Our two nations have a close history of cooperation and I was delighted in March to meet with President Fernandez de Kirchner and discuss a broad range of issues. And today, we built on that discussion in a very productive and constructive meeting.
I want to begin by thanking Argentina for its important contributions to peacekeeping efforts around the world, especially in Haiti. And in the wake of the terrible earthquake there, Argentina has been a vital contributor to the rebuilding and recovery efforts. Argentina and the United States cooperate closely in the fight against terrorism. Argentina, of course, has been a victim of terrorist attacks on its own soil. And we support Argentina’s pursuit of justice for those tragic and deplorable acts.
We appreciate Argentina’s leadership when it comes to nonproliferation, and Argentina will host one of the preparatory meetings for the next Nuclear Security Summit. We’ve begun to expand our relationship in the areas of science, energy, and health. And I’m pleased to announce that Argentina and the United States will host our first joint committee meeting on science cooperation in Buenos Aires this September.
And this year marks the 200th anniversary of Argentina’s path to independence, so let me, on behalf of the United States, congratulate Argentina and commit to making our relationship for the next 200 years one of cooperation, partnership, and friendship.
First of all, I would like to express the happiness that we feel by being here in D.C., having this opportunity to meet with you, and also to have this dialogue which serves to ratify the good relationship that exists between both countries. The first time I walked into this building, it was actually to ask for political asylum, so I know the work that the U.S. has done in defense of human rights during the dictatorship in Argentina, and that is something that the people of Argentina and I myself will never forget and always appreciate.
Secretary Clinton and I then had an opportunity to discuss the situation in Latin America. We also discussed the role played by Argentina in building consensus in the region, a consensus which can serve to facilitate a peaceful end to any conflict that occurs in the region. I think that is a very important point, that it should be the region itself that should solve its own problems, any problems that arise between its sister nations. So we are pleased with the dialogue currently being held between President Santos and President Chavez, and we hope that it ends any violent situation along the border.
Also, we expressed our commitment to enhance our work in the sphere of human rights. Both countries share this very important value. We also discussed nuclear security. We in Argentina feel that proliferation is something that must be avoided. Argentina is, in fact, a leader as far as the civilian or peaceful use of nuclear energy. We also discussed issues of discrimination and the protection of human rights. We work closely with the United States and other countries on this topic, and the U.S. Administration has shown great leadership in combating discrimination and we will continue to cooperate on that issue.
Lastly, two other issues that we discussed with Secretary Clinton: One issue is a very important one of increasing the bilateral trade between both countries. Argentina is especially interested in products such as meat and lemons. As you know, Argentina has lots of products that could be used to expand and broaden trade between both countries. Lastly, we also discussed the issue of the consultative meetings which will take place at some point before the end of this year here in D.C. The U.S. and Argentina will hold the bilateral talks on a variety of topics related to our government (inaudible) we will seek to establish guidelines for our future work.
And lastly, I just want to thank the Secretary for her kindness in welcoming me here today.
(Via interpreter) First of all, if I may, I would like to ask a question – this is for both of you regarding the conflict in Colombia and – between Colombia and Venezuela. Could you speak to the role that the countries of South America have played in achieving a peaceful resolution to this country? And as a follow-up, could you also please – both of you – comment on the role that Argentina plays in the region?
And it is our belief that dialogue is the way to achieve this. We believe in dialogue, in giving dialogue priority in working jointly, in being – accepting toward different philosophies of government and not letting that become an impediment to a solution. And of course, above all, respect for each country’s sovereignty. And we focus on peace above all as a solution. And I think the dialogue then has achieved that. As you know, even before President Santos became president, he went on a tour. He traveled to several countries, including Argentina, and he met with the president of Argentina there and that was where, in fact, the outline of this dialogue took place. And you can see the results that two days into his presidency he has held this meeting, which has achieved what we hope to be the beginning of a good relationship between both countries or the end of the bad relationship between both countries.
And we will continue to support those efforts, as I told the minister in our meeting, and hope that this outreach by President Santos and the reception by President Chavez leads to some positive resolution of the longstanding issues.
Thank you all very much.
FOREIGN MINISTER TIMERMAN: Thank you.