Transcript of press conference with President George W. Bush and
Colombian President Álvaro Uribe, Crawford, Texas, August 4, 2005
Office of the Press Secretary
August 4, 2005
BY PRESIDENT BUSH
AND PRESIDENT URIBE OF COLOMBIA
IN A PRESS AVAILABILITY
BUSH: Thank you all. Welcome. Laura and I are very pleased to
welcome President Uribe and his gracious wife, Lina, to our home
here in Crawford. President Uribe is a strong and principled leader.
I admire his determination; I appreciate his vision for a peaceful
and prosperous Colombia.
two nations are working together to fight drug trafficking and
terrorism, and to promote security, democracy and the rule of
law throughout the Americas. President Uribe's leadership and
the courage of the Colombian people are creating a bright future
for Colombia. The Colombian government implemented a comprehensive
strategy, known as Plan Colombia, to reduce the illegal drug trade,
revitalize Colombia's economy, strengthen its democratic institutions,
and improve the security of its people. The United States provided
critical assistance for Plan Colombia, and the plan is producing
crime in Colombia is at its lowest level in 16 years. Since 2002,
murders, kidnappings and terrorist acts in Colombia have all declined
significantly. Colombia is also making great progress in reforming
its justice system. These gains in security and the rule of law
are helping the Colombian economy grow by more than 4 percent
last year. And as Colombia has improved its security and economy,
it has also emerged as a leader in our hemisphere.
shares our commitment to advancing economic growth, trade, and
democracy in the Americas. Colombia is also sharing its expertise
with Afghanistan to combat terrorism and narco-trafficking in
that new democracy. And America is very grateful for your support.
will continue to stand with the people of Colombia. I will ask
the Congress to sustain our commitment to follow-on programs for
Plan Colombia so Colombia can build on its progress and win its
war against the narco-terrorists. Our strategic partnership is
vital to the security, prosperity and freedom of both our countries
and the Americas.
President, thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your friendship,
URIBE: (As translated.) Mr. President, thank you very much, and
I also want to thank your wife, Laura, and all of your team. Thank
you for welcoming Lina, my delegation and myself to your home
here, and for sharing with us here in this wonderful place in
you have well said, both of our countries have a strategic relationship
that is based on mutual trust, which is aimed at deepening democracy,
at combating terrorism, and on building social cohesion. Our agenda
is very important for the present and the future of both of our
peoples, so that Colombia can free itself from the scourge of
great enemy of Colombian democracy is terrorism. And our great
partner in defeating terrorism has been the government and the
people of the United States. Allow me to say here to the rest
of the world that U.S. cooperation has been exemplary. It has
gone beyond rhetoric, and it has, in fact, been cooperation that
has been put in practice. And all democratic countries need to
know that: that cooperation should be realistic and put into practice.
have made progress, and we are winning, but we have not won yet.
And that is why it is important to continue with this cooperation,
as you have said, that you have asked from the Congress, President
Bush. We cannot leave this task half-finished. We must take it
all the way to the end. We need a definitive victory for both
democratic peoples of Colombia and the United States, and also,
we must keep that objective in mind as we build upon our results
to keep moving forward to that final goal.
trust that we will soon be able to announce the successful completion
of our free trade agreement -- an agreement built on trust; an
agreement that can help bring our democratic peoples closer together
and in more solidarity. The key word in Colombia today is "trust."
This is the mutual trust that is the basis of the relationship
with the United States. It is trust that we want to create among
Colombian people, themselves.
that Colombians can gain trust in their homeland, we are working
on five elements of a modern democracy. Number one is democratic
security: security for all citizens, security for pluralism, security
for all ideas and for all citizens.
second element is respect for public freedom. In Colombia we've
had a dictatorship of terrorism, but the people, the government,
and the nation of Colombia that are fighting terrorism will do
so by respecting public freedom. They want to serve as an example,
because that's the difference between what has happened in our
country and in other Latin American countries, where it was government
dictatorships. Here we have a democratic government that has full
respect for public freedom and that fully intends to defeat terrorism.
third element is to build social cohesion, which is necessary
in order to have sustainable democracy and a sustainable security
policy. The election of Ambassador Moreno, as President of the
IDB represents a great opportunity for our continent. It represents
a new hope for us to combat poverty, and to build social cohesion.
fourth element is transparency. The fifth is respect for the independence
of institutions. Transparency in public affairs, transparency
in friendship, transparency in partnership and in agreement and
in disagreement. Transparency is critical for modern democracies
in order for the people to have trust in the government that guides
fifth element is respect for the independence of our institutions,
which is important for the rule of law. This is critical for a
modern democracy. Colombia deepens its respect for its independent
institutions, especially now that we're combating -- in this moment
of time, when we're combating terrorism.
you once again, President Bush, for your friendship, for your
solidarity, and you honor us by welcoming us here to your home.
BUSH: We'll answer two questions a side. Nedra.
Thank you, Mr. President. The Discovery Space Shuttle mission
has been dominated by repairs and questions about safety. Do you
think the return to space was premature? And are you worried about
Discovery's return next week?
BUSH: First of all, I had the honor of speaking to the -- the
folks of -- that are on that mission. And it was a great experience
to be talking to bold explorers. And, secondly, like a lot of
Americans, I was amazed at the procedures that took place to repair
the craft. It's pretty remarkable. I believe that -- I believe
that the mission is important, and I know that the mission directors
will make the right decision about how to proceed.
is a country that values the safety of our citizens, particularly
those we ask to take risk in space. And there will be a lot of
deliberation, a lot of thought that goes into the decision as
to whether or not those brave souls can -- should return on that
vehicle. And I know that NASA has been very closely in touch with
the White House. Andy Card has been in touch with the Administrator
on a regular basis. But I've got the confidence -- all the confidence
that they will make the right decision.
me also say that it is important for our fellow citizens to understand
that we're going to take the NASA mission beyond the current mission,
that we'll be using -- we want -- the plan right now is to phase
out the shuttle by 2010, and then begin to put a strategy in place
that will use the moon as a launching spot for further exploration.
know the -- at least the people I've talked to inside NASA are
excited about the mission, the reinvigoration of the vision of
exploration. And I appreciate the Administrator working on getting
that strategy in place, so that when the decision is made to finally
get rid of this phase of exploration, we'll be ready to take on
the new phase. And that's important for the American people to
understand, that, one, exploration is important; two, there will
be some good coming out of exploration; and, three, that we've
got a new vision embraced by NASA and its pioneers.
ahead and ask a question.
If you could answer in Spanish, that will be great. But, really,
either one of you can answer. I was wondering if Venezuela came
up at all, and whether or not you had a chance to discuss the
advances in human rights investigations in Colombia?
URIBE: (Question answered in Spanish.)
Did you discuss Venezuela and human rights?
URIBE: (Question answered in Spanish.)
Mr. President --
BUSH: Hold on a second. Why don't you translate that, please.
Colombia faces a threat from terrorism from -- funded by drug
trafficking. This is a threat that can affect the entire neighborhood,
that can affect our entire continent, because when Colombian terrorists
cannot kidnap within our borders, they're forced to kidnap outside
in our neighboring countries. This terrorism -- this kind of terrorism
knows no limits, it knows no ethics. And that is why it must be
defeated in Colombia. And we must do this by getting cooperation
from our neighboring countries. And that is what we aspire to
at the highest levels.
far as our human rights. This was discussed with great seriousness
and with great respect. Our security policy must be sustainable.
In order for it to be sustainable, there must be respect for human
rights and there must be transparency for the -- so that it can
be respected by public opinion. The respect for human rights needs
transparency. This is what we work for in Colombia every day.
Thanks, sir. Al Qaeda's number two, Dr. al-Zawahiri, is warning
that attacks will continue until U.S. troops leave Iraq. How serious
a threat is this? And after so many Marines were killed this week,
what's being done to improve their safety?
BUSH: First, let me say that we mourn the loss of every fallen
troop. And the community outside of Cleveland, Brook Park, Ohio,
suffered mightily over the last couple of days. It's -- the people
of Brook Park and the family members of those who lost their life,
I hope they can take comfort in the fact that millions of their
fellow citizens pray for them. I hope they also take comfort in
the understanding that the sacrifice was made in a noble cause.
laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. We're
defeating the terrorists in a place like Iraq so we don't have
to face them here at home. And, as well, we're spreading democracy
and freedom to parts of the world that are desperate for democracy
comments by the number two man of al Qaeda make it clear that
Iraq is a part of this war on terror, and we're at war. In other
words, he's saying, leave. As I have told the American people,
one, that people like Zawahiri have an ideology that is dark,
dim, backwards; they don't trust -- they don't appreciate women;
if you don't agree to their narrow view of a religion you'll be
whipped in the public square. That's their view, and they have
tactics to help spread that view. In other words, they've got
goals. They want to spread that point of view throughout the world,
starting in the broader Middle East. And part of their goal is
to drive us out of the broader Middle East, precisely what Zawahiri
said. In other words, he's threatening.
have come up against a nation that, one, will defend itself. Zawahiri
is a part of that team that attacked us on September the 11th,
2001. He was part of an al Qaeda group that said, well, we'll
try to achieve our objective in attacking America. They must not
have understood the nature of our country. I vowed then that we
would stay on the offense against these people. We owe it to the
American people, and other freedom-loving countries, to bring
these killers to justice. And that's what they are: they're terrorists,
and they're killers. And they will kill innocent people trying
to get us to withdraw from the world, so they can impose their
dark vision on the world. That's what they're trying to do. And
the comments today by Mr. Zawahiri absolutely reinforce what I've
just told you.
will stay the course, we will complete the job in Iraq. And the
job is this: We'll help the Iraqis develop a democracy. They're
writing -- in the process of writing a constitution, which will
be ratified in October, and then they will elect a permanent government.
It's also important for our citizens to understand that progress
has been made, particularly when eight-plus million people got
to vote in the face of Zawahiri and Sarawak and these killers.
also training Iraqis. Our troops will come home as soon as possible.
"As soon as possible" means when those Iraqis are prepared
to fight. As Iraq stands up, our coalition will stand down.
Iraqis want to live in a free society. Zawahiri doesn't want them
to live in a free society. And that's the clash of ideologies
-- freedom versus tyranny. We have had these kinds of clashes
before, and we have prevailed. We have prevailed because we're
right; we have prevailed because we adhere to a hopeful philosophy;
and we have prevailed because we would not falter.
ahead and ask --
Also the question is for President Bush. Did you talk about the
necessity and the importance of the creation of international
community that can verify the application of the justice and peace
law, and also its implementation?
BUSH: We did talk about human rights. I talked about human rights.
The Secretary of State Arrow -- (laughter) -- talked about human
rights. The President assured us -- a couple of points that are
important to understand -- one, that there is an independent judiciary,
in other words, independent from government, that will adjudicate
these disputes; secondly, that there is a new prosecutor reporting
to the independent judiciary that will follow through on the cases;
and, thirdly, that he is committed to seeing to it as best as
possible that progress be made on these cases.
we talked about specific cases. And I listened intently and believe
that he is interested in following through on these cases, so
that the world will hear loud and clear that Colombia is a nation
of law and human rights and human dignity.
URIBE: (Question answered in Spanish.)
BUSH: You le compendia. Vamps a comer. (Laughter.) I told him
I understood him. We're going to go eat. Thank you very much.
Appreciate you. Gracias.
What's on the menu? What's on the menu?
BUSH: Necesito preguntar a mi esposa. I've been thinking about
business; she's been thinking about the food.
12:15 P.M. CDT
August 8, 2005, this document was also available online at http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2005&m=August&x=20050804163516GLnesnoM0.8448297&t=wh/wh-latest.html