20 May 1997


(A deepened partnership between the United States and Central America) (700)

Following is a fact sheet issued by White House officials after President Clinton's meeting with Central American leaders May 8 in San Jose, Costa Rica:

The Declaration of San Jose commits the United States and the nations of Central America to an intensified dialogue on a broad range of issues, including actions in the areas of strengthening democracy and regional security, building trade and investment, combating crime, drugs and corruption, promoting dialogue on immigration, and achieving more equitable and sustainable development. This deepened cooperation reflects the remarkable transformation of Central America, which, for the first time in 35 years, is democratic and at peace.

Intensified Dialogue/Follow-up Mechanisms: The Summit declaration provides structure for a deepened political relationship to follow-up commitments undertaken at the Summit. Secretary of State Albright will meet annually with the foreign ministers of Central America and the Dominican Republic to follow-up commitments from the Summit. Attorney General Reno will meet next month with her counterparts to develop an Action Plan implementing commitments to heightened cooperation on law enforcement issues. Finally, the Presidents created a ministerial-level Trade and Investment Council to advance our shared free-trade goals within the FTAA process.

Strengthening Democracy/Combating Crime and Drugs: The declaration calls for intensified efforts to combat drug consumption, drug trafficking, money laundering and related illegal activity. It also commits governments to the modernization of extradition treaties. In several of the Summit countries, constitutional bans on the extradition of nationals create a defacto legal sanctuary for Central American nationals who commit crimes in the U.S. then flee from justice. Cooperation on extradition will be among the priority law enforcement matters at the upcoming meeting between Attorney General Reno and her Central American counterparts.

Building Free Trade: The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Miami Summit vision of a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. They called for the beginning of FTAA negotiations at the March 1998 Santiago Summit and welcomed the participation of labor in the process of hemispheric economic integration. The declaration welcomes the Administration's intention to seek passage of a bill enhancing access to the U.S. market for Caribbean Basin Initiative beneficiaries and recognizes strong advances the Central Americans have made in opening and restructuring their economies.

The declaration provides for a ministerial Trade and Investment Council to make specific recommendations for deepening our trade ties on a more reciprocal basis. It also pledges governments to continue work on bilateral investment treaties, intellectual property rights agreements, and liberalization of telecommunications, information technology and financial services sectors -- all U.S. trade policy goals. Our new Open Skies agreements are concrete examples of our commitment to open trade and commerce, and, in anticipation of increased air traffic stimulated by our new open skies agreements, the leaders pledge further cooperation to strengthen aviation regulatory, safety and security capabilities throughout the region.

Workers Rights and Social Issues: The communique takes note of the Administration's Apparel Industry Partnership and calls for labor ministers to organize a conference of interested parties this year to exchange ideas as to how employers and workers organizations can promote respect for labor rights and improve working conditions. The leaders give particular emphasis to the need for more social investment -- in health, education, housing and labor training -- to extend the benefits of economic growth. They call for expanding programs to promote micro-enterprises as a means of attacking poverty. They underscore the contribution that women make to the development process and pledge especially to protect the rights of workers set out in the ILO Constitution and various conventions.

Protecting the Environment: The declaration renews our commitment to the principles of environmental protection that underlie the U.S. Central America environmental agreement signed at the Miami Summit (CONCAUSA). It also endorses the concept of giving credit for Joint Implementation Projects to reduce greenhouse gasses, a major goal of U.S. environmental policy which we will push globally at Kyoto Climate Change Conference in December.

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