Opening Remarks by Secretary Nielsen at the IV Security Meeting of the Northern Triangle

I’d like to thank:

  • Minister Degenhart [Day-gun-heart];
  • Minister Pacheco [Puh-checko]; and
  • Minister Landaverde [Lan-duh-bear-day] for inviting me to join you all today.

And a big thanks to the El Salvadoran government for hosting this ministerial.

We face a crisis—all of us—a humanitarian and security crisis that is affecting every country here and in our region. And we must show our strengthened dedication to resolving it.  

We are here today for a historic purpose.  

Today, we will discuss the development of a new regional security plan to address the problem of irregular migration…to bolster border security…to target human smugglers and traffickers to protect vulnerable populations…and to crack down on transnational criminal organizations.

Our discussions today are about partnership and decisive action.  As I proposed to your colleagues last summer when we gathered in Guatemala, we must work together to tackle these common challenges. You have had previous discussions as Northern Triangle ministers on these issues, and I am pleased and honored to join you here today to further that dialogue.   

I look forward to learning as always, and listening from you. Learning from your expertise and finding ways that we can be more supportive from the United States.

To ensure safe legal and orderly migration, we must, and we will, focus on expanding our joint efforts to address the root causes.  We must together fight the criminal groups that are fueling this crisis and that prey on vulnerable populations.

I appreciate the dedication of each one of my colleagues here today at my table in pursuing solutions.  And today I ask each of you to show bold leadership to stop the formation of new caravans, which have brought violence, crime, and instability to the region and beyond.  

The Joint Statement I have come prepared to sign today is meant to outline a clear path to a formal Memorandum of Cooperation between our Security Ministries. This will be a “regional compact” between the United States, the Northern Triangle countries and we hope for the close continuing involvement of Mexico, including their participation in a final agreement. The compact will cover four distinct areas:

  • Combating Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling
  • Countering Organized Crime and Gangs
  • Expanding Information and Intelligence Sharing
  • Strengthening Border Security

The Memorandum will also call for regular meetings—at the senior and working levels—to drive these efforts forward quickly. I look forward to participating in those.

Today I hope we can agree to this Joint Statement and a pathway to the regional compact. Time is of the essence

We share common cause in solving the crisis…and we share common cause in advancing the prosperity and security of our nations.

Thank you again very much for the invitation, and I look forward to productive conversation today.

Watch the Speech at