TheÂ Camp David meeting, this Saturday, March 31, between American President George W. Bush and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva produced optimistic statements and vague promises, but no concrete results for Brazil, whichÂ wanted an end to the tariff charged Brazilian ethanol in the US market. Neither there was any hint that the United States will reduce soon its farm subsidies.
Bush said that the US would like to cut those subsidies as long as Brazil opens its markets for more American goods and services. Since both sides seem intent in not budging there was no room for real progress beyond rhetoric.
What follows is the transcript of both presidents talks after the Saturday meeting:
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, welcome to Camp David. Laura and I are delighted you're here. This is a special spot for Laura and me, and it was my honor to welcome you to this part of America. You come as a friend, we welcome you as a friend, and our discussions were very friendly.
We talked about a lot of areas of mutual concern. We talked about what I would call mutual opportunities. We talked about, of course, trade. Brazil and America trade a lot. Perhaps the most compelling part of the opportunity to work together is for the Doha Round. It's in the U.S. interest that we complete the Doha Round successfully. It is in — I think it's in Brazil's interest — at least that's the way the President has told me. I don't want to put words in his mouth. But it is in our interest to work together to make sure that we have a deal that treats Brazil fairly, the United States fairly, as well as other nations fairly.
President George W. Bush and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva shake hands at the conclusion of their joint news conference Saturday, March 31, 2007, at Camp David. White House photo by Eric Draper I strongly believe that the best way to help alleviate world poverty is through trade. And so we had yet another constructive dialogue. We had a good dialogue there in S o Paulo, and here at Camp David we had, as well. Interestingly enough, we announced the creation of a U.S.-Brazil CEO forum. It's a opportunity for people in our respective countries to get to know each other better and to strengthen economic ties, as well as social ties.
We talked about biofuels. I can remember very well, Mr. President, going to the Petrobras plant. It's an amazing facility. It was exciting for me to see the realities of your biofuels industry firsthand. I'm a big believer in alternative fuels. There's a whole new industry here in the United States beginning to spring up. And I told the President that not only are we committed domestically to promoting a alternative fuel industry, we're committed to working with Brazil. And that's why we support the President's initiative on the international biofuels forum, as well as the initiative that we talked about in São Paulo, and signed a memorandum of understanding, and that is to help nations in our own hemisphere realize the benefits of ethanol and biodiesel.
I appreciate the President's very strong commitment to democracy. I also appreciate his very strong commitment to help nations, particularly on the continent of Africa. And one of the really exciting initiatives that we will work together on is an initiative to eradicate malaria in São Tomé and Príncipe, two opportunities for Brazil and the United States to work together to improve somebody's life. There is no excuse for malaria to continuing to kill as many people as it does.
Our great nations can work together to stop that death. There is a reasonable plan in place. It's a plan that I'm confident can achieve great success, and it makes a lot of sense for Brazil and the United States to work toward that plan.
As I said in São Paulo, Mr. President, I appreciate very much your leadership on Haiti. I appreciate the fact that you've led the U.N. Stabilization Force. We want to, of course, make sure that your efforts to bring security are followed up by opportunity for the people of Haiti. We don't want your forces to be there to simply stabilize, we want your force to leave — be a part of a constructive future, which is precisely your vision. And we want to work with you very closely to achieve that end.
President George W. Bush listens as Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva answers a reporter's question during their joint news conference Saturday, March 31, 2007, at Camp David. White House photo by Eric Draper We spent a lot of time talking about other parts of the world. And that's what you would expect when the United States and Brazil sit at the same table. Brazil is an influential nation, and it's an important nation. And I really do appreciate so very much your — sharing your strategic thoughts about not only our own neighborhood, but other parts of the world.
And so, Mr. President, it's with great pleasure that I welcome you here. I'm looking forward to giving you a tour of Camp David. We've been spending too much time doing business; now we need to do a little pleasure. And after this press conference, you and I will take a little tour, and then I'll feed you a meal, if you're hungry.
PRESIDENT LULA: Your Excellency, Mr. George W. Bush, the President of the United States; Madam First Lady Laura Bush; Madam Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Ambassador Celso Amorim, and other ministers from Brazil; ladies and gentlemen; members of the Brazilian delegation and the U.S. delegation; newspaper representatives, press representatives. First of all, I would like to thank President Bush for the invitation. My visit to Camp David made it possible for us to cope with issues of global, regional, and bilateral interest.
I believe that the 21st century will be marked by changes that we will have to undertake, and also for the improvement of the things that we did right in the 20th century. We don't have anymore the Cold War amongst us. We don't experience anymore the bipolarity that affected our lives during half a century. And so now we should try to do in the 21st century, make it the century of inclusion of those that are disenfranchised in the 20th century. And I am talking about the less developed countries in Latin America, of South America, of Africa and of Asia.
And we also have a subject matter that we have to cope in the 21st century that we did not cope well in the 20th century, and that could pervade our relations for the next years. That is the issue of climate change that affects the planet Earth. Twenty years ago, when we were warned about the problems that we were causing to the world, we used to put the blame on those that were making this warning. We criticized them. We said that they weren't responsible. And we criticized sometimes minority groups that went to the streets with their banners and flags, advocating for environmental preservation.
Now has come the time for all the countries in the world to take very seriously climate change and environmental issues. Why so? Because humanity faces one of the major risks in its history. Global warming is a reality that threatens us by land, by the air, and by the water, a dilemma that ironically embraces all of us, no matter where in the planet Earth. The issue is frightening and very concrete, and a problem of today. But its solution is still feasible. And part of the solution is in our reach.
We have talked already about this twice. We have talked about biofuels, and about our determination in deepening the cooperation in this sector. The memorandum of understanding that was signed in S o Paulo is the basis of an ambitious partnership that will make it possible for us to confront the major challenges of this century that is now beginning: First of all, the resolution of the energy crisis that affects almost all countries in the world; secondly, the environment protection threatened by the global warming of the planet; and finally, poverty relief and social exclusion with the creation of new jobs and expanding the workers' income for the poorest workers of the world.
We intend to send our scientists and experts from Brazil to research centers in the U.S., and vice versa. We will create a fund with the support of international agencies, so that we can finance the cooperation with the most needy and interest [sic] countries. We're also committed to the strengthening of the international biofuel forum. I invited the United States to participate in an international conference on the issue that Brazil will host in the year 2008.
The concern with the environment is growing in Brazil and in the world, and above all, especially after the latest reports from the U.N. Panel on Climate Change. The stimulus for sustainable production of biofuels is a decisive part of this endeavor to resolve this issue. The biofuels offer equally a unique opportunity for the energy democratization of the world to diversify sources of production. We also have obtained good results in different areas.
It's important to say to President Bush, here in Camp David, in his residence, that, for me, the biofuel issue is almost like an obsession. I don't know why, but we already have talked about — or heard about biofuels since 1925. Already was mentioned biodiesel in 1943 in Brazil. Nevertheless, since we didn't have the dimension, the scope of the evils that oil could cause, or any other kind of energy matrix to the world — because also oil was very cheap in those days — this was not taken forward by any country, neither by the automobile industry of any country. And now we are facing a period, a moment, where this new energy matrix can make the world more independent.
It can make the world creating more wealth, because the experience that we have in Brazil is that for each worker that works in a biodiesel plant, it is necessary 1,000 workers in the countryside, which means that we can create millions of jobs for the less developed countries in the world that was not foreseen in any paper that was signed by us in the 20th century.
In Brazil, in the last four years, we managed to reduce the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest 52 percent. More than two million hectares have been saved. Please pay attention. And carbon gas emissions have been reduced in more than 400 tons, emissions to the atmosphere. And we know that the rainforests are amongst the great victims of climate change. In the negotiations on the Convention on Climate Change, we proposed financial incentives to reduce carbon gas emissions per ton, resulting in further reductions of deforestation. We expect that our proposal would have the support of international community, and obviously, especially and mainly from the U.S.
We first can establish a partnership either for promoting biofuels, and also in fighting the investigation of the global warming, and of deforestation itself with full respect to the sovereignty of each country.
Brazil has the largest and most important biodiversity on the planet. We have the consciousness of the value that this natural asset represents for our country and for the world. Brazil, with 383 million hectares of arable land has the capacity to reconcile food production, biofuel production and the defense of our forests. Our well-known commitment to fight hunger does not allow us that any activity would cause damage to the food production. I should say, and President Bush knows very well, and also know, and I believe that all rulers are aware that the world hunger does not result from a lack of food. Rather, it has more to do with the — (inaudible) — distribution of income and the lack of political will.
Talking with President Bush about the concern of my government to fight hunger and poverty, I mentioned our concern with the Doha Round of the WTO. It is central in our struggle against poverty. And I leave Camp David with the certainty that I've never seen in all the previous conversations that I had with President Bush, or with Madam Condoleezza Rice, I never have left a meeting between us with so much optimism as I am this way, that I believe we're getting closer than we have ever been before to reach an agreement during the Doha Round of the WTO.
We are trying to conclude with success these trade negotiations. We have urgency in reach, and ambitious and balanced agreements. The continuation of agriculture subsidies makes food more expensive and does not stimulate its production in the less developed countries. Without eliminating subsidies, the opportunity of development represented by biofuels would be lost. And with that, the possibility of the improvement of living conditions of hundreds of millions of lives of men and women.
So that's why it's necessary to eliminate the trade barriers to ethanol, so that we can really reach a true energy commodity. I dream that, at the most, 15 to 20 years from now, that the world will surrender to the biofuels. So those that believe in that, they start to invest today and now, because if they leave it for the future, they're going to lag behind and they're going to lose the train, and possibly they will be lagging behind in the history of modernization.
Dear friends, naturally, I have spoken with President Bush about the Brazilian concern on the limited progress of the U.N. reform. This is where we have more divergence. But in politics, if there's no divergence, if it's not interesting to work with politics, to being politics [sic], but I really wanted, truly, to say to President Bush what was Brazil's view. And President Bush told me what his vision was.
And we reached a conclusion, and certainly it's not an agreement yet, that the U.N. reform still will have to undertake other reforms that we have to undertake within the U.N. itself so that we can guarantee the U.N. Security Council reform. Since I only have 61 years of age, and I have another four years of my term, I am convinced that it won't take a long time for us to see this council changed and the U.N. reformed. I know that it is a highly complex issue. But we cannot postpone it anymore. I am certain that the dialogue between our countries will contribute to forward the issue in a much more faster and appropriate way.
We also talked about other issues on the international agenda, as the situation in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon. And maybe many of you don't know, and I told President Bush that, that in Brazil, we have a community of more than 10 million inhabitants of Lebanese and Syrian ancestry. And so that's why we have been trying to attend all the fora that deal with this issue. And within our possibilities, we try to cooperate to rebuild Lebanon.
We also have tried to help the construction of a viable Palestinian state while, at the same time, respect Israel's right to exist.
Ladies and gentlemen, we approached important issues in our regional agenda, and I told to President Bush that we have to do more for Haiti. And, in this case, it's interesting to remember that we have reached already agreements not only to work together with Haiti, and work together with the Dominican Republic, and work together in countries like São Tomé and Príncipe in Africa, and in Guinea-Bissau in Africa. And if these experiments are successful, these joint partnerships, this joint work, I believe that we'll have much more room for us to build other projects between the U.S. and Brazil, so that we can help third party countries.
We also agreed that the cooperation with biofuels in Haiti could be decisive to that country. It's not suffice to be the armed forces from Brazil, Chile, Argentina in Haiti, leading the stabilization mission of the U.N. We need to guarantee democracy in Haiti, governance. It's necessary to guarantee their security, but if we don't have development and jobs, all of that will disappear very quickly.
I also told President Bush that Brazil invests firmly in South American integration. I should say, President Bush, this is another thing that I pursued since the first year of my term. If we want to guarantee democracy in South America, if we want to guarantee South American development, if we want to guarantee the strengthening of institutions in South America, we have to have the consciousness that fiscal integration is a basic addition for the development of the region. And maybe, who knows, the United States can be a partner of Brazil and of other countries in South America in the fiscal integration that we so much are in need.
And we understand that this is what will guarantee development for the region and will guarantee democracy, and so will open the opportunities that we did not have years ago for us to develop ourselves.
We are obtaining extraordinary advances vis-í -vis integration, expanding trade and making all the infrastructure work that we can develop. The bottom line is that we're getting closer ties to our people that were very much far away from each other in the past. And so now we're getting closer. And so that's why I invited President Bush from the United States to become a partner in this integration process and building the fiscal integration of our continent.
I also mentioned to President Bush an important role that United States can play with South American countries that are living in special situations, especially those that need trade preferences. It is extremely important for the U.S. to support these countries that need these trade preferences. We need to support them because this will guarantee the regional stability that is the interest to Brazil and all the countries in South America, and certainly this is the interest of the U.S., too.
Together, we can provide aid to those countries that are still needy, especially in Africa. I have already mentioned the agreement that we signed with Guinea-Bissau and for São Tomé and Príncipe.
The challenge, President Bush, in the world of today, in trade, in security, in the environment and fighting poverty are immense. To resolve these issues, there is only one way; it is through dialogue, with a frank and mutually respectful dialogue. That's the only way. With this objective, I have been saying to President Bush that I am willing to gather with him as many times as necessary, and with all the heads of government around the world, as many times would be necessary so that we can, in the 21st century, arouse a little bit of hope in part of the poorest population in the planet. We have in our hands and our reach the power to do so. We will not do it if we don't wish to do so.
So that's why before we answer questions from the press with President Bush, I would like to convey to President Bush that, of all the meetings that I participated, meetings with American government, this was the meeting that was the most productive one. If someone asked me, what are you taking back to Brazil, I would say, nothing, I'm not taking back anything to Brazil; but certainly, the agreements that we have signed today, the agreements that we can still sign from here onwards, can guarantee in a definite way that the relations between U.S. and Brazil, not only is necessary, but it is strategic so that we can consolidate a new development model, a new trade policy, and, above all, a new way to cope with the very serious, severe issues that affect the planet.
So, for all that, thank you very much.
Q The Attorney General's chief of staff testified that Gonzales knew more about the U.S. attorney firings than he let on. How can the American people have confidence in an Attorney General who isn't completely forthright? How long does he have to repair the damage, and can the damage be repaired?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Attorney General Gonzales is an honorable and honest man, and he has my full confidence. He is providing documents for Congress to find the truth. He will testify in front of Congress, and he will tell the truth.
The U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the United States President. I named them to four-year terms. They served their four-year terms. And I appreciate their service. I'm sorry that this — these hearings and all this stuff have besmirched their reputation. That was certainly not the intent of anybody in this administration. But I will remind you, there is no credible evidence that there has been any wrongdoing.
Q The goodwill between you gentlemen is very evident. President Lula, it is also evident the effort to advance with the Doha Round. If the Doha Round has not reached success, Brazil, does it have a B plan?
President Bush, what is the impediment, or what would be the impediment for the United States to have a bilateral agreement on trade with Brazil?
PRESIDENT LULA: Well, I have said to all the heads of state in government that I have been in contact: to President Bush, to Tony Blair, and to Chancellor Angela Merkel, to Prime Minister Prodi, and to President Chirac — with all I have been talking to, I have said that the Doha Round is not important only for Brazil, it's not important only for the United States, it's important so that we can guarantee hope around the world, and especially the certainty that we will have more peace in the world.
Brazil is a competitive country in agriculture. Brazil, today, 50 percent of its exports are semi-industrialized goods. And so we do have competitiveness conditions. President Bush knows, and I know, and I believe that all the leaders know, that when we talk about agreements at the WTO, we are making — endeavor at the Doha Round — we are working especially so that the less developed countries could have an opportunity, a chance. Of course, we can improve our relations when Brazil makes decisions about industrialized products, or in the service industry. Of course, we could improve when the United States takes a position about what kind of subsidy will be reduced, or the European Union could say, if they're going to accept or not agricultural goods — reduce the subsidy so that the markets of the less developed countries could have market access to Europe.
If we don't reach an agreement, Brazil will continue to follow the path that it's followed: working, producing more, and selling, and also buying. But certainly, those that will suffer more will be those that don't even have the opportunity to participate in the meetings that other countries have the power to do so.
I have made these appeals, and I believe that that's why I said, leaving here, leaving Camp David, I'm leaving here very satisfied because this was an extraordinary and productive meeting, because I heard the intention of the American government on this issue. Our is — we have full willingness, and I believe that if we work together, the U.S. and Brazil, to try to convince our European partners, I believe that we can reach an agreement.
And I believe that, in this case, there's no B plan; either we have the A plan, or there's no agreement. And if there's no agreement, certainly we will not have winners or losers — everybody will lose. Everybody will lose. The rich, because they will be liable for what will happen in a poorest [sic] world.
PRESIDENT BUSH: All our trade discussions have centered on completing Doha. It's the only discussions I've had with the President. I've been asked about Plan B's before, on different subjects. And that kind of means you're willing to retreat. I'm a Plan A man, just like the President is. Let's get the job done.
And for the United States, we're willing to reduce our agricultural subsidies in a substantial way. We understand. On the other hand, we expect our goods and services — whether they be agricultural goods or manufactured goods — and services to be given access to markets. The interesting thing is, is that Brazil is a strong exporter, and it's in Brazil's interest that their goods and services be — have access to markets, as well.
This is a difficult negotiation because there's a variety of interests. And step one is — to be successful in these complex negotiations, is there a genuine desire to succeed. In other words, are people just showing up for the sake of showing up, or are people actually coming to the table with a genuine desire to succeed? I assured the President again that the United States has a genuine desire to succeed in these talks. I do, because I believe that, one, I think the world has a tendency at times to become isolationist and protectionist. In other words, that movement, that isolationist movement can become prevalent. And if that were to happen, it would make the world a lot more unstable, and it would make the world more poor.
I'm going to repeat what I told you earlier: Ours is a very compassionate nation. We deeply care about the human condition around the world. And I firmly believe that the best way to alleviate world poverty is through trade. That's what I believe. It's not the only way, but it is the best start — let me put it to you that way — coupled with health initiatives that we're working on, food initiatives that the President described. But if you're generally [sic] interested in eliminating poverty — and I am — commerce, trade, opportunity and hope will all flourish with the completion of the Doha Round.
So we are seriously involved. Now, what we won't do is accept a unilateral deal. And the President has never asked us to do that, that's not his intention. His intention is we want to work together to make sure all are treated fairly. I certainly hope that's the case with the rest of our potential trading partners and our negotiating partners, that they don't expect the United States to carry the entire load in making sure the agreement moves forward.
So we strategized together. Our ministers will talk a lot. Ambassador Schwab stayed behind in S o Paulo to converse with her counterparts. There is a lot of work going on. And I believe there's a good chance we can complete the round.
And so, therefore, your Plan B will be irrelevant, I hope.
Q Mr. President, the Iranian hostage crisis has just entered its 9th day. Would the British be within their rights to consider a military option if the crisis drags on? And would the U.S. have considered it an act of war if it had been U.S. sailors and Marines who had been taken? And would you consider trading the five Iranians who were captured in Irbil back in January if it would help resolve the crisis?
And, Mr. President, did you see eye-to-eye with the President on global warming? Would you say that you two agree that global warming is a problem? Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Let me start with global warming. One reason you promote alternative fuels is to be better stewards of the environment. Many of the greenhouse gases come from tailpipes of automobiles. And therefore, when you get away from gasoline and start using ethanol or biofuels, you make a significant step toward improving environment — just to make sure I'm on the record here.
The Iranian issue is a serious issue. It's serious because — the British hostages issue is a serious issue because the Iranians took these people out of Iraqi water. And it's inexcusable behavior. And I strongly support the Blair government's attempts to resolve this peacefully. And I support the Prime Minister when he made it clear there were no quid pro quos. The Iranians must give back the hostages. They're innocent, they were doing nothing, and they were summarily plucked out of water. And it is — as I say, it's inexcusable behavior.
PRESIDENT LULA: Well, I believe that we are in agreement in relationship to the policies that we have to undertake so that we should be more careful and take better care of the environment. And on the climate change issues discussions, we have common interests. What happens is that — to know the timing and what to do. Now, in the case of Brazil, we already have 25 percent of ethanol, or better to say, 23 percent of ethanol blended, or as a blender, in gasoline for a long time. Now we have a flex-fuel engine, a car moved by flex-fuel engine that can use 100 percent of gas or 100 percent of ethanol or 50 percent of alcohol, 50 percent of ethanol as blended.
So this is the road where we start to de-pollute. And then it's not only the ethanol issue or the biofuel issue. There is also the electrical hydro-power plants. We also have to have the responsibility to build thermal plants based on coal, moved by coal. And so it's essential that the company should invest more in reducing gas emissions.
So the fact of the matter is the following: that the climate change issue today is a severe disease. There's no social sector that it doesn't reach. It will reach all the planet as a whole. There's no way for us to escape. So we have not managed yet to reach Mars, and the moon is not a proper place for us to live. So either we take care of planet Earth very carefully, as we take care of our sons, or all of us will regret that in the future. And although, those already my age — I'm with 61 years of age, but I have grandsons, and I want to have grand-grandsons, and so I want them to have the pride that their grandfather helped to build a better world, better than I received from my father.
So I believe that all of us will reach an agreement that it's necessary and very much so the responsibility and liability in the discussions on climate issues than we have had up until today. The evil is facing us — and we see the evil and we feel the evil, but there's no way that we can turn our back to that.
Q The American government last week manifested a lot of concern with the investments of some foreign companies in the oil industry in Iran. And this week, the American Ambassador in Brazil made it very clear that this concern also extends to Petrobras investments, that Petrobras considers strategic. So I'd like to ask President Lula if in his assessment, Petrobras should continue to make businesses with Iran, or should get away from Iran, like the United States would like us all to do?
So, and I would like to ask President Bush, why does the United States want Petrobras to be out of Iran if the country has fulfilled all its sanctions that was passed by the U.N.?
PRESIDENT LULA: Well, I am convinced that Petrobras will continue to invest in oil prospecting in Iran. Iran has been an important trade partner for Brazil. They buy from us more than $1 billion, and they almost sell anything to us. So I'm an advocate that trade, fair trade is the trade that you buy and sell — you sell and buy. You can't just sell.
And then there's also political issues in each country. Each country faces their own domestic issues. But up until now, Iran has not been a victim of any sanction that was proposed by the U.N. I know that there's political divergence on this between Iran and other countries, but with Brazil, we have no political divergence with them, so we will continue to work together with Iran on what is of the interest of Brazil. I don't see any major issue to do it in a different way.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Every nation makes the decisions that they think is best in their interest. Brazil is a sovereign nation; he just articulated a sovereign decision. And as you mentioned, the trade that you were discussing was not in violation of any U.N. — in any U.N. mandate.
Our position is that we would hope that nations would be very careful in dealing with Iran, particularly since Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and a major threat to world peace is if the Iranians had a nuclear weapon. And that is why there are sanctions imposed at the United Nations as a result of collaboration between the United States, EU, China and Russia, to make it clear to the Iranian regime that there is a better way forward other than isolation.
We have no problems with the Iranian people. As a matter of fact, the United States highly respects the people of Iran. We respect the history of Iran, we respect the rich traditions of Iran. We, however, are deeply concerned about an Iranian government that is in violation of international accords in their attempt to develop a nuclear weapon. And therefore, whatever comments you hear reflect that concern. And we will continue to work with the international community to say that it is in the world's interest that Iran not develop a weapon. It is in the interest of peace that they not develop a weapon.
And I'm hopeful that the people of Iran will be tired of the isolation. I would hope that there would be some rationality amongst their leaders in choosing a better way forward for the people. They're depriving their people of a lot of opportunity.
Now, having said that, the United States does believe that it's in our interest that we have people-to-people exchanges. As I say, we have no problem with the Iranian people. As a matter of fact, we just sent a wrestling team to Iran, all attempting to make it clear to the Iranian people that we're interested in having a constructive relationship, and it is the decisions of their government that are preventing that from happening.