Remarks by the President at Signing of U.S.-Venezuela Agreements

Office of the Press Secretary
(Caracas, Venezuela)

For Immediate Release October 13, 1997


Miraflores Palace
Caracas, Venezuela

10:00 A.M. (L)

PRESIDENT CALDERA: This simple ceremony, together with the ceremony that was held yesterday in the Casa Maria in the Foreign Office, mean the commitment of our two countries, Venezuela and the United States, to the signature of important agreements.

We have wanted to benefit from the visit of President Clinton, to be able to put the final words on the negotiations that had been already underway and the documents that have been signed now, and also to advance negotiations regarding other documents where there are still different points of view in both countries. However, all of these negotiations and documents ratify the advisability and the need for our countries to enter into agreements of this nature.

For us, it is a great honor to see the President of the United States enter South America through the gateway of Caracas, and in doing so, ratify his message of goodwill to the people of this hemisphere and of the entire globe.

So we invite all of you present here to accompany us to the National Pantheon, where President Clinton is going to give his message to the hemisphere from the steps of the burial place of the father of our homeland.

Thank you. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON: President Caldera, Foreign Minister Rivas, Energy Minister Arrieta, Dr. Tablante, Secretary

Pena, Secretary Albright, Special Envoy McLarty, to all the Venezuelan and American officials here, ladies and gentlemen.

Mr. President, our hemisphere is coming together in a spirit of mutual respect and equality rooted in democracy, which you have championed for so long. And now we can become a

stronghold for security and prosperity, and an example to the world that market democracies can deliver for all our people.

These agreements on energy and counternarcotics are practical results of the partnership between the United States and Venezuela, which is strong and growing stronger.

Last year Venezuela became the United States' number one supplier of foreign oil. But for the last 80 years, Venezuela has been a rock of stability, staying out of the oil embargo, stepping in to boost production in moments of crisis from World War II to the Gulf War. The investments we have made in each other's energy sectors have created good jobs and spurred innovation in both our countries. The people of the United States are grateful for the benefits of our modern partnership.

Today's energy agreement will strengthen that partnership for tomorrow, helping us to provide cleaner energy from more sources to more people more efficiently.

Let me thank Secretary Pena and Minister Arrieta for their hard work and their teamwork in getting this done, and for the example of leadership they set for our entire hemisphere.

The Alliance Against Drugs we embrace today also enhances our partnership and our future. For throughout the Americas, drugs threaten the very fabric of civil society. They destroy lives. They spread violence to our streets and playgrounds. They corrupt and kill law enforcement officials. They create instability that can sweep across borders. Drugs are not simply a problem for the United States or for Venezuela; they are our common problem, and we must fight back together.

In the United States we are working hard to reduce demand, with the largest antidrug effort in our history. But we must also be relentless in attacking supply. The Alliance Against Drugs is an important step forward. New equipment and training for Venezuela's drug fighters, including patrol boats and surveillance planes; deeper cooperation between our law enforcement communities to speed prosecutions and extraditions; a Joint Intelligence Coordination center to share information and coordinate antidrug operations -- each of these initiatives will make us stronger in the fight against drugs, and our children safer for the future.

Mr. President, Minister Rivas, Dr. Tablante, Secretary Albright, General McCaffrey, thank you for making the United States-Venezuela Alliance Against Drugs a reality. And let me thank all of you here for taking the partnership between our two countries into the 21st century.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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