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14 August 2003

U.S. Applauds, Supports Colombia's Efforts Against Terrorism

Myers says terrorism in Colombia affects stability of entire region

The United States is committed to working with Colombia to rid that nation of the narco-terrorism that affects not only it but the entire Western Hemisphere, says Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

In an August 12 press conference in Bogotá, Myers said he was impressed with the dedication and determination of the Colombian government and Colombian people to rid their country of narcotics and terrorism. He applauded the "extremely impressive" work Colombian officials have done in implementing a national security strategy and the "remarkable" results achieved by the Colombian military. Myers indicated that these efforts would benefit the entire hemisphere.

"Terrorism of any kind affects the stability and security of not only Colombia but also the entire Western Hemisphere," Myers said. "So success here is very important for the United States and we will be a full partner."

Myers said the United States would continue to work with Colombia in areas such as training, planning, intelligence analysis and use of intelligence. He indicated that his talks with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe included not only bilateral issues but regional security topics as well -- including how Colombia's neighbors could contribute to counter-terrorist initiatives.

Following is the transcript of Myers' remarks:

(begin transcript)

PRESS CONFERENCE WITH GENERAL RICHARD B. MYERS
CATAM - BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
August 12, 2003

GENERAL MYERS: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. First I would like to thank General Mora for the generous hospitality that we received during this visit and obviously to his staff that makes all this go so well. I also want to express my support for President Uribe's efforts to eliminate the threats of terrorism and narcoterrorism in the region.

Terrorism of any kind affects the stability and security of not only Colombia, but also the entire Western Hemisphere. Colombia is a staunch U.S. ally in the war on terrorism and for that we thank the Colombian Government and the Colombian people.

During this trip I met, as you know, with President Uribe, Foreign Minister Barco, Minister of Defense Ramirez and of course General Mora and his staff. I also received briefings from General Mora and at the Army Military Intelligence Center. We have some very productive meetings, and I am ready to take your questions.

First Question: James Garamone: How would you characterize your discussions in your visit to Colombia. Many people we have spoken to here have seen the progress made by Colombia in this war on narcoterrorism, but some say that it can't continue if U.S. help is no longer maintained. How do you answer them?

GENERAL MYERS: First of all, the one thing you come away with after a visit like this is the effort, dedication and determination of the Colombian government and the Colombian people to rid this country of terrorism so their families and their children and grandchildren can live in peace and prosperity.

Clearly we have been full partners with the Colombian Government going back a long way. Back to the Korean War, where Colombians fought side by side with U.S. military, to their support on the War on Terrorism and our continuing support down here, to help Colombia rid this country of narcoterrorists, drugs, and terrorism. We are committed to that. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, this is important not just for Colombia but it is important for the region and for the Western Hemisphere. So success here is very important for the United States and we will be a full partner.

Fernando Ramos - CNN en Español: General Myers good morning. The concern in certain sector of the U.S. Congress is increasing given the lack of results in terms of certain U.S. hostages that have kidnapped by the FARC. Is there a possibility of more personnel or greater support, logistic support for the Colombia Armed Forces so they can solve this problem?

GENERAL MYERS: That was another great example of another act of terrorism by people who would kidnap or injure other people totally indiscriminately-- men, women and children. So we know what the threat is.

One of the ways that we are trying to assist, and one of the most important things the United States Military can do, is to help the Colombian Military with their planning, with their use of intelligence, and with some basic training. The one thing we don't have to help the Colombian Military with is their courage and their determination.

I contrast to when I was here three years ago, this military is a very competent Military, very dedicated to the mission that they have before them. And we will continue to work with those areas where we can assist the planning, the use of intelligence, intelligence analysis and so forth. But before you can go after hostages or anything like that, you have to have good intelligence; and that is where we are going to put our emphasis and you also have to the ability to use that intelligence wisely and that is on the planning piece and we are helping with that.

Vanessa Arington - Associated Press: Hi, good morning.

GENERAL MYERS: Good morning.

Vanessa Arrington - Associated Press: Given the continuing violence in Colombia, underlined by the latest wave of bomb attacks this weekend and the success in the eradication of drug crops, will you recommend a shift in U.S. resources to focus more on counterinsurgency activities in Colombia? And also will the United States have to start cutting back in Colombia to address military and financial commitment in other troubled regions?

GENERAL MYERS: Well, on that last part, we have said consistently when people say, well the U.S. military is very busy. We are busy in Afghanistan, we are busy in Iraq, and we are busy on the horn of Africa. But we have lots of obligations; military obligations, security obligations around the world, and our continuing analysis it that we can continue those and that will include Colombia as well. So I do not see this having any impact, I don't see what is going on the rest of the world having any impact on our support to Colombia.

In terms of the characterization of our support, you know the U.S. Government and the Congress made the decision that our training and our support here could be used for the terrorist as well as the drug problem, which is a realization that the two are really related. You cannot separate them and that is particularly true here in Colombia. I would think that the characteristics of our support will continue as they have, in terms of the items I mentioned before. We will be very involved in training Colombian Military. Some of that training may change character as more and more battalions are trained. We may train in more specialties as we look at this maybe just slightly differently than we did at the first of the year. The intelligence piece has to come along, and the planning peace has to come along; we are involved in all of those.

Carlos Barragan - Noticiero Canal Caracol: The visit that you had with President Uribe and with the military in Colombia. What did you come here to offer in a meeting prior to the Rumsfeld visit?

GENERAL MYERS: The purpose of the visit of course was to visit with General Mora, to be updated on our military to military cooperation. It was not connected to Secretary of Defense's visit; he will visit next week and that is a separate issue. We did talk with President Uribe on a variety of topics to include regional security topics as well as issues about Colombia.
As we heard from the military, we heard from the political leadership of this country, the President, his priorities for dealing with this threat and that was very useful. Very useful to hear how important he thought various items were and various priorities were.

So we went through that, very useful for me, to hear that first hand. But there were no "deliverables" per se. This is just part of a visit on my part just to meet with the military leadership here in Colombia. We reviewed their strategy yesterday; we spent about two and a half hours together looking at the strategy the military has put together and the Minister Defense has put together that fits into the National Strategy, and it is very impressive. The strategic work they have done is extremely impressive. Much like the work that we have done in the United States on the war on Terrorism in a global sense. A lot of parallels. We reviewed that, we looked at some of the ways that they have connected intelligence and operations to be quicker and more agile, more flexible in going after some of the leadership targets. And we also talked about some of their successes, and they have had some successes. So that's the reason I visited, to get a sense you cannot get inside Washington, D.C. It is always better to come here and talk with people in their countries.

Andrea Peña - Colprensa: General Myers good morning. Perhaps to return to the previous question. What new issues, what concrete issues did you agree on with President Uribe and with the Minister of Defense amd the Colombian leadership?
GENERAL MYERS: A whole variety of issues. We talked about the resumption of the air bridge denial program, we talked about regional security issues in terms of other countries in the neighborhood, and how they can help defeat terrorism. The analogy there is much like Iraq. In Iraq, we have asked the countries that surround Iraq to be very helpful in the coalition's objectives inside Iraq and it is not helpful when they allow either arms or other fighters to enter Iraq from outside Iraq.

The same thing is true in Colombia. The same sort of cooperation you need from the surrounding countries is very important. So we talked about that, we talked about some specific things and I am not going to go into detail, specific things the militaries could do to help. I will mention one of them. One of them is in the area of demining and some demining training; we talked about that as well. So many, many subjects. We had a long discussion with the President, even longer with the military leadership, to get a sense of how our assistance can be improved and I think I gave you some of the issues there. Thank You.

Andres Valero - CM& Television: General Myers, pretty much in connection with that last question. How do you consider the perception of the Venezuela Government surrounding around the gossip or information about cooperation with guerrillas in Colombia? What is the perception that you have? Is Venezuela a concern in this regard?

GENERAL MYERS: First of all I thought you were going to ask about the determination and the attitude of the Colombian military. Let me go back to that for a second and then we will get to Venezuela in just a moment.

The air of optimism here you can really feel; it is palpable. The military has had some great successes and they continue to organize and plan for success, and the Colombian people should be very proud of what General Mora and his folks have accomplished. It has truly been remarkable. As you know there are young soldiers and troops out there fighting probably this very moment, perhaps losing their lives or losing their limbs certainly scarred for life in many cases, that are trying to do the right thing for the Colombian people. So I thought you were going to ask me about that, but you asked me about a different attitude and I will go back to my previous question.

It is simply not helpful when countries do not fully support the antiterrorist fight. I think there is more to learn with respect to Venezuela and we are going to have to continue to explore that. I do not want to go any further at this point, but just to go back to the Iraq ideology, it is not helpful there when countries like Syria allow foreign fighters to come in to Iraq to kill coalition members. That is not a helpful thing. Anybody that gives any comfort or aid to terrorists is on the wrong side of the fight and we have to continue develop that intelligence and continue to work with the governments in the region to insure that does not happen.

Thank you very much.

PRESS CONFERENCE WITH GENRAL RICHARD B. MYERS
CATAM - BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
August 12, 2003


GENERAL MYERS: Good morning ladies and gentlemen. First I would like to thank General Mora for the generous hospitality that we received during this visit and obviously to his staff that makes all this go so well. I also want to express my support for President Uribe's efforts to eliminate the threats of terrorism and narcoterrorism in the region.

Terrorism of any kind affects the stability and security of not only Colombia, but also the entire Western Hemisphere. Colombia is a staunch U.S. ally in the war on terrorism and for that we thank the Colombian Government and the Colombian people.

During this trip I met, as you know, with President Uribe, Foreign Minister Barco, Minister of Defense Ramirez and of course General Mora and his staff. I also received briefings from General Mora and at the Army Military Intelligence Center. We have had some very productive meetings, and I am ready to take your questions.

First Question: James Garamone: How would you characterize your discussions in your visit to Colombia. Many people we have spoken to here have seen the progress made by Colombia in this war on narcoterrorism, but some say that it can't continue if U.S. help is no longer maintained. How do you answer them?

GENERAL MYERS: First of all, the one thing you come away with after a visit like this is the effort, dedication and determination of the Colombian government and the Colombian people to rid this country of terrorism so their families and their children and grandchildren can live in peace and prosperity.

Clearly we have been full partners with the Colombian Government going back a long way. Back to the Korean War, where Colombians fought side by side with U.S. military, to their support on the War on Terrorism and our continuing support down here, to help Colombia rid this country of narcoterrorists, drugs, and terrorism. We are committed to that. As I mentioned in my opening remarks, this is important not just for Colombia but it is important for the region and for the Western Hemisphere. So success here is very important for the United States and we will be a full partner.

Fernando Ramos - CNN en Español: General Myers good morning. The concern in certain sector of the U.S. Congress is increasing given the lack of results in terms of certain U.S. hostages that have been kidnapped by the FARC. Is there a possibility of more personnel or greater support, logistic support for the Colombia Armed Forces so they can solve this problem?

GENERAL MYERS: That was another great example of another act of terrorism by people who would kidnap or injure other people totally indiscriminately-- men, women and children. So we know what the threat is.

One of the ways that we are trying to assist, and one of the most important things the United States Military can do, is to help the Colombian Military with their planning, with their use of intelligence, and with some basic training. The one thing we don't have to help the Colombian Military with is their courage and their determination.

I contrast to when I was here three years ago, this military is a very competent Military, very dedicated to the mission that they have before them. And we will continue to work with those areas where we can assist the planning, the use of intelligence, intelligence analysis and so forth. But before you can go after hostages or anything like that, you have to have good intelligence; and that is where we are going to put our emphasis and you also have to the ability to use that intelligence wisely and that is on the planning piece and we are helping with that.

Vanessa Arington - Associated Press: Hi, good morning.

GENERAL MYERS: Good morning.

Vanessa Arrington - Associated Press: Given the continuing violence in Colombia, underlined by the latest wave of bomb attacks this weekend and the success in the eradication of drug crops, will you recommend a shift in U.S. resources to focus more on counterinsurgency activities in Colombia? And also will the United States have to start cutting back in Colombia to address military and financial commitment in other troubled regions?

GENERAL MYERS: Well, on that last part, we have said consistently when people say, well the U.S. military is very busy. We are busy in Afghanistan, we are busy in Iraq, and we are busy on the horn of Africa. But we have lots of obligations; military obligations, security obligations around the world, and our continuing analysis is that we can continue those and that will include Colombia as well. So I do not see this having any impact, I don't see what is going on in the rest of the world having any impact on our support to Colombia.

In terms of the characterization of our support, you know the U.S. Government and the Congress made the decision that our training and our support here could be used for the terrorist as well as the drug problem, which is a realization that the two are really related. You cannot separate them and that is particularly true here in Colombia. I would think that the characteristics of our support will continue as they have, in terms of the items I mentioned before. We will be very involved in training the Colombian Military. Some of that training may change character as more and more battalions are trained. We may train in more specialties as we look at this maybe just slightly differently than we did at the first of the year. The intelligence piece has to come along, and the planning piece has to come along; we are involved in all of those.

Carlos Barragan - Noticiero Canal Caracol: The visit that you had with President Uribe and with the military in Colombia. What did you come here to offer in a meeting prior to the Rumsfeld visit?

GENERAL MYERS: The purpose of the visit of course was to visit with General Mora, to be updated on our military to military cooperation. It was not connected to Secretary of Defense's visit; he will visit next week and that is a separate issue. We did talk with President Uribe on a variety of topics to include regional security topics as well as issues about Colombia.

As we heard from the military, we heard from the political leadership of this country, the President, his priorities for dealing with this threat and that was very useful. Very useful to hear how important he thought various items were and various priorities were.

So we went through that, very useful for me, to hear that first hand. But there were no "deliverables" per se. This is just part of a visit on my part just to meet with the military leadership here in Colombia. We reviewed their strategy yesterday; we spent about two and a half hours together looking at the strategy the military has put together and the Minister Defense has put together that fits into the National Strategy, and it is very impressive. The strategic work they have done is extremely impressive. Much like the work that we have done in the United States on the war on Terrorism in a global sense. A lot of parallels. We reviewed that; we looked at some of the ways that they have connected intelligence and operations to be quicker and more agile, more flexible in going after some of the leadership targets. And we also talked about some of their successes, and they have had some successes. So that's the reason I visited, to get a sense you cannot get inside Washington, D.C. It is always better to come here and talk with people in their countries.

Andrea Peña - Colprensa: General Myers good morning. Perhaps to return to the previous question. What new issues, what concrete issues did you agree on with President Uribe and with the Minister of Defense and the Colombian leadership?

GENERAL MYERS: A whole variety of issues. We talked about the resumption of the air bridge denial program, we talked about regional security issues in terms of other countries in the neighborhood, and how they can help defeat terrorism. The analogy there is much like Iraq. In Iraq, we have asked the countries that surround Iraq to be very helpful in the coalition's objectives inside Iraq and it is not helpful when they allow either arms or other fighters to enter Iraq from outside Iraq.

The same thing is true in Colombia. The same sort of cooperation you need from the surrounding countries is very important. So we talked about that, we talked about some specific things and I am not going to go into detail, specific things the militaries could do to help. I will mention one of them. One of them is in the area of demining and some demining training; we talked about that as well. So many, many subjects. We had a long discussion with the President, even longer with the military leadership, to get a sense of how our assistance can be improved and I think I gave you some of the issues there. Thank You.

Andres Valero - CM& Television: General Myers, pretty much in connection with that last question. How do you consider the perception of the Venezuela Government surrounding around the gossip or information about cooperation with guerrillas in Colombia? What is the perception that you have? Is Venezuela a concern in this regard?

GENERAL MYERS: First of all I thought you were going to ask about the determination and the attitude of the Colombian military. Let me go back to that for a second and then we will get to Venezuela in just a moment.

The air of optimism here you can really feel; it is palpable. The military has had some great successes and they continue to organize and plan for success, and the Colombian people should be very proud of what General Mora and his folks have accomplished. It has truly been remarkable. As you know there are young soldiers and troops out there fighting probably this very moment, perhaps losing their lives or losing their limbs certainly scarred for life in many cases, that are trying to do the right thing for the Colombian people. So I thought you were going to ask me about that, but you asked me about a different attitude and I will go back to my previous question.

It is simply not helpful when countries do not fully support the antiterrorist fight. I think there is more to learn with respect to Venezuela and we are going to have to continue to explore that. I do not want to go any further at this point, but just to go back to the Iraq ideology, it is not helpful there when countries like Syria allow foreign fighters to come in to Iraq to kill coalition members. That is not a helpful thing. Anybody that gives any comfort or aid to terrorists is on the wrong side of the fight and we have to continue develop that intelligence and continue to work with the governments in the region to insure that does not happen.

Thank you very much.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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