Fw: WH Travel Pool 4/10 #9: SICA Spray

From: Memoli, Michael [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2015 01:59 PM
To: Barnes, Desiree N.
Subject: WH Travel Pool 4/10 #9: SICA Spray

POTUS is participating in a roundtable discussion with leaders from the SICA national leaders at the RIU Hotel. Pool heard statements at the top from Guatemala President Otto Pérez Molina first and then POTUS. No major headlines – Perez thanked the U.S. for its commitment to the region and discussed progress made since last year’s migration crisis at the southern border. POTUS touted a “strong common agenda” and stressed that what was good for the region is good for the United States.

The scene: another logistical challenge, to say the least, as U.S. press pool competed with press from other international outlets for scarce space. Your vertically challenged pooler did not have a good vantage point to describe seating arrangements but did note that POTUS sat to Perez’s left in the panel, with Secretary Kerry to his right.

Perez spoke first in Spanish, rough remarks as translated: First he thanked Obama for providing the space for the dialogue. “We know we have challenges but that the United States is interested in making sure challenges are faced together.” He said the U.S. worked with them to “solve” the unaccompanied minors crisis but they look forward to finding long- and mid-range solutions to other challenges.

Discussed border integration plan with Honduras and conceded they are “still struggling, we’re still fighting against trans national criminals.”

At 1:18pm POTUS began speaking.  He said the region is important to the U.S. “not just because of proximity” but because of the “incredible bonds” between our peoples. “It is up to us to make sure the United States stands in solidarity and partnership with the countries around this table.”

He noted criminal elements and narco-trafficking “thrives when people feel they have no other pathway to success.”

The president noted his budget includes $1 billion to support regional initiatives and said he was excited to work with the nations to find out what other things can be successful in their countries, with a focus on governance and transparency issues. He praised Panama as a “useful model” of how good governance can promote economic development and referenced the Copa/Boeing announcement.

He closed by saying there was a “strong common agenda. What is good for the region is good for the United States.”

Pool left at 1:23pm and after brief hold is now in another larger conference room for the CEO Summit of the Americas.

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