1LEF218 03/22/94*


(Story based on 3/31 ITU meeting) mg (680)

(With Lsi204 of 03/22/94)

By Jaime Lopez Recalde

USIA Special Correspondent

BUENOS AIRES -- Argentine President Carlos Menem and U.S. Vice President Al

Gore hailed the excellent results obtained through privatization and

deregulation in the field of telecommunication.

They also urged world support for technological advances that benefit

mankind through improved education, more accesible health systems, and

protection of human rights through better reporting of violations.

The two spoke at the opening of the First World Telecommunications

Development Conference March 21.  The conference was organized by the

International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations organization of 182

countries based in Geneva.

One of the objectives of the nine-day conference is to explore the expansion

of modern telecommunications to the most remote parts of the world,

especially the poorest countries.

Menem discussed his successful economic program based on privatization and

the free-market concept.  He thanked the audience for the opportunity to

tell the world "of our accomplishments in transforming the state and

deregulating and privatizing the communications system."  Now the state, he

said, can concentrate on its primary responsibility -- delivery of basic

services to the community:  education, public health, and security.

"Public services in government hands were turned over to the private

sector," Menem said.  "The first positive results came from the

telecommunications sector.  This brought state-of-the-art technology, and

we have seen significant progress in the last three years.  We have made

important progress in cellular telephony.  We have set up an internal

satellite and taken the telephone to rural areas."

From a political point of view, Menem said, "no progress can be made without

a healthy economy and no nation is free if the right to communication is

not guaranteed.

"Freedom of communication makes it possible to defend human rights because

violations can be reported."

ITU Secretary General Pekka Tarjanne said the benefits of telecommunications

should be extended to all nations of the world "in order to defend human

rights, combat poverty, and further economic and social progress."

Gore described the "information superhighway," which is part of a program

called the Global Information Infrastructure (GII).  "We now can at last

create a planetary information network that transmits messages and images

with the speed of light from the largest city to the smallest village on

every continent," he said.

"This GII will circle the globe with information superhighways on which all

people can travel.  These highways -- or, more accurately, networks of

distributed intelligence -- will allow us to share information, to connect,

and to communicate as a global community.

"From these connections we will derive robust and sustainable economic

progress, strong democracies, better solutions to global and local

environmental challenges, improved health care, and -- ultimately -- a

greater sense of shared stewardship of our small planet."

He added that the GII "will greatly promote the ability of nations to

1ooperate with each other.  I see an new Athenian Age of democracy forged

in the fora the GII will create."

Gore said the U.S. National Information Infrastructure "will be built and

maintained by the private sector.  It will consist of hundreds of different

networks, run by different companies and using different technologies, all

connected together in a giant `network of networks,' providing telephone

and interactive digital video to almost every American."

The U.S. plan is based on five principles:  encourage private investment;

promote competition; create a flexible regulatory framework that can keep

pace with rapid technological and market changes; provide open access to

the network for all information providers; and ensure universal service.

At the airport as he prepared to leave for Brazil, Gore praised Menem's

achievements in economics and foreign policy, especially the participation

of Argentine soldiers in United Nations missions in the former Yugoslavia,

Cyprus, Croatia, and other regions of the world.