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COSTA RICA: US PRESIDENT CLINTON TO ATTEND CEREMONY IN RAIN FOREST

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President Clinton heads to the tropical rain forest on Friday to urge that development and conservation proceed hand in hand.

The U-S leader is flying by helicopter to Costa Rica’s Carillo National Park, where he will hold up Costa Rica’s environmental efforts as an example for others to follow.

Earlier President Clinton and the leaders of the six Central American nations and the Dominican Republic rounded off their summit in Costa Rica by signing a number of agreements.

The most tangible was an “open skies” agreement promising expanded and cheaper air travel from the United States to the Central American region.

The presidents arrived at the Teatro Nacional (National Theatre) in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose in a parade of limousines.

They were cheered by thousands of young people – 30 schools had been closed to allow students to see the procession.

The leaders of the U-S, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and the Dominican Republic dealt with a number of issues at their summit.

At the top of the agenda were concerns that a tough, new American immigration law would force the mass return of Central Americans who sought asylum in the United States because of political turbulence at home.

The Central American leaders feared that a massive influx would cause social and
economic problems and rob their countries of money sent home by relatives in the U-S.

But President Clinton assured them they need not fear mass deportations and U-S officials said they would delay until 1 October implementing provisions of the law.

The most tangible result of the summit was an “open skies” agreement promising expanded and cheaper air travel from the United States.

Signed by Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States, it allows airlines to provide passenger and cargo services between any point
in either country as well as to third countries.

It also will give airlines freedom to price their services and will remove all restrictions on capacity.

The leaders also signed modest agreements on trade, crime fighting, drug control and the environment.

After the signing ceremony, the Costa Rican president proclaimed the summit “the beginning of a great new partnership”.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“We all came here with high expectations. We had the ability to share our thoughts but express the feelings of our hearts. And we all part full of optimism ready to continue our work, work that is circumscribed by the need we all have to continue bettering the conditions of living of our people.”
SUPER CAPTION: Jose Figueres, Costa Rican President

Clinton hailed a new era of peace in the region and acknowledged criticism that the U-S had paid too little attention to the region once it was no longer a Cold War battleground.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
“This has been a full and productive session. Again let me thank my colleagues for the passion and the depth of commitment they bring to this enterprise and to our shared vision of a new partnership between the United States and Central America on the brink of a new century. Thank you very much.”
SUPER CAPTION: Bill Clinton, U-S President

The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to create a free trade area in the Americas by 2005.

The Declaration of San Jose also called for the start of negotiations next spring at a
summit in Chile.

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