Public Papers - 1989
Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on President Bush's Meeting With President Virgilio Barco Vargas of Colombia
President Bush and President Barco met for approximately 1/2\ hours in the Residence, followed by a brief social reception. Joining them were Attorney General Thornburgh, Drug Coordinator William Bennett, General Scowcroft [Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs], Governor Sununu [Chief of Staff], Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, Deputy National Security Adviser Gates, and Ambassador McNamara. President Barco is in the United States to address the United Nations General Assembly. President Bush took the opportunity to invite him to the White House for a discussion of the international drug situation and President Barco's courageous efforts against the drug cartels. President Bush reaffirmed the strong commitment of the United States in assisting President Barco's efforts and noted that Colombia's fight against the drug traffickers is an example to the rest of the world.
The two Presidents talked about the domestic drug problem in the United States and the administration's efforts to reduce consumption. They discussed U.S. assistance to Colombia to ensure that Colombia was receiving the necessary equipment in its fight against drug traffickers. They also discussed the possibility of other nations assisting Colombia in its efforts against the cartels, and President Bush indicated his willingness to encourage such support. President Barco outlined the efforts that the Government of Colombia is taking against drug traffickers. He expressed his appreciation for the help of the United States and noted that this is a global effort in which international cooperation is important.
President Barco also discussed Colombia's economic situation. President Bush said the United States is prepared to resume discussions with Colombia and others in order to resolve the fundamental problems of the current International Coffee Agreement.
President Bush indicated his intention to work closely with President Barco to expand bilateral trade and investment opportunities in order to spur Colombia's economic growth. He has asked the U.S. Trade Representative to lead an interagency effort to examine urgently what can be done, particularly with respect to GSP benefits and in the area of agricultural and manufactured items. President Bush noted the United States willingness to work with the international financial institutions to support increased economic assistance for Colombia.