Visit to BrazilMarc Grossman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Itamaraty Palace, Brasmlia, Brazil
March 7, 2002
MINISTER LIGIERO, FOREIGN MINISTRY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, Ambassador Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, will first say a few words about his visit to Brazil and then will be ready to answer your questions.
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Thank you very much for that introduction and thank you for allowing us to use your facility here today. First of all, let me thank you all for coming. I want first to say how pleased I am to be here in Brazil. As I told Brazilian Foreign Ministry colleagues today, that when I took my new job as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs a year ago, one of the things that was on my list was to visit Brazil and so I am delighted to have a chance to come here today to your great country.
I want also formally to thank the Government of Brazil for all of the hospitality that's been shown to all of us on the delegation and I also want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to America's outstanding representatives in Brazil, led by our Chargé d'Affaires, Cris Orozco. We think our team in Brazil does an absolutely superb job representing the United States of America.
One of the reasons that I am here is that since 2000, Brazil and the United States have been committed to political consultations at the level of Under Secretaries. And so I came to Brazil to meet that commitment. I met today with my counterparts in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Araújo Castro and Ambassador Sabóia, and with Secretary General Chohfi. We discussed, as you can imagine, a broad range of issues and agreed to continue to advance the excellent cooperation on a very broad agenda that Brazil and the United States share. After I answer a few questions I will also then have the opportunity to meet with officials from the International Security Cabinet of the Presidency and I'll look forward to that opportunity as well.
Some people have said that the events of September the 11th mean that the United States cannot continue the broad engagement we have with the world. I can tell you that from my perspective, nothing can be further from the truth. And it is certainly not true about what is going on here in our hemisphere.
The vision that President Bush, President Cardoso and other hemisphere leaders laid out in Quebec last April 20-22 – of a hemisphere that is defined by democracy, by security and by prosperity – is not less important after the 11th of September. It is more important. We were especially grateful for Brazil's early expressions of solidarity and support after the 11th of September. Brazilians understood immediately, and I would say with clarity, that the September 11th attack constituted a threat to the entire hemisphere. And although some months later, I want to take this opportunity to thank Brazil and the Brazilian people for that.
On January 16th of this year, at a speech at the Organization of American States, President Bush reaffirmed his commitment to what he calls a Century of the Americas at a gathering of Americans from across the hemisphere at the headquarters of the Organization of American States. In that speech, he pledged to work with our regional partners to build what he calls "a prosperous, free and democratic hemisphere."
We intend to pursue this vision of a Century of Americas with Brazil. Indeed, as Secretary General Chohfi and Ambassadors Araújo Castro and Sabóia and I agreed today, the U.S.-Brazil agenda is as deep and as positive as it is wide. We consulted today, as we have done in the past, on issues ranging from the political, to trade, to education, defense, health and the environment. Let me give you, if I could, a few examples:
Of course, and we talked about a number of them today, there are going to be areas where we have more work to do. I think that is expected in any relationship that is as complex and as broad as this relationship between friends, and certainly the relationship between Brazil and the United States. But I do think it is important, as your Ambassador to the United States reminds me from time to time, that Brazil and the United States have a very positive agenda.
We should not forget this. We do a lot together now. We can do more together. And that is my message today as I pay my first visit to your great country.
So I now would be glad to answer any questions that anybody might have.
MINISTER LIGIERO: Well, let's start with the questions. I would like to ask reporters to introduce yourselves at the microphone. Yes, please, the first question:
CLÁUDIA DIANNI, FOLHA DE SAO PAULO: The U.S. Government has shown interest in creating an multinational task force for combating drug trafficking in Colombia. I would like to know if you spoken about this here in Brazil and what has been Brazil's reaction to that, since it goes against the Brazilian diplomatic principle of interference. At the same time, I would like to know if have dealt with the subject of your concerns with the guerrilla invasions of the Brazilian territory, especially after last week's firefight between the FARC and the Brazilian Army.
GROSSMAN: I am going to ask you a question. Did I understand you to say that you are asking about a multinational force to combat drugs?
QUESTION: Yes, if there is interest on the part of the United States to create a multinational force?
GROSSMAN: Please, let me try to answer that question as directly as I possibly can. As far as I know, and as far any consultation I had here today, there was no, repeat, no discussion of any multinational force to combat narcotics, none whatsoever. We did however discuss the problem of narcotics, the problems of the drug trade and recognized that it will take a multilateral effort to stop drugs, to deal with demand in our own countries, to fight the financing of drugs and terrorism. But the idea somehow that there would be a multinational force is not something that is certainly on our agenda and I did not hear that at all from anyone in Brazil today.
On your second question, we did not discuss it today, because it was extremely well discussed yesterday and the day before at the joint group on law enforcement. So I apologize, but we let them take care of it because they are the experts.
DAISY LEOBET, DINHEIRO MAGAZINE: There is a feeling in some sectors of the Brazilian diplomacy as well as in the Brazilian Government that Brazil-U.S. relations, that were always considered historically cold, frozen completely. And there is a series of factors that added to that mounting to the steel issue. That is, steel is seen as the tip of the iceberg. Indicators are: that President Bush, more that one-year after his inauguration, never came to Brazil nor there are any indications that he will come. He will travel this year to Mexico, El Salvador, Panama and Peru, if I am not mistaken, but there is no definition of a trip to Brazil. There are other signs: when President De La Rua fell, President Bush made a phone call to the Chilean President. So, do you agree that U.S.-Brazil relations cooled-down, politically speaking? If not, why? Do you see positive signs in this political relationship?
GROSSMAN: Well, I don't mean to come into your country and disagree with such a nicely put question, but I really have to disagree completely with the premises of your question and I disagree also with the analysis of your question. I found no coldness here today. I found no freezing here today. And the idea somehow that Brazil and the United States are in anything other than a very positive relationship with a broad agenda seems to me, if I may say to you, unsupported by the facts. I tried, in my statement, to give you some examples of the things we are doing together. Let me give you another couple. One of the things I learned in getting ready for this trip was that the Department of Health Human Services in the United States say that they have more contact with Brazilians over health issues than any other country in the world. We are dealing with issues from space to science and technology and to politics. I obviously don't schedule the President's travel. All I can tell you is, that at the highest levels, Brazil and the United States have been in constant contact. President Bush and President Cardoso have met in the Oval Office. They've met outside the Oval Office. They have telephoned one another on any number of occasions. The Foreign Minister and Secretary Powell have met on a number of occasions. And I have the good fortune to be here today and, as I say, Ambassador Zoellick will be here over the weekend.
If I might say one other thing, and that is that sometimes people put on the list that you were making, that we don't have an ambassador here. And I want to tell you that we are sending to you one of the great American diplomats of our generation. And Ambassador Hrinak, who has been confirmed by the Senate, will come here and she will build on the work that our Chargé, Chris Orozco, has done to move this relationship forward. So, again, with great respect, I really disagree with your… I disagree with the calculation that you've made.
LUCIA HELENA NEIVA, TV NBR-RADIOBRÁS: In your presentation, you stated that the United States expects to co-chair with Brazil the FTAA negotiations. Brazil has already stated several times that the situation of steel, with the barriers that are being imposed, could make the enactment of the FTAA very difficult. It could be one more obstacle on the road towards the FTAA. Hasn’t Brazil made that clear?
GROSSMAN: I think I would quote your statement back and that there are some people in Brazil who said that this could be a problem. I heard no one today who told me that Brazil was not anything other than very interested in pursuing this co-chairmanship. Don't forget where this comes from. It comes from one of the most successful joint efforts by Brazil and the United States, to go back to your question, which was the launching of the new trade round in Doha. And I don't think that I would be contradicted by Ambassador Zoellick, if he were sitting here, when I say that the cooperation between Brazil and the United States was crucial to the success of that negotiation in Doha. So we'll have to see. Brazil can make its own decision. Brazil has to decide how best to pursue Brazil's interests. All I can report to you today is that no one told me today anything other than they look forward to this joint effort.
KATHERINE BALDWIN, REUTERS: I am going to ask in English if this is OK. The United States Government has been a strong backer of Colombian President Pastrana in his drugs fight and his guerrilla fight. I would like to know if the U.S. Government thinks that Brazil is doing enough, within its limits, obviously of diplomacy and national sovereignty, to support the U.S. in its backing of Pastrana against drug trafficking and the guerrilla war there. And you are meeting later with Cardoso's security cabinet and I would like to know what is on the agenda there. I know you said the U.S. and Brazil talked about these problems over the last few days, but the situation on the border seems to be getting complicated. So, I'd like to know if the U.S. will ask Brazil for more cooperation for a tougher stances against Colombia. And fearing that you might not be able to answer those questions, the steel issue and the soya issue and several trade issues are making relations difficult with Brazil. I mean you have stressed that there is a good relationship, but the steel issue is becoming a problem, and I would like to know what do you think about that.
GROSSMAN: Sure. Well, let me try to answer both questions. I won't shy away from the Colombia question. Indeed, we talked a lot about Colombia today. Colombia is very much on our minds and is clearly very much on the minds of people here in Brazil. Like I have done with a couple of your colleagues though, I want to be clear about one thing: the objective of the United States is not to have Brazil support the United States as the United States supports Colombia. The objective of the United States and of Brazil is to support Colombia. So I did not come here and ask the Government of Brazil to do anything more for the United States of America. And I want to be very clear about that. As you said, Brazil has to make its own decisions. What we did talk about were more ways that the United States and Brazil might help Colombia. Why is that? Because Colombian democracy is under siege. Because the FARC and the ELN and the AUC are attempting to make the success of Colombian democracy more of a struggle than it should be. And we believe that the Hemisphere has to help President Pastrana and has to help Colombia at this time. And although certainly, I would leave the Brazilian side to speak for itself, I think that is the Brazilian position as well. I think President Cardoso has spoken very eloquently, after President Pastrana was forced by the FARC to end the peace process, about the strength of Brazil's support to President Pastrana. So, I don't want to repeat myself but I don't want you to write that I came here to ask the Brazilians to support us to support Colombia. What we have talked about was how we both can support Colombia.
In terms of steel, obviously this is an issue that is on everybody's mind. It was implicit or explicit in all the questions I have gotten so far. Last night, our Chargé was nice enough to bring around the table a number of members of parliament and a number of business people and we talked about this issue. And although we did not talk about it in depth today here because Ambassador Zoellick is coming, we did talk about steel. And I don't know if I have very much to add when you ask what my view is. My view is that the United States remains committed to free trade. That the President in his statement made clear that under WTO rules we have a right to do this. That these tariffs, these extra measures, are temporary. That the purpose of them is to let American workers adjust to the glut of foreign steel. And I think that a fair analysis will show that the President and Ambassador Zoellick and others who participated in this decision took great pains to keep Brazilian steel flowing to the United States. And I am going to look down here because I want to get this number right. The 2.7 million-ton quota for slab steel is 25% more than Brazil's exports to the United States last year. And it will increase over time, thus allowing for growth in exports. So, we think that for countries like Brazil —or yesterday I was in Argentina — that although this is a difficult decision, I am sure, for some, that for countries like Brazil and Argentina, we don't think the impact will be that severe.
I will take one more…
ANDRÉ LACERDA, VALOR ONLINE: You emphasized that you have come to strengthen political cooperation. Politics is always related to the economy. So I would ask you how do you request cooperation and collaboration to the extent that our country is undergoing the application of trade barriers? How do you expect cooperation if Brazil is paid back with trade barriers?
GROSSMAN: Like in some of the other answers to questions, I did not come here to expect anything from anyone. I came here to have a political consultation with my counterparts in Colombia — I'm sorry, with Brazil — I still have Colombia on my mind, I apologize. I apologize. So the idea somehow that we came here with demands and expectations and requirements is wrong. The relationship between the United States and Brazil is not built like that. And so Brazilians will have to decide what Brazilians are going to do. Brazilians will have to decide what their response is to decisions made by the United States. And I don't pretend to give advice on that and I don't pretend to demand or expect or require anything in that area. My answer to your question though is that the totality of trade between Brazil and the United States is 27 billion dollars and growing. And that is a huge opportunity for Brazilians and it is a big opportunity for Americans. And so, only Brazilians can decide how they feel about the President's decision. I tried in my answer to your colleague from Reuters to give our perspective. But we think that if you look at the totality of this relationship, both economic and political, there are dozens and dozens of ways that Brazil and the United States can cooperate. And that is because Brazil is one of the great countries in this world and we want to recognize it. And we want to work with Brazil.
Thank you all very much. I appreciate your time.
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