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Cheney Defends Myanmar Dealings, Contract Help

October 28, 2000|MEGAN GARVEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Dick Cheney defended the company he headed until joining the Republican ticket, saying Friday that the business dealings of Halliburton Co. in Myanmar, a country with well-documented human rights violations, were "fully in compliance with U.S. policy."

He also addressed questions raised about help State Department officials gave the Dallas-based oil services company in gaining contracts overseas. Memos released by the State Department this week showed government officials had aggressively helped Halliburton gain lucrative contracts in Asia and Africa.

During the vice presidential debate, Cheney had said that "the government had absolutely nothing to do" with his financial success in the private sector.

In remarks made on his campaign plane Friday and on CNN's "Larry King Live" program Friday night, Cheney noted that such intervention by government officials is common on behalf of American companies doing business overseas. He said he did not consider it special help.

"That's their job," he said on CNN. "They get paid to do that. And we paid anywhere from 38 to 40% of everything we earned in the form of taxes to support the government."

Cheney was also asked about a Wall Street Journal story that detailed Halliburton's continuing work in Myanmar, where such practices as forced labor are not uncommon.

Most U.S. companies, including Texaco Inc. and Arco, ceased doing business in the Southeast Asian nation, formerly known as Burma, years ago.

"You have to operate in some very difficult places and oftentimes in countries that are governed in a manner that's not consistent with our principles here in the United States," he told Larry King.

Earlier on his campaign plane, Cheney emphasized that he has opposed the use of economic sanctions against wayward nations.

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