Remarks With Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Press Conference
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
La Casa Rosada
Buenos Aires, DC, Argentina
March 1, 2010

PRESIDENT DE KIRCHNER: (Via interpreter) (In progress) meeting with Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State of the USA, where we addressed different matters of common interest to our countries. (Inaudible) very much for being in our country (inaudible) overnight here in Argentina, too. We consider that a very good gesture for our country. And we both showed great articulation as to our presence, for instance, in (inaudible), where we could reassert the commitment of both countries. (Inaudible) as to humanitarian aid (inaudible) Haiti, and we have agreed (inaudible) a more thorough strategic (inaudible).

And we also reasserted the historic commitment, the (inaudible) commitment of Argentina to fight against terrorism. As I always say, the U.S. and Argentina are the only two countries in all the (inaudible) that have suffered more than (inaudible). Therefore, both countries have a very strong commitment in this regard and we have reasserted such commitment. And we have also addressed our future participation in the meeting in Washington (inaudible).

And we’ve also talked about the problems of our region. At the end of the meeting, I also thanked her for making public those documents related to the dictatorship in Argentina. And we also requested the U.S. to (inaudible) the issue between Great Britain and (inaudible), so that we can sit down at the table and discuss sovereignty over (inaudible) Malvinas, taking into the interests of the inhabitants of the islands, as stated in the different resolutions adopted by (inaudible) from 1975 (inaudible).

And I (inaudible) to Madam Secretary. It’s been a very pleasant, very respectful (inaudible). She was a senator in – with the state of New York. I visited her in her office. And then we met at the Democratic Convention (inaudible). And on this occasion too, it’s been a very warm and friendly meeting.

MODERATOR: Madam Secretary.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Madam President, for your hospitality and the warm welcome. I am delighted to be back in Argentina, and I thank you for the very warm, broad, comprehensive discussion that we just completed. This is not the first time that we have met, and I especially appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you everything from our joint commitment to help both the people of Haiti and the people of Chile recover from their earthquakes, and to reaffirm our historic ties and the common values and goals that we both feel so strongly about.

I thanked the president for the excellent work that is done by the Argentine doctors and peacekeepers in Haiti. I also thanked her for the leadership that Argentina has shown in reducing and standing against the threat of terrorism, as well as the leadership that your country has demonstrated when it comes to nuclear proliferation. As the president said, both of our countries share the very tragic history of being victims of terrorism, which I think makes us very strong in acting together along with other partners to rid the world of this scourge.

We look forward to the president’s participation in the nuclear security summit hosted by President Obama in Washington in April. We discussed the threat that Iran poses to the nonproliferation goal that both of our countries are committed to pursuing. And we also discussed in depth the economic crisis that has confronted the world and the role that Argentina and the United States are playing in the G-20 to strengthen the global financial system.

So, Madam President, we have a very full agenda before us. Before I conclude, I would just mention one matter that we did not discuss in our very extensive meeting: the upcoming World Cup in South Africa. (Laughter.) Argentina doesn’t need it, but we wish your team good luck, unless, of course, you play the United States. (Laughter.)

So thank you again, Madam President. And let me convey my best wishes for Argentina’s bicentennial celebration in May, and for your continued commitment to democracy and human rights, to economic and social inclusion. Argentina remains an inspiration and a model to people throughout our hemisphere.

QUESTION: (In Spanish.)

And for the Secretary, it’s about the Falklands. The – President Fernandez talked about possible friendly mediation. Would the U.S. be considered – would the U.S. (inaudible) consider some kind of mediation role between the UK and Argentina over the Falklands? Thank you.

PRESIDENT DE KIRCHNER: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) what we have (inaudible) by both countries as a friendly country of both Argentina and the UK, so as to get both countries to sit down at the table and address these negotiations within the framework of the UN resolutions strictly. We do not want to move away from that in any letter whatsoever, any comma, of what has been stated by dozens of UN resolutions and resolutions by its decolonization committee. That’s the only thing we’ve asked for, just to have them sit down at the table and negotiate. I don’t think that’s too much, really, in a very conflicted and controversial world, complex in terms.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And we agree. We would like to see Argentina and the United Kingdom sit down and resolve the issues between them across the table in a peaceful, productive way.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) To the Secretary of State, good evening on behalf of all the journalists here. I was just wondering what made you change your mind and include Argentina, that was not originally envisaged in your schedule, and whether this will give the president the possibility, then, of meeting with President Obama, as he’s been considering holding meetings with several countries – Latin American countries?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m very pleased that I was able to come to Buenos Aires and have this very long, productive meeting, spend the night, and have the pleasure of being here once again. I know that President de Kirchner will be coming to Washington, and there will be an opportunity to discuss future meetings. But I’m very pleased that I had the opportunity for this meeting today.

PRESIDENT DE KIRCHNER: (Via interpreter) And if you’ll allow me, I’d like to add something to this answer. I only hold special appointments with my husband, President Kirchner. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: (In Spanish.)

INTERPRETER: The journalist was just asking how the U.S. intends to negotiate to get the United Kingdom to sit at the table and address the Malvinas issue. And he was then asking about this setting up of the fund. So, what’s the reserves of the country?

SECRETARY CLINTON: As to the first point, we want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. Now, we cannot make either one do so, but we think it is the right way to proceed. So we will be saying this publicly, as I have been, and we will continue to encourage exactly the kind of discussion across the table that needs to take place.

I’m sorry, I don’t know what fund we’re referring to.

QUESTION: He was talking about the fund that is set up or was going to be set up with a reserve (inaudible). What do you think about Argentina using its reserves to set up a fund to settle foreign debt?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that Argentina has made a tremendous amount of progress in paying down its debt. And the president and I were talking about the progress, which is very dramatic, just in the last several years. And I confessed to her that so far as I know, based on the figures, Argentina’s debt-to-GDP ratio is a lower percentage now than the United States debt-to-GDP ratio. So however Argentina is doing it, it’s working. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: I have a question for President de Kirchner. Madam President, just days before this trip, you appeared on CNN and said that in Latin America there had been some sense of disappointment about the first year of the Obama Administration. I’m wondering if in your discussions with Secretary Clinton, if you touched on this disappointment at all, if perhaps Secretary Clinton was able to change your mind about it, and if you had any suggestions about how to avoid similar disappointments in the coming years. Thank you.

PRESIDENT DE KIRCHNER: (Via interpreter) I hardly talk about my CNN interview with the Secretary of State. I don’t usually talk about my interviews with the media (inaudible). It would be sort of dangerous for me to tell her what I think and for her to tell me what she says to the media. But we did talk about what triggered that question at the CNN, which was the Honduras issue, where, as you all know, both countries hold different stances. Far from turning (inaudible) into two people that cannot reach agreement, turns us into very serious (inaudible) where we can discuss our points of agreement and things on which we do not agree. This is not only – or not only goes to the relationship (inaudible), but also between (inaudible) civilized, democratic (inaudible). So we can have common points of view on very serious problems and disagree on how we approach other problems (inaudible) serious, responsible, and mature manner. These are the three (inaudible) to live in a civilized world, and both countries aspire to attain that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Could I just add to the president’s comments? We had a very frank exchange of views about our different perceptions of Honduras. And as the president said, I appreciated the opportunity to explain why we believe that the free and fair elections which have elected the new president in Honduras means it’s time to turn the page. The difficult period Honduras went through, we hope is now over.

But in any event, the way we were able to discuss this important issue illustrates the importance of our two countries remaining in close touch and constant consultation. Where we agree is so much greater than where we disagree. Thank you again, Madam President.

PRESIDENT DE KIRCHNER: Thank you, Madam Secretary (inaudible) and good evening to all of you. Thank you.

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PRN: 2010/T23-3