Remarks With Uruguayan President-elect Jose Mujica

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
March 1, 2010

PRESIDENT-ELECT MUJICA: (Via interpreter) Good morning, everybody. On behalf of my home and my country, I want to very especially thank (inaudible), Madam Secretary of State Clinton has had in coming here. Sometime, a short time ago, (inaudible) Secretary of State with whom we have been making (inaudible) like to undertake with the United States in the region. We already have some commercial agreements, but we want to move forward. We want your cooperation in science, especially in research. We are – we (inaudible) research at the universities and we’d like to work together. We offered also our (inaudible) to contribute to whatever can be done to mitigate the unavoidable contradictions that history has imposed, especially in Latin America.

We are – we have to admit that we have prejudices that we sometimes (inaudible) with stereotypes. We were very surprised to see that a black would have become the president of the United States. That is something that we had never thought that it would be possible, and that was out of (inaudible) prejudice on our side. That is a lesson and a very (inaudible) lesson that we learned and that keeps us promoting the changes that have been good (inaudible) in America.

So we wish you the very best in that respect and we want you to know that in the future, we are going to be willing to contribute in the trade of peace. (Inaudible) efforts will be enough to make peace. That is something that we must really to cooperate with. So once again, thank you for coming.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, President-elect. And I am honored to be here on behalf of President Obama and the United States of America. We join you in celebrating the strength of Uruguayan democracy and the progress that your country has made and we know will continue to make in the future.

While today is a day of celebration, it is also a time when our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chile. I will be in Santiago tomorrow to meet with President Bachelet and President-elect Piñera to work with the government and people of Chile in solidarity in recovery from this earthquake.

But now I wish to not only congratulate the president-elect and the new government, but to applaud the way in which the government is unifying and bringing together even opposition parties to work on behalf of the people of Uruguay. Indeed, Uruguayans are rightly proud of their leaders and their democracy and this peaceful and orderly transition of power brought about by an election. Indeed, your country, President-elect Mujica, is a model for many others not only in our hemisphere but throughout the world.

I thank Uruguay for the peacekeepers that you send in large numbers compared to your population. I commend you for the leadership role you are playing as the chair of the Friends of Haiti group. And as you and I discussed, sir, we will be working with you in partnership on behalf of education, science and technology, business, trade, and investment.

So again, sir, it is a deep privilege for me to be back in Uruguay 12 years after my first visit, and to see some familiar faces, but mostly to congratulate you, your new government, and the resolve and democratic values of the people of your country. And of course, Mr. President-elect, it is a personal pleasure to see a first lady who is also a senator. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR: We’ll take two questions, first from Kirit Radia of ABC News.

QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But you should go. Yeah, yeah. I will answer their questions. You have to go to get ready. Yeah, yeah. Thank you, sir.

QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary.


QUESTION: I’d like to ask you more about your trip to Chile. I’d like to know more about what you plan to do (inaudible) today that the Chilean Government is now asking for some assistance. What is the U.S. prepared to do (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, both President Obama and I spoke with President Bachelet shortly after the earthquake, offered whatever assistance the government might need – put on stand-by search-and-rescue teams, other assets that we thought might be needed. They have asked for communications equipment, some of which I am bringing on our plane. Other technical equipment will be flown there in addition. But one of the reasons why they have asked me to continue my trip is to assess whatever else they might need and immediately to begin the process of providing it.

MODERATOR: Second question is from Bill Faries of Bloomberg News.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, welcome to Uruguay.


QUESTION: Argentina is greatly concerned about the beginning of oil drilling, or oil exploration efforts off the coast of the Falkland Islands. I was hoping you could clarify the U.S. position on this. Is – do you believe that this is an issue that the U.S. – perhaps you (inaudible) – that Argentina and the UK should sit down and discuss in terms of the future sovereignty of the islands?

SECRETARY CLINTON: As you know, we’ll be going to Buenos Aires later today. I look forward to meeting with President de Kirchner and discussing a full range of issues. It is our position that this is a matter to be resolved between the United Kingdom and Argentina. If we can be of any help in facilitating such an effort, we stand ready to do so. Thank you all.

PRN: 2010/T23-1