The United States and Brazil share an important common agenda to further democracy in the Western Hemisphere and to expand regional trade and development so that the region’s governments can provide all citizens with the opportunity for greater prosperity, says Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Rice and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim discussed the common agenda of the two nations, as well as the challenges facing the hemisphere, during an April 26 meeting in Brazil.
In remarks following their meeting, Rice explained that the agenda she envisions for the Western Hemisphere includes governance in accordance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and the pursuit of economic opportunities through free trade – globally via the World Trade Organization (WT0), regionally through the establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), and subregionally through smaller accords.
That positive agenda, she added, also includes the pursuit of sound, pro-growth economic policies and the promotion of good governance, including anti-corruption initiatives and efforts to extend health care and educational opportunities.
The promotion of this agenda, Rice said, should serve to enhance the stability of the region and deter the pursuit of impractical populist policies.
“I’m quite sure that if we pursue that positive agenda in this hemisphere and pursue it together with partners like Brazil, … we will create an environment in which there are stronger democracies, not so many that are fragile,” Rice said.
“There are always going to be difficult circumstances and challenges, but our job has to be, as members of this hemisphere, to pursue policies that give democracy a chance – not just to hold elections, but to then actually provide for its people and to resist then the siren song of kind of easy solutions that sound good but, in fact, are not based in economic reality.”
Within the context of a shared agenda for the region, Rice and Amorim discussed a number of regional challenges, including the recent political crisis in Ecuador that resulted in the April 20 ouster of Ecuadorian President Lucio Gutierrez.
Rice said that she and her Brazilian counterpart discussed the Organization of American States (OAS) mission that is trying to help Ecuador find a constitutional and democratic way forward.
Rice also said Brazil and the United States have promised to stay in close contact about the situation in Ecuador.
The two officials also discussed Venezuela, and Rice pointed to a shared hemispheric desire for freedom and complete democracy in that country.
“The issues with Venezuela are not issues between the United States and Venezuela, or Venezuela and Brazil; they are issues about the freedom and democracy and [democratic] institutions” the Venezuelan people are entitled to, she said.
On the trade front, Rice and Amorim discussed cooperation within the WTO and also how to re-energize efforts to craft an FTAA.
Apart from hemispheric issues, the two officials talked about Brazil’s growing role globally and the reform of the United Nations.
Rice said the United States “very much welcomes” Brazil’s emergence as a global leader; she applauded Brazil’s “excellent work” leading the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
Reform of the U.N., she said, is “one of the most important topics facing the world.” The secretary said she and Amorim spent a good portion of the meeting discussing U.N. reform, including reform of the Security Council and the Human Rights Commission.
Following is a transcript of Rice’s and Amorim’s remarks:
MODERATOR: At this time I’d like to give the floor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Ambassador Celso Amorim, and to the Secretary of the State of the United States, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, for their introductory remarks to the press, following which Chancellor Amorim and Secretary of State Rice will answer three questions to be made by the journalists attending this session.
FOREIGN MINISTER AMORIM: Good afternoon. Actually, it’s almost good evening. First of all, I’d like to, in public, extend my words of welcome to the U.S. Secretary of State, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, in her first visit in her capacity as Secretary of State.
We know she has come to Brazil before in different capacities and may I say that this visit obviously involves a number of other appointments. Actually, in the next few minutes we should be leaving this auditorium to the Presidential Palace, where she will be meeting with the President of the Republic.
But I’d like to state for the record that we have sustained a conversation in the past few minutes and have highlighted the following points, namely the importance of our two countries, countries that have tremendous affinity or convergence when it comes to democracy, that is in the mutual determination to continue working together with a view to – working together in such as a way as to respect our mutual sovereignty and work to the effect of strengthening democracy in our continent.
We made reference, remembered the situations in which the U.S. and Brazil have cooperated and in which we do intend to continue cooperation from now onwards.
We also talked about trade issues and have underscored the importance of – and we have likewise underscored the importance of cooperation between our two countries at the WTO level. All of us know that, indeed, WTO is of utmost importance, not only for Brazil but also for the U.S.
Once again, we have highlighted that our interests are largely shared, perhaps not entirely shared but very largely our interests can be described as being shared, common interests when it comes to the WTO related issues, especially as regards the strengthening of the multilateral trade system and the success of the Doha round.
Also on the trade front, reference in our conversation was made to the importance of resuming strongly the FTAA negotiating process as part of the overall framework agreed upon in Miami.
We also discussed the reasons why the FTAA negotiations have not yet made so much progress over the past few months.
At any rate, the fact is that we do agree that we should resume strongly the FTAA negotiations while always respecting, of course, the different or the differing timelines or timetables that may have to apply given the different negotiating fora in which we are also involved.
Accordingly, I also used the opportunity to explain – not that Secretary Rice required any explanation, but I used the opportunity to expand on my explanation describing the importance of the South American integration process and the importance of such integration processes, not only for South American countries but also with a view to ensuring for a fully democratic consolidation of democracy in these countries of the region.
We also talked about other topics in the world agenda today and we also talked about the proposed reform of the United Nations. I would say that at a conceptual level, without necessarily having delved into specific details, I think it is fair to say that at the conceptual level we do share very similar ideas indeed.
So in a nutshell, in summary, these are essentially the topics we have covered in our conversation. We also talked about other initiatives undertaken by the Brazilian diplomacy as well as by the Brazilian diplomatic corps and the U.S. diplomacy.
In the case of the Brazilian diplomacy we talked about the upcoming Arab country South American summit meeting and the objectives of the upcoming meeting.
The underlying purpose of this upcoming summit is, of course, ultimately geared towards cooperation but, of course, if we can prove instrumental in building peace in the region that will be, of course, an important byproduct, if you will.
Finally, we have also agreed on the content of an important document which will be made available to you following the interview. The document is about our support to democracy at its different dimensions, not only as regards freedoms but also as regards social justice, social equity. And we have made two specific references to Haiti and Ecuador.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Minister. Thank you very much for the warm reception that I have received here in Brazil. I look forward to the meeting with President Lula in a few minutes to continue our discussions about the very important common agenda that Brazil and the United States share.
An agenda that looks to the further march of democracy in this hemisphere and, in fact, in the world; that looks to the expansion of opportunities for free trade and economic development, efforts that should hopefully, as the Monterrey consensus recently said, help democratic states to provide to even their most marginal citizens the opportunity for greater development and greater prosperity.
And in that regard, I said to the Minister that the example of Brazil, where President Lula and his administration have led policies that everyone sees as economically sound, yet policies that have been concerned about those at the margins of life, the people who are the poorest, the people who need educational opportunity, the people who need health care, that that has been a very important contribution that Brazil has made in recent years under President Lula’s leadership.
We talked on the basis, of course, of our common values, our democratic values, values that are shared not just in terms of our political systems but in terms of our multi-ethnicity as democracies.
Brazil shares with the United States, of course, varied cultural backgrounds, including from Latin backgrounds, indigenous backgrounds, African and European, something that very few countries share.
And the wonderful colorful diversity of Brazil is always on display and we share that and it’s something that in a day when in many societies difference is a license to kill, it is wonderful to see a democracy in which people of so many backgrounds are, in fact, working toward a common future.
We talked about Brazil’s role here in the region but also Brazil’s growing global role and I assured the Minister, as I will assure President Lula, that the United States very much welcomes the strengthening role of Brazil.
It has been demonstrated in many ways, including in the very excellent work that Brazil has been doing in leading the U.N. mission in Haiti, a very important effort to give to the Haitian people an opportunity for stability and then an opportunity to build a democracy and a better future.
We talked also about a number of challenges in the region, states that are challenged, challenged politically, challenged economically, and about our common desire to help.
And I might just say, Minister, that we discussed Ecuador and discussed the fact that there is an OAS mission that is trying to help the people of Ecuador to find a way forward to a constitutional and democratic process.
And I might note also that there is a South American delegation that has – the so-called troika – that is also involved in trying to help the Ecuadorian people. And so we promised to stay in very close contact about that most recent situation but with an eye toward the stability and prosperity of the entire region.
Finally, we had an opportunity to discuss other areas of interest, like the Middle East, and I assured the Minister that the role that the United States will play in trying to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but also in trying to promote reform in the broader Middle East is one that we take both seriously and actively.
And I informed the Minister that the Quartet will be meeting very soon to try to push forward that very important agenda. I know it is an area that the Minister himself has had a personal interest in and so we had a chance to talk about that.
But again, thank you very much for the opportunity to be here. Brazil is a great country, a great set of cultures and a wonderful friend who I think, with the United States and with others, can help to build a more democratic, prosperous and peaceful hemisphere and a more democratic, prosperous and peaceful world. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Minister Celso Amorim and Secretary Condoleezza Rice will now answer four questions: two by press representatives of Brazil and two by journalists from the United States. The names of journalists have been determined by the press representatives themselves. I would like each journalist to ask no more than just one question.
At this time I’d like to give the floor to journalist George Gedda with the Associated Press Agency for the first question.
QUESTION: Do you share the U.S. concern about the erosion of democracy in Venezuela, the apparent centralization of power in apparent violations of some of the Democratic Charter of the OAS?
FOREIGN MINISTER AMORIM: Well, I’m going to go ahead and answer that question in Portuguese so that the Brazilian press too can hear my answer, but I will wait until such time as the U.S. journalist has his translation equipment on. I just note you have followed the translations and the question was translated into Portuguese. The question is about Venezuela and the political process.
We have had the opportunity to talk about Venezuela and although we have also said that we do not intend to turn Venezuela into the only or main subject matter of our meetings and our agendas, we have also, of course, a number of other topics.
The Secretary also received the descriptions of our view of the process, always, of course, respecting the sovereignty of Venezuela, and I indicated how Brazil can possibly contribute toward a democratic resolution of the situation including, for example, possible international intervention in the case of a repeal-oriented referendum.
Evidently enough, in every society, like any other society, problems exist and these problems should be discussed by the Venezuelan people. And anything we can do towards a positive development, always respecting the sovereignty of this neighboring country, we are willing to do so and we have stressed that we will continue talking about Venezuela.
We are friends with Venezuela and with the Venezuelan people, and both countries are therefore interested in assuring that the developments in Venezuela will move towards harmonious, democratic solutions.
MODERATOR: At this time I’d like to give the floor to journalist Denise
Chrispim Marin with the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper for a question.
QUESTION: I’m sorry. Good afternoon, Secretary of State. Good afternoon, Minister Amorim. I would like to know how the United States and Brazil can possibly work together as regards serious threats against democracy in South America, as has been the case in Bolivia, for example, and as we have seen in the case of Ecuador, for instance, and more particularly as regards the domestic measures adopted by President Chavez in Venezuela?
On the same matter, Secretary Rice, I would like to know from you whether the U.S. is somehow disturbed about the success of political support or tokens of support given by President Lula to President Chavez over the past few months. This question has been formulated as a result of a joint consensus between Brazilian journalists and the foreign press residing in Brazil.
SECRETARY RICE: We have in this hemisphere a Democracy Charter and that Democracy Charter is actually very clear about the obligations of democratically elected governments to govern democratically.
And what we do through the OAS, what we do through our bilateral relations with countries like Brazil and with others, is to try and make sure that this hemisphere and all states within it are living up to that Democratic Charter.
It is a remarkable development when you think about the last 20 or so years as to how far this hemisphere has come because the fact that you can go to the OAS or to the Summit of the Americas and there is only one empty chair, and that is Cuba, is a remarkable development and it says something about the ability and the willingness of the people of Latin America to pursue democratic – their democratic rights. It says something about the emergence of enlightened governments that have lived up to that Charter.
It does come with its challenges and in a number of the countries that you mentioned there are obviously political, economic and social challenges that have made those democratic states very fragile. And it is our responsibility as members of the hemisphere who are associated with the Democratic Charter to try and be helpful to those states as they try and work their way through these difficulties.
It is why the recent events in Guatemala – I’m sorry, in Ecuador have led us to a level of cooperation with the OAS, with members of South American states, to try and reach out to the Ecuadorian people and, indeed, to the government there to see if we can help them to get on a path toward a stable democracy.
It is why there have been concerns about Bolivia but why there has been support for Bolivia as it goes through this extremely difficult time.
And as the Minister said, we all want there to be a free and completely democratic Venezuela. That is what this hemisphere should be about. And the issues with Venezuela are not issues between the United States and Venezuela, or Venezuela and Brazil; they are issues about the freedom and democracy and institutions that should – that the Venezuelan people should have that right.
But I just want to underscore something that the Minister said. All of this has to be understood in the context of pursuing a positive agenda for this hemisphere.
That means an agenda that is devoted to democratic governance along with – in accordance with the Democratic Charter. It means pursuing the economic opportunities that free trade, whether it is at the global level through the WTO, the regional level with the FTAA, the work that we have each done within our own regions, whether it is South America or North America, to try to extend free trade benefits.
It means pursuing economic policies that are pro-growth, that have sound macroeconomic fundamentals and it means pursuing, as the Monterrey consensus noted, the policies that will allow people to really start to benefit from those economic policies and from economic growth.
And that means the promotion of good governance, of policies of non-corruption, of health care and fighting for educational opportunities for people. It’s the human development side.
And I’m quite sure that if we pursue that positive agenda in this hemisphere and pursue it together with partners like Brazil, that we will create an environment in which there are stronger democracies, not so many that are fragile.
There are always going to be difficult circumstances and challenges, but our job has to be as members of this hemisphere to pursue policies that give democracy a chance not just to hold elections but to then actually provide for its people and to resist then the siren song of kind of easy solutions that sound good but, in fact, are not based in economic reality.
MODERATOR: At this time I would like to give the floor to journalist Rosalind Jordan with the NBC Television Network.
QUESTION: This is a two-part question for Secretary Rice. Madam Secretary, as recently as yesterday you reiterated your support for John Bolton to be the next American Ambassador to the United Nations, but there is still a continuing daily stream of reporting – some of it salacious in nature, some of it perhaps founded – not just about allegations about Mr. Bolton’s management style but perhaps more troublingly to some analysts and to some observers, about his alleged attempts to distort or exaggerate the results of U.S. intelligence for political or ideological goals.
Why doesn’t this stream of daily allegations, for lack of a better word, give you or President Bush pause about his nomination? And the follow-up would be: Why do you believe that his nomination to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. would actually help President Bush’s foreign policy objectives?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, on the second point, Rosalind, the President and, indeed, I believed at the time when John Bolton was nominated that he was the best person to take on the U.N. role for the United States at a critical time, and we still believe that that is the case.
I just spent a good portion of my meeting with the Foreign Minister talking about U.N. reform. This is one of the most important topics facing the world at this point because we all want the United Nations to be as strong as possible, as capable in the 21st century of dealing with threats like terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and dealing with the concerns about poverty alleviation and social justice, and dealing with the multiple problems that we have in the international community.
We’ve been talking about Security Council reform. We’ve talked about the need to reform or to think about a peace-building commission. We’ve talked about the need to reform the Human Rights Commission. These are fundamental reforms of one of the most important organizations ever created by humankind and the United States needs a strong voice at the U.N. in that debate. That’s why John Bolton was selected for this job and we continue to believe he’s the right person for this job.
Now, as to the stories and allegations – some of them have been made publicly, some of them are whispers – I think that we have a process. The committee has examined these. We have made at the State Department people available who have direct knowledge of any of these issues. We have worked overtime to try to answer the questions of the committee, as has John. And we will continue to try to answer questions that people might have.
But the fact is that this is somebody with almost 20 years of public service. He has been a capable diplomat by almost every account of his activities. Everybody knows that he was important in getting the Proliferation Security Initiative through, that he was important in the repeal of the Zionism as Racism resolution in the U.N., which was really one of the darkest moments in the U.N.’s history, that he was important in carrying out the execution of the Moscow Treaty which cut radically U.S. and Russian nuclear forces. This is a very, very good diplomat.
We need at the United Nations a strong voice and everybody knows that the U.N. needs reform. It’s no secret that the U.N. needs reform. So, we would like to get through this process. We respect the advise-and-consent function of the Senate. It is time, though, to put this to the Senate and to get a vote so that hopefully we can put the person that the President and I both believe is the man to do this very important job at the U.N. so that we can get on with this.
MODERATOR: At this time I would like to give the floor to journalist Martha Cohela (ph) with the (inaudible) Television Network for the last question.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Secretary Condoleezza Rice. Good afternoon, Minister Celso Amorim.
Secretary Rice, just a few minutes ago Minister Amorim said that the FTAA was one of the topics covered in your conversation. I’d like to know how can this issue evolve and move forward concretely speaking, since President Lula da Silva has announced that the FTAA is no longer in the president agenda.
And my second question is the following: How does the U.S. view the upcoming summit meeting between Arab countries and South American countries next month? This question has already been addressed as a result of joint consensus between Brazilian journalists and foreign correspondents. Thank you.
MINISTER AMORIM: I think I must say something before Secretary Rice has the floor to give us her response because the second one has already been fully clarified, but the fact is that when President Lula da Silva said that the FTAA is no longer on the agenda, actually he used the word “pauta” in Portuguese, and as you know, “pauta” in Portuguese refers to the agenda of journalists, not the government agenda, because it is no longer an ideological controversial issue in terms of knowing who is for it and who is against the FTAA.
The issue now or the question now is no longer knowing or finding out who is for or who is against, but rather the question lies in how to best negotiate an FTAA agreement that will be good for all parties or both parties.
I think this clarification is important because I’m not sure whether Secretary Rice reads all press reports and it’s all too important that she, too, be made aware of what our interpretation is of his comments. I think it is a truthful interpretation because I have talked in person to the President and that is his own personal interpretation.
SECRETARY RICE: The FTAA is an important agreement. We also are working very hard on the WTO. We’ve had very good cooperation and I want to thank Minister Amorim, who has that portfolio and has worked very closely with then U.S. Trade Representative Bob Zoellick, now Deputy Secretary of State, on the WTO.
And I think we, as a result, made some progress. So, the WTO is very important. The FTAA is very important. And we did talk about how we might reenergize our efforts to make progress on the FTAA and I think we will share ideas about how to reenergize that within the framework that was recently agreed to.
This is not a matter of competition of elements of free trade. There ought to be as much free trade as possible. We have free trade agreements in the region. We have free trade agreements in other regions.
We have, for instance, a free trade agreement with Central America and the Dominican Republic that we very much would like to get through our Congress because we think it’s important to both the economic and political stability of that region.
Free trade is important because it is one of the most important engines for economic growth and all countries need economic growth in order to be able to provide for their people. And so this is not a question of do we do this or do we do that.
We ought to try and do as much as possible in free trade, and the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas was an important initiative recognizing the potential power of a freely trading Western Hemisphere and we intend to pursue it. And I was pleased to hear the Foreign Minister bring this up with me when we sat down to talk.
As to the summit with the Arab states, we very much want to see more interaction between the Arab world and other parts of the world. It is a region that’s going through tremendous change at this point. It is a region that needs reform – economic, political, social.
That has been recognized by Arab intellectuals. It has been recognized by a number of states in the region. There are, indeed, reform efforts going on in that region and I think it’s well understood that a region that has 22 countries with the GDP of Spain needs economic reform and they are taking on that challenge.
We, ourselves, have had recent free trade agreements with a number of states in the Middle East and we intend to continue to pursue trade and cooperation. I’m very glad that there will be this connection.
The Minister and I talked about the importance of the message that is sent by that kind of interaction and it really does say that there is an understanding that the Arab world is in transition and that reform is an important element of that transition.
And similarly on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, there is an international consensus through the Quartet about the next steps ahead on the Road Map.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
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