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El Salvador Joins Atlanta's Consular Corps

Thursday, February 17, 2005  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Dignitaries in Town Feb. 16 for Inauguration Ceremony

ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue today welcomed the opening of El Salvador’s Consulate General in Atlanta. Governor Perdue and El Salvador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honorable Francisco E. Laínez, announced yesterday that El Salvador is opening a Consulate General in Atlanta, joining 50 other countries operating or planning consulates or trade offices in the city. An official delegation from El Salvador, including the Honorable René A. León, Ambassador to the United States, attended inauguration ceremonies in Atlanta last night. Governor Perdue encouraged the opening of a Salvadoran consulate in Georgia during an official visit last summer to the Central American country.

“This Consulate General is a natural outgrowth of the strong ties between Georgia and El Salvador,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “When I visited El Salvador last year, President Saca and I discussed opportunities to improve the business and cultural relationships of our countries. With the opening of the Salvadoran Consulate General in Georgia, our plans are being realized.”

The Governor was an official guest of President Saca at his inauguration ceremony last June. During his meeting with the President and in a subsequent meeting with Foreign Minister Laínez, Governor Perdue proposed establishing the Consulate General and discussed the strong potential for enhancing business and other ties between El Salvador and Georgia.

“Governor Perdue and I agreed the mutual interests of El Salvador and the Southeast warranted establishing a permanent Consulate General in Georgia,” said Foreign Minister Laínez. “I am delighted President Saca also supported this initiative. Our new Consulate will serve the more than 75,000 Salvadorans living in its jurisdiction of Georgia, North and South Carolina and Alabama.”

Foreign Minister Laínez, accompanied by Ambassador Margarita Escobar, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for Salvadorans Abroad, and Ambassador Léon, El Salvador’s Ambassador to the United States, led the official delegation to formally inaugurate the new Consulate General of El Salvador, located at 3505 Duluth Park Lane in Duluth.

The Honorable Asdrubal Aguilar Zepeda has been appointed to head this new post as the Consul General of El Salvador in Atlanta. Consul General Aguilar has served in diplomatic positions in El Salvador and internationally since 1974, including as Vice Consul in Los Angeles and Chicago, and most recently as El Salvador’s Consul General in Chiapas, Mexico.

The more than 35,000 Salvadorans residing in Georgia are included in the new Consulate General’s jurisdiction. In addition to issuing visas and passports and performing other consular services, the office will promote trade, investment, tourism, academic and cultural relationships.

“El Salvador is among our top trading partners in the countries of the Free Trade Area of the Americas,” said Craig Lesser, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD). “We’re very pleased that Georgia is being increasingly recognized by the countries of Latin America as an essential part of their plans to expand both business interests and cultural ties.”

“The opening of this new Consulate General in Georgia, along with those announced of Brazil and Peru, illustrates the dynamic relationship between the U.S. and Latin America,” said Carlos Martel, GDEcD’s Deputy Commissioner of International Trade. “We look forward to the ratification and implementation of the CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement with the United States) and to working with the Consul General in expanding our business, educational and cultural relationships with both El Salvador and the local Salvadoran communities.”

Among FTAA countries, El Salvador ranks sixth in exports from Georgia, with an estimated $122.7 million in 2004. Several Georgia companies including Coca-Cola and UPS have interests in the country, and Delta Air Lines offers non-stop daily service between Atlanta and San Salvador, the country’s capital.

The initiative to raise awareness of Georgia’s position as the premier gateway and future home of the Secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is directed by Hemisphere, Inc., a public-private partnership chaired by Governor Perdue. Atlanta is a candidate for the Secretariat of the FTAA. The Georgia Department of Economic Development is the lead economic development agency in the state of Georgia.