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President Bush Meets With Chilean President Ricardo Lagos

Aired April 16, 2001 - 16:56   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Getting a little late news here from Washington, the Oval Office, the president meeting the Chilean president and talking a little bit about some news of the day. Let's listen in now.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

RICARDO LAGOS, PRESIDENT OF CHILE: ... your administration, our administration, and we have to work in that direction.

I'm sure that a free trade agreement, if we are able to conclude it, it's going to be important to go in this direction.

Thank you.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President.

The ground rules are a question from the American side and then a question from the Chilean side.

QUESTION: Sir, last August, when you were a candidate, you said in Miami that, quote, "When the next president sits at the American summit, other nations must know that fast-track trade authority is on the way."

Why are you going to Quebec with no promise of fast-track authority? And are you willing to compromise with Democrats to get it?

BUSH: Well, I'd certainly like to have what they call fast-track authority. Most presidents have had it. It's important for the president to fight for the right to be able to negotiate trade agreements without amendment. I believe we're making progress toward regaining that power for the president.

In the meantime, we can negotiate a bilateral treaty with Chile. It's a separate issue. And I'm confident we can get it done, Mr. President. Ambassador Zoellick is here. Ambassador Zoellick and the rest of my administration are committed to not only having a good trade agreement with Chile but also giving the president the trade promotion authority. And we'll discuss ways to get it out of the Congress when the Congress gets back. I had a meeting with the leadership on both sides of the aisle to talk about trade promotion authority. I believe we can get it done, but it's going to require a lot of hard work and effort to do so.

QUESTION: Are you willing to compromise?

BUSH: See, what happens in American politics, Mr. President, is people are always trying to get me to put my cards on the table.

(LAUGHTER)

LAGOS: Well, that's the same down there, you know.

BUSH: That happens in Chile, too?

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Mr. President, from the Italian press, Chile is looking to buy F-16 planes from the United States to modernize their army. What do you think of the sales of sophisticated arms to Latin America? Are you willing to support the request of Chile?

BUSH: I'm willing to discuss this matter with the president. I look forward to this being on the agenda that we're about to have. And we will listen to any request that our friends in our hemisphere make.

I will tell you this: I'm confident that Chile is a peaceful nation. And I'm confident that they're a democracy that intends to make the world more peaceful. And that's a good place to begin our discussions.

LAGOS: That's the way to do it.

STAFF: Thank you.

BUSH: Thank you all.

CHEN: Reporters still trying to get in questions to President Bush, but the rules -- the ground rules today are two questions from each side. The Chilean reporters as well as the U.S. reporters as the president meets with the Chilean president, Ricardo Lagos, there at the Oval Office.

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