San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

U.S. Says Iraq List Can’t Be Modified

Foreign Relations Minister Bruno Stagno said Wednesday that the U.S. government has formally answered Costa Rica’s requests to remove the country’s name from the “Coalition of the Willing,” a list of nations that expressed support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq in 2003. The answer from the United States: the documents, available on the White House Web site, are part of the government’s historical archives and can’t be removed.

“The government of the United States is very respectful of Costa Rica’s position and will continue respecting that decision,” U.S. Ambassador Mark Langdale wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to The Tico Times by the Foreign Relations Ministry. However, “the documents to which you refer are historical documents …even though they are no longer in effect, they form part of the historical registry and can’t be modified or removed.”

The letter stated that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had asked Langdale to respond to the Costa Rican government, and that “we regret any confusion these archives may have caused.”

Langdale wrote the letter, dated June 19, in response to a May 17 note from Stagno to Rice, through the U.S. Embassy, asking that Costa Rica’s name be removed from the list (TT, May 26). Stagno’s action, in turn, followed a vote by the Legislative Assembly in favor of formally requesting Costa Rica’s removal.

Legislators José Manuel Echandi and Alberto Salom reacted to the White House’s declaration by sending a letter Wednesday to President Oscar Arias requesting that the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize winner take further action on the matter.

Costa Rica’s appearance on the list during the administration of President Abel Pacheco (2002-2006) caused controversy and led to a September 2004 ruling by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) that the country’s inclusion is unconstitutional. That same month, then-Foreign Relations Minister Roberto Tovar requested that the United States remove Costa Rica’s name from the list.


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