Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales In
Bogota , Colombia
August 24, 2005

Good morning.

First, let me begin by thanking my colleague, Mr. Mario Iguaran. Thank you, Mr. Prosecutor-General, for your time this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to represent President Bush and the people of the United States in this important visit to Colombia.

I want to express the appreciation of the United States for President Uribe’s continuing leadership and for the example he sets for world leaders who share his commitment to combating terrorism and drug trafficking. I am also deeply grateful to the Colombian people for their gracious hospitality.

Over the last few years, our nations have forged increasingly strong ties. I believe that Colombia and the United States have never been closer, and we have never accomplished more together in such a relatively short time.

It is easy to understand why.

Our nations are united by a shared love for freedom and our friendship continues to grow out of our common struggle against terrorism.

The people of Colombia and America have both experienced the tragic and deadly consequences of terrorist hate. More importantly, both our nations have turned pain and sorrow into lawful action in order to build a safer world for all our children.

This trip is another step in our historic partnership. It has contributed to better and closer ties between our countries. It has reaffirmed our commitment to peace and prosperity.

As a result of our work and these meetings, we have been able to discuss honestly and openly our concerns and even our differences. More importantly, we have been able to confront challenges and find solutions together.

Like President Bush, I believe Colombia has become a beacon to the world showing the kind of progress free nations can make in the fight against corruption, injustice, and terrorism. You have shown that free people can set the course of history against the forces of greed and extremist hate.

For years now, Colombia’s elected leaders and courageous public servants —police, prosecutors, and judges—have sacrificed their time and sometimes their lives to build a better justice system for the people. Colombia is now taking historic steps to a transition to an adversarial criminal-justice system.

At the United States Department of Justice, we are committed to stand by you to help in any way we can. We have seen your progress and we admire all that you have done.

In these recent meetings, we have strengthened the communication and cooperation between our sovereign nations. Extradition is a critical tool for both our countries in the battle to ensure that criminals are brought to justice. The extradition partnership the United States has with Colombia is the best we have in the world. This important relationship enables both countries to deal effectively and forcefully with serious criminal organizations and individuals.

Last night, I expressed my appreciation to President Uribe and Minister Pretelt for this relationship. And this morning, I reiterated the sentiment to Prosecutor-General Iguaran.

With regard to extradition, I want to make it absolutely clear that the President of the United States and the government of the United States intend to honor our commitments and obligations in this bilateral relationship and on extradition orders. 

President Uribe, Prosecutor-General Iguaran, and the people of Colombia have the respect and the admiration of the American people.

I look forward to continuing our work together.

We are showing that when free nations come together hope, opportunity, and peace can be a blessing for all.