives. And I thinkthere's an absolute commitment on our part.

Everything we do in this effort at the border has to bedone in cooperation with Mexico. It has to be open books. Whenwe talked about technology, nonintrusive detection technology, wegave Mexican authorities access to our technology. They'rebuying it; they're fielding it. I think on all of these issues-- every August I go down the border, go to the various criticalpoints and then cross the border and listen to Mexicanauthorities. We're trying to remain open to their concerns.

Q -- human rights groups, you're talking more aboutthe problems in southern Mexico where sometimes you sort of see-- drug interdiction are in the same place. They're expressedconcern that U.S. aid in the drug war is being used for otherpurposes in Mexico. What sort of oversight does the U.S.government have --

GENERAL MCCAFFREY: As far as we know, there'sabsolutely no evidence ever that U.S. training assistance orequipment has been used for anything but counterdrug operations.And as we get into this new era with Minister Labastida's attemptto bring together a very significant attempt -- you were talkinga couple of hundred small boats, aircraft, radars, betterintelligence -- as they move into that area, I think you'll seethat the focus is clearly going to be on stopping this massivemovement of drugs out of the north coast of Colombia, trying toget into the western Caribbean and also in the eastern Pacificand into Mexico. That's what they're going to try and stop withthis new effort.

Q Could I go back one question? This new policeforce -- is it your all's understanding that they are going to beinvolved in fighting drugs, or do they have a different mission?

ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: My understanding is that it isin formative stage and Mexican authorities should really discussit so that it is done accurately and clearly. What we have saidis that either in the intelligence aspect of it, the initiativesthat we discussed for this new combination of forces, we would behappy to assist in every way that we can.

Q So you don't know?

ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I think it would be moreappropriate and far less presumptuous of me to let the Mexicansdiscuss it.

Q Secretary Albright, one point -- you talked duringthe impeachment trial about the impact it was having in terms offoreign policy. Does the fact that it's over, the uncertainty isover, does that make any difference at this point? Does thathelp at all?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Having been with a number offoreign leaders yesterday, they all said that they were very gladthat it was over and that the United States had reproven itssanity.

Q Is she running, or not?

MR. LOCKHART: I think the President was particularlyunclear on that subject today, and I have nothing to say to clearit up.

All done? These lights are a little bit difficult onthe sunburn. Anything else for me? Week ahead? Good. Bye,guys. This was fun.

The Trip of the President to Mexico - Remarks and Briefings

President Clinton Answers Questions During a Photo Opportunity in Mexico

Press Briefing From Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Press Briefing - January 12, 1999

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