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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 5, 2001
10:12 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. President, Mrs. Fox, members of the Mexican delegation, distinguished guests: On behalf of the American people, it is my honor to welcome you to the United States.
Mexico is the first country I visited as President. Today it is my privilege to welcome President Fox for the first state visit of my administration. This is a recognition that the United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico.
The starting point of a sound foreign policy is to build a stable and prosperous neighborhood, with good relations amongst neighbors. Good neighbors work together and benefit from each other's successes.
Mr. President, you are a Mexican patriot with a great vision for a great people -- a vision of justice and prosperity. Your election signaled a new birth of freedom for Mexico and set an example for the entire world. The United States is proud to stand beside you as your partner and as your friend.
Our nations have an historic opportunity to build an authentic partnership grounded in trust and in freedom. Since 1994, the Free Trade Agreement amongst our two countries and Canada has created millions of jobs and lifted millions of lives. NAFTA stands as a model for the benefits that are possible when trade is open and free. Today, our two nations are working together to extend the benefits of free trade throughout our hemisphere and throughout the world.
Our common interests, however, extend far beyond commerce. We value the cultural contributions each nation makes to each other. We treasure the family ties that bind so many millions of our citizens. We understand that the border we share is a vibrant region that unites us.
We understand that our two nations must work together in a spirit of respect and common purpose to seize opportunities and tackle challenges on the issues that affect the lives of our citizens, including migration, the environment, drugs, crime, corruption, and education. And both our governments share a great project, a fully democratic Western Hemisphere that grows in prosperity and trades in freedom.
Some have described the century that just passed as the American century. Now we look forward. We have a chance to build a century of the Americas, in which all our people, North and South, find the blessings of liberty. This goal is worthy of our two great nations.
A Mexican proverb tells us that "Que tiene un buen vecino tiene un buen amigo" -- "He who has a good neighbor has a good friend." Today, both our countries are committed to being good neighbors, and good friends. Friends deal in good faith, and disagree with respect. Friends stick together, in good times and in bad.
Most of all, friends bring out the best in each other. Today, Mexico and the United States are bringing out the best in each other -- in commerce, in culture, and in our shared commitment to democratic values. We're building a relationship that is unique in the world, a relationship of unprecedented closeness and cooperation. And this visit is a milestone on that journey.
President Fox, in February you welcomed me in your home in Guanajuato. Today, Laura and I and the American people are honored to welcome you and Mrs. Fox to the casa blanca nuestro pais. (Laughter.) Thank you for coming. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT FOX: President George Bush, Mrs. Laura Welsh Bush, ladies and gentlemen, friends, all: I want to express to you my most sincere thanks for this warm reception, and to present to you, Mr. President, and to the people of the United States, the greeting of fraternity, warmth and solidarity of the people of Mexico. It is a great honor for me to come once again to this great nation and to have the privilege of enjoying your hospitality.
I have come to Washington today as the President of a democratic Mexico, of a Mexico determined to become a prosperous, secure nation, open to the world; a vibrant and dynamic country which seeks not only to strengthen its bonds of friendship with the rest of the international community, but is also determined to play a more active role in establishing the new international architecture.
I have said with conviction on several occasions that our two countries at present are living in an era which is unique in the history of our relations -- an era full of challenges that we must face united, and of opportunities which we must take up together. For it is only in this way that we will be able to make that area of prosperity shared between Mexico and the United States that we are building a reality, along with Canada and all of North America.
Today our countries have an intense flow of trade. Today Mexico buys from the United States more products and services than from Spain, Germany, France and Italy, combined. We share the most dynamic border in the world. The contacts between the cities and the states along the border are growing and diverse in nature. And our societies have links which grow stronger and more friendly every day.
We wish to take advantage of that foundation in order to strengthen our economic ties, providing a lasting and mutually beneficial solution to the challenges that naturally arise in a relationship as complex and dynamic as our own. We wish to consolidate our cultural and educational exchange, aware of the wealth of our heritage and traditions, and attaching special importance to scientific, technological and computer exchanges.
We also wish to strengthen in every sense of the word our cooperation in fighting drug trafficking and organized crime. Likewise, we want to continue making progress towards the establishment of an agreement on migration which will be of mutual benefit to us, and which will recognize above all the value of migrants as human beings and as workers whose hard work is a daily contribution to the prosperity of this great nation.
The time has come to give migrants and their communities their proper place in the history of our bilateral relations. Both our countries owe them a great deal. And working together, both of us can build new conditions of fairness for them, as well as for the development and prosperity of our two nations.
For this reason, we must, and we can, reach an agreement on migration before the end of this very year, which will allow us, before the end of our respective terms, to make sure that there are no Mexicans who have not entered this country legally in the United States, and that those Mexicans who have come into the country do so with the proper documents.
Mr. President, the values that we share and the interests that bind us must reaffirm our determination to make of the relationship between Mexico and the United States an example of prosperity and understanding. And this will only be possible if we are willing to strengthen the trust between our two nations, because it is only through trust that we will be able to reach the goals that we have set for ourselves.
Together, let us defend the values of democracy and the respect for human rights in our region and throughout the world. Let us see free trade as the engine of economic growth and the source of a better standard of living for our two peoples. Let us understand development with justice to be an inclusive form of prosperity. Let us make law and respect for the law the indispensable framework on which the freedom and security of our citizens depend.
Let us walk together along the path of prosperity with a firm step as partners and as friends, recalling the words of Benjamin Franklin: "A brother may not be a friend, but a friend will always be a brother."
President Bush, my friend, you honored me by visiting my home in Mexico. Today, I feel honored to be welcomed here in the White House. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 10:37 A.M. EDT