Biden sees Uruguay as model nation, White House adviser says

Montevideo, Apr 15 (EFE).- US President Joe Biden believes the world would be a better place if there were more countries like Uruguay, the White House’s senior Latin America adviser said Thursday during his visit to that small South American country.

In remarks in this capital, Juan Gonzalez highlighted Uruguay’s tradition of pragmatic leadership and said that record deserves global recognition.

“We’re sending a message of hope to the Uruguayan people that the United States has returned to the international and multilateral arena. Uruguay matters; the country’s points of view are relevant and important. We want to learn from Uruguay’s experience. We want to work jointly on several different issues and we’re returning with a great deal of optimism,” the adviser said.

Gonzalez took part Thursday in several meetings with senior Uruguayan officials, including President Luis Lacalle Pou; Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo; the ministers of the interior and of national defense, Jorge Larrañaga and Javier Garcia, respectively; and the director of the Secretariat of Strategic State Intelligence, Alvaro Garce.

Although a range of topics were addressed, the focus was on security (Gonzalez is the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere) and the fight against drug trafficking in the region.

Besides visiting Uruguay, the US officials’ three-nation Latin American tour also included stops in Colombia and Argentina.

“In most of the region, the impact of drug trafficking is the result of demand in the United States. We recognize that and our responsibility is to reduce demand. Many of the drugs that pass through Argentina and Uruguay are en route to Europe or Africa, so it’s a responsibility that we all share,” Gonzalez said.

He also termed the meeting with Uruguay’s security officials as very positive because that country “is always focused on concrete results,” adding that the two sides agreed to set the stage for a new meeting in Washington in the near future.

For his part, Garcia, the Uruguayan defense minister, told reporters that the visit confirmed the US’ vision as pertains to the South American region and characterized it as “very important.”

He added that Uruguay’s distinguished participation in peacekeeping missions was highlighted during the meeting and that emphasis was placed on the need to combat organized crime.

Also part of the US delegation was the acting assistant secretary for the Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Julie Chung, who said it is an “exciting time to collaborate and build upon the strength of our relationship with Uruguay.”

“In the State Department, we have a great bilateral relationship but we also recognize the unique role … that Uruguay plays for the region as a pillar of democracy, human rights and rule of law. These are all very important to the United States and this administration,” she added. EFE


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