We will continue to support the democratic aspirations of Asians and to promote respect for human rights. Our strategy includes: a constructive approach toward achieving progress on human rights, religious freedom and rule of law issues with China; fostering meaningful political dialogue between the ruling authorities in Burma and the democratic opposition; promoting democracy and encouraging greater respect for human rights in Cambodia; and, in Vietnam, achieving the fullest possible accounting of missing U.S. service members and promoting greater respect for human rights.
The October 1999 election in which Abdurrahman Wahid was elected President and Megawati Sukarnoputri as Vice President was a historic moment for Indonesia, putting it on course toward becoming the world’s third largest democracy. The United States strongly supports a united, prosperous and democratic Indonesia that plays a positive role in regional security. We look forward to working with Indonesia’s new leaders to meet the challenges of national reconciliation, democratic reform and economic recovery that lie ahead.
The referendum in East Timor on August 30, 1999 was conducted fairly by the United Nations with the agreement of the Indonesian Government. It produced a clear mandate for independence, but armed groups opposed to independence attempted to overturn the results through violence. To stop the violence, restore order and resume the transition process, the UN Security Council unanimously approved creation of a Multi-National Force (I NTERFET) led by Australia. INTERFET accomplished its mission of establishing secure conditions throughout East Timor and an international peacekeeping force under UN command (UNTAET) will take over in early 2000.
The U.S. contribution to INTERFET is relatively small, but performs highly important functions, including communications and logistical aid, intelligence, and airlift of personnel, equipment and humanitarian materiel. Additionally, elements of the U.S. Pacific Fleet have been providing support for the operation. This mission supports our interests by helping to restore stability to a region of strategic importance to the United States. East Timor is now under a UN-administered transition authority (UNTAET) and in two to three years will gain full independence. A UNTAET peacekeeping force will replace INTERFET to prevent further instability and violence as East Timor becomes an independent nation.
The Western Hemisphere
Our hemisphere enters the twenty-first century with an unprecedented opportunity to secure a future of stability and prosperity – building on the fact that every nation in the hemisphere except Cuba is democratic and committed to free market economies. The end of armed conflict in Central America and other improvements in regional security have coincided with remarkable political and economic progress throughout the Americas. The people of the Americas are taking advantage of the vast opportunities being created as emerging markets are connected through electronic commerce and as robust democracies allow individuals to more fully express their preferences. Sub-regional political, economic and security cooperation in North America, the Caribbean, Central America, the Andean region and the Southern Cone have contributed positively to peace and prosperity throughout the hemisphere. Equally important, the people of the Americas have reaffirmed their commitment to combat together the difficult threats posed by drug trafficking and corruption. The United States seeks to secure the benefits of this new climate in the hemisphere, while safeguarding our citizens against these threats.
The principal security concerns in the hemisphere are transnational in nature, such as drug trafficking, organized crime, money laundering, illegal immigration, firearms trafficking, and terrorism. In addition, our hemisphere is leading the way in recognizing the dangers to national and regional stability produced by corruption and ineffective legal systems. All of these threats, especially drug trafficking, produce adverse social effects that undermine the sovereignty, democracy and national security of nations in the hemisphere.
Working through the Organization of American States (OAS) and other organizations, we are seeking to eliminate the scourge of drug trafficking in our hemisphere. The Multilateral Counterdrug Alliance is striving to better organize and coordinate efforts to extradite and prosecute individuals charged with drug trafficking and related crimes; combat money laundering; seize assets used in criminal activity; halt illicit traffic in chemical precursors; strike at the financial support networks; enhance national drug abuse awareness and treatment programs; and eliminate illicit crops through alternative development and eradication programs. We are also pursuing a number of bilateral and regional counterdrug initiatives. In the Caribbean, and bilaterally with Mexico and Colombia, we are working to increase counterdrug and law enforcement cooperation.
We are advancing regional security cooperation through: bilateral security dialogues; multilateral efforts in the OAS and Summit of the Americas on transparency and regional confidence and security building measures, exercises and exchanges with key militaries (principally focused on peacekeeping); and regular Defense Ministerials. Last year, the guarantor nations of the Peru-Ecuador peace process – Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States – brought the parties to a permanent solution to this decades-old border dispute, the resolution of which was important to regional stability. The Military Observer Mission, Ecuador-Peru (MOMEP), composed of the four guarantor nations, successfully separated the warring factions, creating the mutual confidence and security necessary to resolve the dispute. Our efforts to encourage multilateral cooperation are enhancing confidence and security within the region and will help expand our cooperative efforts to combat the transnational threats to the Western Hemisphere.
Colombia is of particular importance because its problems extend beyond its borders and have implications for regional peace and security. Insurgency, drug trafficking and a growing paramilitary movement are testing democracy in Colombia. To turn the tide, President Pastrana needs U.S. assistance to wage a comprehensive effort to promote the mutually reinforcing goals of peace, combating drug trafficking, economic development, and respect for human rights.
Working closely with us, the Government of Colombia has developed an aggressive three-year strategy, Plan Colombia, to revive their economy, strengthen the democratic pillars of society, promote the peace process and eliminate sanctuaries for narcotics producers and traffickers. We will significantly increase assistance for Plan Colombia in a manner that will concurrently promote U.S. and Colombian interests, and we will encourage our allies and international institutions to do the same.
Economic growth and integration in the Americas will profoundly affect the prosperity of the United States in the twenty-first century. This begins with our immediate neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Canada is our largest merchandise export market and trade partner in the world, and our exports to Canada have grown rapidly as the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement phased in. U.S.