Bush and Saca meet in Washington
The president of El Salvador, Tony Saca, met with George Bush at the White House today. Here are there statements following their meeting:
PRESIDENT BUSH: Bienvenidos a mi amigo, Presidente de nuestro amigo de El Salvador. Gracias. Thanks for coming. We spent a lot of time talking together, because I value the advice of the President. We talked about a lot of subjects.
We talked about the fact that the first year of the trade agreement between the United States and El Salvador is coming up. And the President told me that a lot of people are benefitting -- a lot of people in his country are benefitting from the opportunities presented by trade. And I told him that people in our country benefit from the relationship. Under his leadership, the economy of El Salvador is strong. And I congratulate you for your leadership.
We talked about interesting opportunities available. And one, of course, is biofuels. We both recognize that the development of biofuels is in our national interests. And I thank you for your vision.
We talked about the Millennium Challenge Account that the President has ably led, and it's going to enable people in the northern part of his country to realize the benefits of free trade and commercialism.
I expressed my concerns and our condolences about the three gentlemen who were recently assassinated, which led us into a broad discussion about security and my desire to help the President deal with security issues.
And, finally, the President reminded me that TPS expires next September. Every time he comes to the Oval Office he's expressed his deep concern and strong support for his citizens that may be here in our country. And I assured him that I was open-minded to his request, but more importantly, I'm working hard to get a comprehensive bill, immigration bill, passed out of the United States Congress.
And so, once again we had a substantial and meaningful conversation. And that's what you expect when you have two friends. Gracias, señor.
PRESIDENT SACA: (As translated.) Thank you very much, Mr. President.
We have talked extensively with the President on various issues. And I spoke to President Bush about how meaningful his trip to Latin America is going to be, because this is going to give a signal that the United States is interested in Latin America.
We talked about free trade. On March 1st, the CAFTA agreement that is with El Salvador with the United States of America is going to be one year old. And during this year we have increased by 20 percent all our exports. And our economy has doubled in size. So there's no doubt that free trade has allowed this to become true.
We have also talked about the Millennium Account and the project to develop the northern part of El Salvador is going to be a complete success, and very soon we're going to have the first disbursements made. And we wanted that to be -- the project of the development of the northern part of our country to become a success story for the Millennium Account.
We also talked about the TPS with President Bush today. And the President always have a very positive answer for El Salvador. But more importantly, today is the comprehensive immigration reform -- And we will have to wait and see what happens between the executive and Congress of the United States. We have more than 2 million Salvadorans living here in the United States. The majority are legal citizens. Many are already North Americans. And the President has always been very sensitive to this issue of the Salvadorans here, for which I feel very grateful.
We talked about regional security and its importance, and also the combat to drug dealing and the combat to the gangs. And we have found many points of coincidence with the President. And we also talked with the President about biofuels, and how necessary it is to develop biofuel in the region, so that we need less gas and less oil to have our cars run. And in El Salvador we are about to pass a new law on biofuels, and it's almost ready, and we want to work hand-in-hand with President Bush for the development of these biofuels in the region.
And anyway, I always feel so comfortable when I'm sitting down and talking with my good friend every time that I come here. Thank you.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Gracias, señor.