Clinton tells Brazil U.S. backs its growth But he nudges nation to join effort to reduce greenhouse gasses


BRASILIA, Brazil -- President Clinton had a simple message for Brazil yesterday, and he delivered it over and over, in several different ways: The United States takes this country seriously. Really. It doesn't want to dictate relations in the hemisphere, but just to do more business.

Appearing at a joint news conference in Brasilia with Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Clinton tried repeatedly to dispel long-standing Brazilian suspicions of American attitudes. In answer to a Brazilian journalist's question, he said that he did not feel threatened by the emergence of Brazil as a hemispherical powerhouse.

"I actually support the emergence of countries to a greater role of influence and responsibilities, as long as they share our basic values," Clinton said. Those values, he said, included commitments to democracy, open trade and environmental protection.

This is the first visit of his presidency to Brazil, and Clinton appeared anxious to play catch-up. He and his aides repeatedly have noted that the European Union is rushing in to capitalize on Brazil's growing economy.

But Clinton did not only play the supplicant. He gently nudged Brazil toward joining in an international effort to reduce greenhouse gasses. As nations prepare for a conference on global warming in December in Japan, a central dispute is whether developing countries should share the burden of cutting emissions when developed ones have enjoyed most of the benefits of profligately polluting.

While he said that "we must all participate" in reducing such gasses, Clinton emphasized that he did not expect Brazil's efforts to interfere with its economic growth.

"The United States would never knowingly make any suggestion that would undermine the growth of Brazil or any other country," he said.

For his part, Cardoso repeatedly praised his relations with Clinton and Brazil's with the United States, updating the American saw about General Motors: "We feel what's good for Brazil is good for the United States, and what's good for the United States is good for Brazil as well."

But he made clear that Brazil would continue expanding trade with all comers, whether or not Clinton ultimately wins so-called fast-track authority from Congress to conduct trade negotiations.

"If there is going to be this sort of a policy or not is the United States' problem," Cardoso said.

Clinton later flew to Sao Paulo. Today he spends a few hours in Rio de Janeiro and then heads over to Argentina. He returns to Washington on Sunday.

Pub Date: 10/15/97

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