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Why Do You Think They Call It A Rain Forest?

Clinton gets soaked on visit to Costa Rican national park


SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AllPolitics, May 9) -- After a day of Central American summitry, President Bill Clinton visited one of Costa Rica's most impressive tropical rain forests today, and got soaked in the process.

The famed Braulio Carillo National Park, near Costa Rica's capital city, served as a backdrop for Clinton and President Jose Figueres to sign an agreement to share environmental technology.

"We destroy these resources at our peril," Clinton said during his visit to the park, known for its towering, fog-shrouded mountain peaks, dripping trees and exotic birds.

A downpour hit during their visit, and Figueres joked about the weather.

"You were very, very emphatic about wanting to visit a rain forest," Figueres kidded Clinton. "We have some thunder and lightning on order in a few minutes."

Clinton urged Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to sign the document "before the paper is too wet."

The day's focus was on environmental protection and the need for Latin America to do more to protect the natural environment, despite the pressures of population growth and deforestation.

The U.S.-Costa Rica agreement includes several initiatives. The U.S. will assist Costa Rica in finding ways to use electric vehicles to cut smog, and a U.S. company will sell electric buses to the country. In addition, Costa Rica will provide the U.S. with computer software used to track biodiversity in its rain forests. American officials are interested in using it in U.S. national parks.

The business side of Clinton's weeklong trip ends Saturday in Barbados, with a meeting of Caribbean leaders.

The president and first lady were scheduled to return to Washington, D.C. Monday, but are now considering returning a day early. "The trip is taking its wear and tear," White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said.

After attending meetings on Saturday in Barbados, the president and Mrs. Clinton will phone home, speak with daughter Chelsea, and then decide whether to return on Sunday.

In the meantime, the White House announced yet two more summit meetings. President Clinton is planning a stop in London later this month to meet with new British Prime Minister Tony Blair. And next month, Clinton will go to New York attend an environmental summit, a followup to a summit held in Rio De Janeirio in 1992.

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