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Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and an Exchange With Reporters

March 30, 2001

President Bush. Thank you all for coming. It's my honor to welcome our friend from Brazil. Mr. President, we are honored—we're honored to have you here. We've got a lot in common. Brazil is a vast nation. It's a democracy. It's a country with a huge economic potential. It's a Government run by a good man.

We've had a good, frank discussion about a lot of subjects. There's no question in my mind that we'll have good relations over the next years. And there's no question in my mind that as we cooperate together, the people of both our countries will benefit.

We've discussed a lot of topics, including trade. We've agreed to work closely together to see if we can't come up with a way for our nations to continue to interface with each other. This country invests a lot of money in Brazil, because Brazil's a safe place to invest money. And we're going to keep it that way, keep our relationship strong.

So Mr. President, welcome, glad to have you here.

President Cardoso. Thank you very much, sir. Let me say that I am very glad to be here, be with you. I knew your father. Now I'm very glad to see the way you are. As I said yesterday, I will put—take out my glasses to see your eyes, because you said that you would like to see my eyes directly.

President Bush. That's right. [Laughter]

President Cardoso. I must say that it was a very pleasant conversation about several issues. And I do agree with you, sir, on the sense that Brazil and the United States have to be close and close not just in terms of trade but in terms of the hemisphere in general, in terms of security, in terms of democracy. We have shared values; so why not work together?

And also because we know our responsibilities across the world. We know that the world is uneven, and it's necessary to work—to do a lot of things to offer more perspective to the world, to the hemisphere, to Africa and other parts. And the United States and Brazil can work together. We will work together.

I also see that you are a very informal kind of people, as I am, so I am very glad.

President Bush. Thank you, sir.

President Cardoso. If you allow me now, I speak a little bit in Portuguese because there are lots of Brazilians over there.

[At this point, President Cardoso spoke in Portuguese, and a translation was not provided.]

President Bush. We'll have one question from the American press, one question from the Brazilian press, and then everybody can go home for the weekend.

Slobodan Milosevic

Q. Mr. President, there seems to be an effort underway in Belgrade to arrest Mr. Milosevic. Does the United States support this? Will the United States contribute in any way to getting it done? What do you think should happen to him?

President Bush. Well, we've always said that Mr. Milosevic ought to be brought to justice. I had a visit with the Secretary of State about this very matter. We're watching it very carefully. We will cooperate in any way that we're asked to do so.

Brazil-U.S. Trade

Q. Mr. President, in terms of trade, have you, Mr. President, President Cardoso and President Bush, have you been able—do you think that you are going to be able to bridge the differences between the two countries? Are you ready as free traders to fight the protectionists in each of your respective countries?

President Bush. Absolutely, we can work together. We had a very good discussion about trade. The President and I have made a decision that we'll work closely to iron out any differences that may exist. Obviously, each of us have got different issues that we have to deal with within our own borders. I'm mindful of that; so is the President. But the thing that's important is the spirit of cooperation. There are no differences when it comes to the desire to cooperate. I'm confident we'll have a very fruitful relationship. It's in our Nation's best interests that we have close relations with Brazil.

For those of you who have never heard me say this, good relations in our neighborhood is not going to be an afterthought for our foreign policy in America. The best foreign policy starts with making sure that relations in our own hemisphere are very positive. And the fact that the President would come here to Washington and have a fruitful dialog with me is an indication that not only are we interested but so is the President. For that, I'm very grateful.

President Cardoso. That's true. I do agree with the President. I believe that— we have, of course, from time to time, some difference. That's normal between nations. Yesterday the President said, American—to be American first. Well, I would say the same, to be Brazil first. That's normal. But then let's see how to cooperate.

And the point is that regarding trade— you asked what about trade—our problems are going—are being discussed in several meetings. We have been making progress toward a more free trade. Of course we're going to have to take into account the situation in Brazil, Brazilians' interests, and we'll have to see how to solve, eventually, what can be a conflict of interest, but very localized interest, very specific interest. We cannot generalize as if American and Brazil will clash.

No, by being one point to have the difference. So let's try to work together to solve the difference. That's the way.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:15 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to former President Slobodan Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro). A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks Prior to Discussions With President Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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