Ranch Crawford, Texas 11:47 A.M. CDT
Our 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 results.
Violent 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.
Colombia 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.
America 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.
Mr. President, thank you for your leadership. Thank you for your friendship, and welcome.
PRESIDENT 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 Texas.
As 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 terrorism.
The 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, cooperation should be realistic and put into practice.
We 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.
We 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.
So 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.
The 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.
The 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.
The fourth element is transparency. 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 them.
The 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.
Thank you once again, President Bush, for your friendship, for your solidarity, and you honor us by welcoming us here to your home.
END 12:15 P.M. CDT
SOURCE White House Press Office -0- 08/04/2005 /CONTACT: White House Press Office, +1-202-456-2580/ /Web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/ CO: White House Press Office ST: District of Columbia, Colombia, Texas IN: SU: EXE FOR MH-PM -- DCTH041 -- 5925 08/04/2005 16:05 EDT http://www.prnewswire.com