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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > November

Remarks With Foreign Minister Harmodio Arias Cerjack After Meeting With President Mireya Moscoso

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Presidential Palace
Panama City
November 3, 2003


FOREIGN MINISTER ARIAS: (In Spanish) I want to thank you all for your presence here today. I especially want to thank Secretary Powell, who has come representing President Bush from the United States to this very important event. Now we can move on to the first question, perhaps?

SECRETARY POWELL: Let me just say a word before the first question and that is to say how proud I am to be here today, representing President Bush and the American people on the 100th anniversary of the independence of Panama.

I am so pleased to see how Panama has progressed over the past 14 years, from those difficult days of December 1989. And I congratulated the President, and through her the Panamanian people, for their commitment to democracy and the economic reforms that have taken place and the superb manner in which the Panama Canal has been operated. So, congratulations to Panama and to all Panamanians on this very important day.

QUESTION: (In Spanish) An obligatory subject we need to bring up is the responsibility of the U.S. Government to clean up the firing ranges? And the second question we want to ask is about the possibility of a free trade agreement with Panama?

SECRETARY POWELL: On the first question, we are, of course, concerned about the environment and we believe that consistent with our obligations under the period of the aftermath of the ending of the treaty period, we have met our obligations. But we still are in discussions with our Panamanian colleagues as to whether or not we can provide additional assistance to them so that they can train Panamanian organizations to deal with some of the lingering environmental problems.

With respect to the free trade area, we think this is a good idea, we are pursuing it, and I expect that we will complete our analysis of this in the very near future, and a decision will be forthcoming in the not-too-distant future.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) You attended a lunch with the President of Taiwan. Did you meet him, and what happened?

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, I did. We shook hands, exchanged pleasantries. Thank you.

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