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Remarks With Chilean President-elect Sebastian Pinera


Remarks
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Santiago Airport
Santiago, Chile
March 2, 2010

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SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much. I just had the privilege and opportunity of a long conversation with President-elect Pinera about the immediate crisis of the earthquake and about a number of important issues that we will be working on together upon his becoming president next week.

Chile and the United States have a very close bilateral relationship. We have explored a number of the important matters that are on our agendas together, but we also have regional and international responsibilities. Chile is a member of the G-20. President-elect Pinera will be coming to Washington for President Obama’s nuclear security summit. There are a number of critical issues that we must work on together.

I reiterated our strong support as Chile recovers from the earthquake. And President-elect Pinera mentioned specific needs that Chile will have for reconstruction, and we’ve offered assistance in that phase as well.

Well, the president-elect informed me that Chile is not a member of the G-20, but the G-20 will be working to help Chile as long – as well as other international financial institutions. And certainly with the president-elect’s background in business, he will be a very important voice in all of the multilateral discussions about the economy going forward.

President-elect, on behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, we stand with you. We look forward to working with you, and congratulations upon your inauguration next week.

PRESIDENT-ELECT PINERA: (Via interpreter) I want to very much thank Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her visit and also for the willingness that she has indicated to cooperate with Chile so that we can not only deal with the current emergency but also work towards the plan for reconstruction that Chile needs to carry out with a sense of a unity and solidarity.

The meeting with Secretary Clinton was a long one. It was a deep meeting, it was a fertile meeting, and I think that we have covered not only many bilateral issues as well as the issues Chile is facing now during the emergency and its phase of reconstruction, but also many multilateral issues of interest to us both.

We share with the United States a number of values – freedom, democracy, respect for human rights, a sense of cooperation – and above all, we share the same ideas with regards to challenges of the 21st century.

And so we posed to her and we represented to her our willingness to continue to cooperate, but even more closely than before, on strengthening democracy, protecting human rights. We also asked Secretary Clinton for cooperation from the United States with regard to technology, because if the United States can provide us with very good information on renewable energy, environmentally friendly energy, technology necessary to provide housing – temporary housing, to provide prefabricated housing quickly, this is going to help, particularly in the cases of 500,000 people who have been left without shelter as a result of the earthquake; also in terms of renovation and also issues of entrepreneurship, because Chile is now at a time in its history where it needs to make a leap forward. Our hope for Chile is that it will be the first country of Latin America to beat underdevelopment, to beat poverty. And we hope to do so while we strengthen democracy and work towards peace.

And finally, I asked the Secretary of State to please extend our invitation to President Obama so that he will visit Chile in the near future. And I also assured her of my attendance at the nuclear security summit in Washington, D.C. in April. I also hope that I will have the opportunity to have many more meetings with Secretary Clinton so that we can further the ties that join our two countries, so that we can work towards the achievement that our people require.

And I want to thank you, Secretary, so much for being here today. I hope that our fertile bilateral relationship leads to many good things for our two nations. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.

QUESTION: A question, Madam Secretary. Hi, Madam Secretary. I’m over here.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Sorry. Oh, there you are. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Hi, Mr. President-elect. I have a question for you, whether you believe that you’re satisfied with the response of the government to the earthquake. Do you believe, for example, that they should have deployed the military within the 24-hour period? That could have, perhaps, avoided some of the looting that we’re seeing in the most affected areas.

And for the Secretary: We know that you like to get out in person and see these situations for yourself. Do you feel a little disappointed that you weren’t able to in this case? And you also went to Haiti after that quake. Can you just to explain to our viewers and readers at home the differences you see and the reaction to the situation? Thank you.

PRESIDENT-ELECT PINERA: (Via interpreter) When you go through a catastrophe as massive as the one that Chile has suffered, let’s remember that this was not just a large earthquake. It’s one of the greatest, most powerful earthquakes that have ever been recorded. Over 75 percent of Chile’s population was affected by it. There are basic priorities that need to be dealt with immediately. Those are to maintain public order and safety, to provide the basics needs to the people, such as water, power.

If the armed forces can help in this initiative, they should be used. They can provide technology and logistics, the staff necessary to get many of these jobs done. And therefore, I applaud the Government of Chile for having established a state of catastrophe that made it possible for them to make use of the armed forces in this situation.

My team is currently studying what it is we are going to do when we take office so that possibly we will be extending this state of catastrophe to continue dealing with the situation to provide water as quickly as possible, provide water – sorry, power as quickly as possible, and do this in a way that this emergency phase will come to a close quickly and we can begin with the work of reconstruction.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have been visiting sites of disasters for more than 30 years, as a first lady in Arkansas, as a first lady of the United States, as a senator from New York, and now as Secretary of State. And it is very clear to me that Chile is much better prepared, much quicker to respond, more able to do so. The leadership that President Bachelet and President-elect Pinera are providing to make sure that they work together in order to keep the recovery and relief efforts going seamlessly is exactly what one would expect. There is no doubt in my mind as we stand here at an airport that thankfully is functioning and relief flights are coming in, that Chile is prepared, is dealing with this massive disaster and will be on the road to an even better recovery in the future.

QUESTION: President-elect Pinera, buenos tardes. We’d like to know how you plan to pay for the reconstruction efforts, which are going to be considerable, what you estimate they’re going to cost. And also, how does this affect your economic plan of 6 percent growth and 200,000 jobs created in your first year in office?

And for Madam Secretary, we just wanted to ask you whether you think that president-elect’s attitude toward Venezuela and Cuba will be helpful or a hindrance to the relations between the U.S. and those countries, and Chile and those countries. Thank you.

INTERPRETER: Dos preguntas, primero para El President-electo Pinera – sorry. (Laughter.)

President-elect, how do you plan to pay for the reconstruction efforts that are going to have to be carried out, and how do you plan to reconcile those with your platform for 6 percent growth for the nation and 200,000 more jobs?

And for Secretary Clinton, the question was --

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, just his answer is sufficient.

INTERPRETER: Okay. The president-elect answered: We are finishing our diagnosis right now, so we’re not quite sure of all the figures and absolutely all the details. What I can tell you this is the most important thing we need to deal with right now. So far, the count is that there are over 730 people who have died, more or less. That number may continue to grow, unfortunately, because a number of people are still missing. We know that there are people who are caught under the rubble. And so we will continue to work on this. This is probably the worst and the most – the saddest thing that we’re dealing with right now.

We know this effort is going to entail an enormous investment. Figures right now are in the area of $30 billion. We’re not sure of that, but that’s more or less in the area of 16 percent of this country’s GNP. Therefore, an amendment will have to be made to our plan, because we are going to have to factor in one very important element, and that is the phase of reconstruction.

How are we going to carry this out? Well, luckily, Chile’s financial situation is extremely solid. We have fruitful resources – financial resources and human resources that will allow us to do much. We will also be given a helping hand by the international community, which has already shown its solidarity. You’ve seen it at this very airport. President Lula came to visit us, the Secretary of State is here with us today, and the president of Peru is going to be visiting us shortly. This is a demonstration of the efforts at reconstruction that have already begun and that we are already being helped with.

SECRETARY CLINTON: As to the second question, Chile and the United States share common values: a great belief in democracy, a respect for private property and free markets, a commitment to free expression and independent media, and so much else. And we will stand strongly on behalf of those values in our hemisphere and around the world.

QUESTION: (In Spanish.)

PRESIDENT-ELECT PINERA: (In Spanish.)

INTERPRETER: The question had to do with – the question was for the president-elect. What do you think of the decisions of the government? Do you think that they should’ve used more military? Do you think that greater power should have been exercised in that sense?

The response is: There has been an enormous wave of vandalism, looting, crime in the cities of Concepcion and Talcahuano. This is absolutely unacceptable. It simply worsens the already catastrophic situation we’re in. I hope that the government will be using all the tools necessary in order to combat crime and to restore order.

If more troops – if more people are needed, they should be used. Fighting crime is a priority of our administration. And I want to say something with regards to the figures I gave a little while ago. We will not change the figures we gave for expecting 6 percent in growth and 200,000 additional jobs. Those figures remain. And perhaps the phase of reconstruction can help to accelerate our growth and increase the number of jobs that we have.

But in any catastrophe, the first things you need to worry about are maintaining public order and providing the basic needs of the people in terms of water, power, et cetera. This is not the time to evaluate the performance of the government. This is not the time to cast blame or say that anything has been done wrong. This is the time to provide solutions, and evaluations can come later.

QUESTION: (In Spanish.)

INTERPRETER: A question for Secretary of State Clinton: If the Government of Chile requires it, would the United States be willing to send troops to Chile?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have said we will offer any help, but that has never been mentioned. Certain equipment has certainly been requested, which we will attempt to provide. But I have great confidence in Chile’s ability to manage its security needs. We want to be helpful where they have gaps, and that’s what we will try to fill.



PRN: 2010/T23-5



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