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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Robert Wood
Acting Department Spokesman
Daily Press Briefing
Washington, DC
March 16, 2009

Index for Today's Briefing
    • Congratulate People of El Salvador on Free, Fair, Democratic Election / Congratulate Funes as Winner and Opponent for Respecting Results / Look Forward to Working with New Government on Bilateral Agenda


Excerpts From the Daily Press Briefing Pertaining to Western Hemisphere Affairs Full Briefing

QUESTION: Yeah, there’s the El Salvador joining the ranks of leftist governments in Latin America.

MR. WOOD: Well, first and foremost, I want to congratulate the people of El Salvador for, you know, a very free, fair, and democratic election. I want to specifically congratulate Mauricio Funes as the winner of the presidential election, and also his opponent, Rodrigo Avila, for participating in the election and for respecting the election results. So we look forward to working with the new government of El Salvador, you know, on our bilateral agenda. And you know, and that’s what I have.

QUESTION: Do you expect the history of past ties with El Salvador by U.S. governments and, say, right-wing elements in Latin America to hurt chances for working with this new government?

MR. WOOD: I certainly hope that that isn’t the case. You know, this is a democratically elected government. The people of El Salvador made a decision and that – the will of the people needs to be respected. As I said, it was a very free, fair, and democratic election. This is something we’d like to see throughout the hemisphere. And the people of El Salvador deserve congratulations.


QUESTION: Robert, Venezuela – a reaction to Chavez’s comments that Russian bombers would be able to make strategic stops on its territory if they needed to?


MR. WOOD: Yeah, I’ve seen reports with regard to Russian and Venezuelan statements. They appear to be walking back from what was said previously, so I don’t see it as much of a story.

QUESTION: Well, he stopped short of saying that there would be a base there, but he’s still saying that --

MR. WOOD: Well, look, I have to refer you to, you know, the Government of Venezuela on that subject. But the statements I have seen since the original story, since the earlier stories that ran, seem – that they seem to be backing away from --

QUESTION: Well, actually, Robert, the head of the Cuban air force, I think, just said today that there is interest – I’m sorry, the head of the Russian air force today just said that there was interest in having their strategic bombers on Cuban airfields. So I mean, does the idea of having Russian bombers in this hemisphere concern the United States? I mean, this came up a few months ago. I can’t remember exactly when, but I know that the Administration spoke out very forcefully at the time that it would not be taken well.

MR. WOOD: There have been a lot of news reports about what some people have said, and then reports saying that, well, that’s not exactly what they said. I just don’t have a way of saying anything beyond what I’ve given you already.

QUESTION: But – okay, but the Russians and the Cubans, for instance, I mean, regardless of Venezuela, have been talking for some time about putting strategic bombers in Cuba. I mean, would that concern the United States?

MR. WOOD: You’re asking me to speculate. I am not going to speculate on press reports.

QUESTION: It’s not really speculation. These talks have been out there for at least six months.

MR. WOOD: Talks are talks. I’m just not going to speculate on something that hasn’t happened.

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