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Military

16 January 2002

White House Report, Jan. 16: Argentina, Philippines, Guantanamo, South Asia

(White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer briefed reporters) (730)
WHITE HOUSE COMMENTS ON ARGENTINA
Asked what the Bush administration, either through the Treasury
Department or the White House, is doing to help the Argentinian
banking system, Fleischer said:
"The position of the Treasury Department and the President's
directions to the Treasury on this is to work closely with Argentina
as Argentina develops a plan for sustainable economic growth. And the
United States will continue to work with Argentina in development of
that plan. It's important for Argentina to take the necessary steps in
terms of economic reforms and internal actions that will create an
environment for sustainable economic growth."
Fleischer said Bush "has made clear that he will remain helpful; the
United States government wants to help through the International
Monetary Fund. But first, it's important for Argentina to take the
necessary steps to achieve sustainable growth."
A reporter noted that President Bush was scheduled to speak later in
the day at the Organization of American States on "The Future of the
Americas" and asked if he would address the criticisms being felt in
countries like Argentina, that they went through the decade of the
'90s putting in reforms sponsored by the IMF, the World Bank, and the
U.S. government, and yet, in some cases, the people are not better
off, and in some cases are worse off.
Fleischer responded that "in many places in South America and Central
and Latin America, reforms were put in place similarly which have led
to tremendous growth in those countries and in those economies. They
were the right reforms taken for the right reasons.
"Each nation has different reasons. Some were successful with those
reforms," Fleischer said. "Argentina, of course, has had a
long-standing struggle on keeping its economy strong."
BUSH WANTS TO HELP PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT COMBAT TERRORISM
Asked how far the United States is willing to go to help the
Philippine government in its fight against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist
group, Fleischer said:
"As part of the war against terrorism, the President is very concerned
about combatting terrorism wherever it may exist. There is a terrorism
problem in the Philippines, as is well known, and the President wants
to be helpful to the Philippine government in combating terrorism
there. And so the United States has sent a team of advisers to the
Philippines to be helpful to the government there in fighting
terrorism."
Fleischer said the advisers "will be there so long as the mission is
required. And the Department of Defense and the Department of State
did consult with the Congress in the process of doing this."
TREATMENT OF DETAINEES IN GUANTANAMO DEFENDED
Asked about the criticism by some civil rights and human rights groups
on the treatment of the detainees being held by the U.S. at Guantanamo
regarding their lodging and having had their beards shaved off,
Fleischer responded with the following statement:
"The President is very satisfied with the treatment that the detainees
are being given; that it is humane, it is respectful. And the
President is satisfied at all levels with the actions that the
Department of Defense has taken in the treatment of these people.
"These are very dangerous people. These people have been known to
engage in -- people who are like them, in a prison uprising that cost
a lot of lives. And these are, as Secretary Rumsfeld said, among some
of the worst of the worst of the al Qaeda with whom we have fought.
"But the President is satisfied that they are being treated as
Americans would want to be treated."
SECRETARY POWELL IN SOUTH ASIA AT DIRECTION OF BUSH
Fleischer said that Secretary of State Colin Powell is visiting India
and Pakistan "at the direction of the President because of the ongoing
concern about the tensions between" the two countries.
"There have been some very helpful developments in the last several
days," Fleischer said, including the speech by Pakistan's President
Pervez Musharraf.
Bush "praised President Musharraf for what he viewed as a courageous
speech. But the region does remain tense. It remains an issue of vital
priority and importance to the administration; hence, the Secretary's
presence in the region," said Fleischer.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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