Outline Remarks, Eighth Meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group

(PAHO Headquarters, Washington D.C., March 6, 1998)

Thomas F. McLarty

Thank you, Juan, for your warm introduction and thoughtful comments. You have done fine work as co-chair of the SIRG, and I have enjoyed working increasingly closely with you and the Chilean delegation over the past several weeks. You are a strong voice for Chile and the hemisphere, having been deeply involved in the State Visit last week to Washington of your President Eduardo Frei, and we look forward to a continued close and productive relationship as we turn the comer toward Santiago.

Let me also take a moment to thank PAHO and its Director, Sir George Alleyne, for your gracious hospitality yesterday and today, and for your continued contributions to improving the lives of people across the hemisphere. PAHO is an important actor in our hemispheric efforts, and we respect and value your ongoing partnership with us.

And finally, Jeff Davidow continues to provide strong leadership to our State Department team, and his efforts have lent direction and continued relevance to our hemispheric Summit follow-up efforts and to the SIRG process. Thank you, Jeff, for your leadership.

Before I go further, let me thank each of you for your patience and understanding in allowing me to postpone my remarks to you until this morning. As Ambassador Davidow noted yesterday, my home state of Arkansas has recently been hit by a string of tornadoes, causing vast destruction which affected the President deeply, and I was asked to travel with him to assess the damage first hand. But we are back now, and I am pleased to be with you.

It is a real pleasure and a privilege to address this eighth meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group on behalf of the President and the US government, as special guest of the US co-chair.

This is our first meeting since the President's re-election in November. In the months immediately preceding the election, some in the hemisphere questioned the US commitment to the Miami process. They misunderstood our election-year debates, claiming we had lost the political will move forward with trade expansion and the FTAA. They pointed to a perceived pullback in US engagement abroad to claim we were quickly descending the lofty peak we scaled together as a hemisphere at Miami. And they said the lack of Presidential travel to the region was an indicator our rhetoric had outran our ability to deliver goods.

But there's an old saying: be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it. With the President's re-election, and with my designation as Special Envoy for the Americas as noted by Ambassador Davidow, we are moving ahead with purpose and resolve. Indeed, I believe historians of US foreign policy will call 1997 the Year, of the Americas.

Building on the Miami Summit, and on the Santa Cruz Summit on Sustainable Development last December, we anticipate the next 12 months will be filled with forward movement cementing relations, enhancing cooperation, and building toward the next Summit in Santiago.

Last week's visit of President Frei to Washington, the highly symbolic first State Visit in the President's second term, was an affirmation, if you will, of a strategy of heightened engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean in the coming year.

President Clinton plan three trips to the region between now and next March, a full schedule of engagement and prioritization. In April I will accompany the President to Mexico, and in May I will also travel with him, as all of your know, to Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, and Barbados. Of course, the President will cap off this schedule, as he announced last week, with travel to Santiago in March 1998.

Over the coming year, in a spirit of unity and consensus, we hope you and your governments will be able to join us in promoting a number of themes the President will emphasize which we believe are relevant to Santiago:

-the historic convergence of values across our hemisphere, built on democracy, opening markets, and peaceful resolution of disputes;

-the need-for cooperation and mutual support to achieve hemisphere goals and address trans-national, hemispheric problems: and, new realities and the process of government reinvention and privatization now underway making governments more responsive to their respective electorates, emphasizing anti-corruption initiatives in particular.

At bottom, people must see: democracy delivers. Without true progress, without touching peoples lives in a meaningful way, democracy itself may come under question. We must not leave anyone behind.

Democracy has taken root, but it remains fragile. We must take steps now to nurture and support it. We must begin to deliver the benefits of freedom-a safer, fairer, more prosperous life-to all our people.

The Summit process and the SIRG have certainly been major focus of may time over the past two years, and I will continue to be engaged as the President's personal representative. And I'm pleased to note, again, the progress we have made as a community of hemispheric democracies since Miami. From the Anti-Corruption convention, to the CICAD strategy against narcotics trafficking, to progress in capital markets, health and education, sustainable development, and trade, we have made important, tangible progress. Reported on that yesterday we have built a true foundation for improving peoples lives.

But even as we continue to implement our commitments from Miami and Santa Cruz- we must begin today to focus our attentions as well on the Santa Summit, barely one year in the distance. Stemming from the Summit review meeting of our Foreign Ministers last June in Panama, we must begin to develop our general guidance as developed by our Ministers:

-We want new, creative initiatives-beyond Miami-to improve peoples lives. We want to strengthen democracy and promote human rights; enhance free trade and economic liberalization, and alleviate poverty.

-To be credible, I believe we must have a compact plan action consisting of 5-8 initiatives, each with action items achievable in two to three years.

-Also in Santiago our leaders will review progress made since Miami and Santa Cruz concerning the very comprehensive initiatives they adopted at those Summits.

-And we should continue to use the SIRG as the appropriate forum for discussion and negotiations of the Santiago agenda. Chairing our deliberations today, we're delighted to have Ambassador Martabit, who has indicated a strong desire to lead a process based on openness, transparency, and consensus, the very principles that served us so well in our Miami and Santa Cruz discussions.

These concepts, I believe, should continue to provide the organizing framework as we move toward Santiago.

Before I turn return the floor to Ambassador Martabit, let me just say a few words about enhanced hemispheric trade and our commitment to it. As all of you know, we remain strongly committed to working collegially with, you and your governments to establish what many have called- the crown jewel of the Miami. Summit the FTAA by the year 2005. And we will be working in the upcoming Trade Ministerial in Belo Horizonte to forge hemispheric consensus on when and how. FTAA negotiations might actual begin.

To this end, we will be working with US Congress over the next few weeks to obtain fast track authority. The President is personally committed, as he has said publicly, and we are moving ahead. All of our governments, the US included, should therefore be ready for concrete progress in Belo.

A wise man once said, never make predictions, especially about the future. Who would have predicted immediately after the Miami Summit that we would be where we currently are? Who would have suggested a vibrant SIRG process, a successful handoff of Summit leadership, a common approach to the agenda so far in advance of Santiago? Indeed, who would have predicted there'd even be a Summit in Santiago?

Working together, we've clearly accomplished a lot. But we must continue to forge ahead, keeping our eyes on the proverbial prize, implementing our commitments even while seeking new challenges.

Simon Bolivar once compared the process of hemispheric integration to a farmer plowing the sea. And indeed, the task before us is difficult. But it is not impossible. Between now and March 1998, we face a historic moment in time. If we continue to work together, sowing the seeds of progress and prosperity within the fertile ground of the Summit process, our people will begin to feel, before long, the positive effects of our labors.

Let us commit today to pursuing jointly this common, and worthy purpose.