For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 4, 2001
First Press Background Briefing
On State Visit of Mexican President Fox
Senior Administration Official
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
1:31 P.M. EDT
OFFICIAL: Good afternoon. I'll review the
schedule, event by event, of President Fox's official activities with
the United States. And it begins with his arrival this
evening at Andrews Air Force Base at 10:30 p.m. He'll be met
by the Chief of Protocol, and I plan to be there as well.
Q We can maybe have
this in writing, so we don't need to copy all of that?
OFFICIAL: It will be in the transcript. It will
be in the transcript. I have something that has more detail
than I would like to give out at this time, because it's President
Fox's personal detail.
Q What is the name
of the Chief of Protocol?
OFFICIAL: Ambassador Ensenat.
So arrival this evening at 10:30
p.m. His first official event is tomorrow at 10:00 a.m.,
when he arrives at the White House for the welcoming ceremony on the
South Lawn. That will be a traditional welcoming ceremony
with colors, anthems and remarks by both Presidents.
Q And a 21-gun
OFFICIAL: There will be the traditional event. You'll hear
it and see it and get the color of it tomorrow morning.
At 11:00 a.m., the two Presidents go to
the Oval Office for a meeting. It will -- they will be accompanied by
their immediate advisors. That would include the Secretary
of State, the National Security Advisor, the Chief of Staff, on our
side. The Attorney General will be participating, as well.
The Mexicans will have their Foreign
Minister and they are giving us the rest of their participation, as
well. And, of course, the Ambassadors to the two countries
will be participating. And the Senior Director for Western
Hemisphere Affairs will be there, as well.
Q On their side,
OFFICIAL: They will have an equivalent.
Following the Oval Office meeting there
will be a joint Cabinet meeting. And this joint Cabinet
meeting will stem from --
Q What time?
OFFICIAL: That will be at 11:00 a.m.
Q That's following
the Oval Office 11:00 a.m.?
OFFICIAL: That's following the Oval Office
meeting. I refer you to the fact sheet on Cabinet-level
Binational Commission, which you have there, which will give you all
The joint Cabinet meeting will comprise --
well, why don't I go through the schedule first, then I'll get back to
this part of it.
Following the joint Cabinet meeting there
will be a lunch at the State Department, hosted by Secretary of State
Q Time for that?
OFFICIAL: That will be at 1:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. to 2:30
The President of Mexico has other events
during the rest of the afternoon.
Q Not related to
the White House, in other words?
OFFICIAL: Unrelated to the White House
directly. One of them is an awards ceremony at the Capitol,
National Endowment for Democracy will present him with their award.
Q The time for
OFFICIAL: Four p.m. And he will be having other
meetings at Blair House, and I would refer you to the Mexicans for the
details on those.
He will have private time at 5:30
p.m. And at 7:30 p.m. he will arrive at the White House for
the State Dinner. The State Dinner will go through a series
of -- a reception line and the equivalent of a cocktail
hour. The dinner, itself -- no, first there will be a toast,
two toasts, then dinner.
Q Normally the
toast is after the dinner.
OFFICIAL: The toast will be at the beginning of the dinner.
Q Good for us.
OFFICIAL: There will be entertainment and stay tuned,
tomorrow will be a very good news day.
Q And the speeches
will be given at the toasts?
OFFICIAL: Well, the toasts are -- yes.
Q We thank the
OFFICIAL: All right. The next day, President
Fox's events having to do with the United States government begin with
an address to a joint session of Congress at 11:00 a.m. He
will meet with Vice President Cheney at 11:30 a.m. in the Vice
President's office at the Capitol.
Q The speech to the
Congress is very short, from 11:00 a.m. -- because if he's going to be
with Cheney at 11:30 a.m. --
OFFICIAL: That's right, it will fit within that time.
Q Is it in Cheney's
Capitol Hill office, or will it be back at --
OFFICIAL: In Cheney's Capitol Hill, the Vice President's
Capitol Hill office.
They're scheduled for departure from the
South Lawn at 12:35 p.m., via helicopter for Andrews. Before
that, I think Ari Fleischer announced yesterday there would be an event
with the media.
Q What time, 12:30
OFFICIAL: Twelve-thirty five p.m. is the helicopter
Q So you're
thinking departure statements possibly?
OFFICIAL: There will be departure statements and
opportunities for questions, yes. That's what Ari announced,
is that not correct?
Q Yes, that's
Q We're undecided
as to the number of questions.
Q So probably at
around noon is when those events would begin, if he's got a 12:35 p.m.
OFFICIAL: That's right. That's
correct. At 12:55 p.m. there will be departure from Andrews
for Toledo, Ohio. At 2:10 p.m., upon arrival, there will be
a welcome ceremony at the airport.
For the party composed of the two
Presidents and some of their immediate advisors will be met by Governor
Taft. There will be two events, one at the local university,
where remarks will be given. And there will be groups of
Q Are there remarks
by both Presidents?
Q Which university
OFFICIAL: You know, I think that's the University of Toledo,
but I'm not sure and I'd have to check that for you.
Q Do you have a
time for that?
OFFICIAL: Yes, that is -- no, that is after the
arrival. That would be, I would say roughly at 2:30 p.m. --
Q Then the Hispanic
OFFICIAL: Then the group would proceed to the Aurora
Gonzalez Community Center for a visit. The departure for
Andrews is scheduled for 5:00 p.m., with arrival at Andrews at 6:10
p.m., and arrival at the White House at 6:30 p.m.
And at 8:00 p.m. there will be a private
dinner in honor of President and Mrs. Bush, at Blair House, hosted by
President and Mrs. Fox.
Q Does that include
members of President Bush's Cabinet also?
OFFICIAL: The Mexicans are inviting to that. There will be
-- I would refer you to the Mexicans for the guest list. It
will be very small. Small, it will be a very small dinner.
Q I think Ari also
told us that Condoleezza Rice will give a readout in the afternoon,
OFFICIAL: Tomorrow afternoon? Ari said that
Q But he didn't say
OFFICIAL: He didn't say what time. It's not in my
schedule because no time has been --
Q But he did
publicly announce that at the briefing.
OFFICIAL: Good. It will be sometime in the
afternoon, after the Cabinet-level --
Q Yes. Yes. I guess after
the group departs.
OFFICIAL: Are you talking about Wednesday afternoon or
Q I'm talking about
OFFICIAL: That's right. That's correct, Wednesday
Q And doesn't Fox
leave Friday morning for Miami?
OFFICIAL: No, President Fox has a program in Washington all
Friday morning, and according to the information I have, he leaves for
Miami after lunch. Because he has a speech, as I understand
it, at the Institute for International Education.
Q And he has an OAS
OFFICIAL: He has a variety of events on Friday morning.
Q The Institute
OFFICIAL: International Economics, IIE. That's at
Q -- at Brookings
is Inter-American Dialogue?
OFFICIAL: Inter-American Dialogue is also sponsoring, I
understand. And maybe some other organizations, I'm not
Q Can you -- also,
why is this visit important?
OFFICIAL: The question is, why is this visit
important. I'm glad you asked that question.
This visit is important because it is the
first State Visit of the Bush administration, and it underlines and
calls attention to the importance of Mexico and the Western Hemisphere
in President Bush's agenda.
President Bush has made this point over
and over: the neighborhood is important; good bilateral
relations begin with neighbors and the neighborhood. And
that is why this attention is being given to Mexico, which has such an
important relationship with the United States in so many
areas: trade, investment, people, culture, family, shared
values, shared border; common challenges, in terms of environment and
managing the border. All of these go into the bilateral relationship,
which is strong.
As a point of comparison, look at
U.S.-Mexico relations, say, how they were handled, how they were seen
in the media a year, year-and-a-half ago: a lot of finger-pointing, a
lot of rancor. With new leadership in the United States and
Mexico, we have new attitudes on how to forge our bilateral
They begin with the recognition of the
fact that we are neighbors and, as neighbors, we have to pay close
attention to each other. The relationship covers the gamut
of areas that I have outlined. But, of course, there are
several that receive the most attention. And I'll be happy
to go into those areas with you.
But before I do that, let me point out
that on Wednesday, the two Cabinets, important parts of the two
Cabinets, will meet. The two Presidents will preside over
this joint Cabinet meeting. And the binational groups, which
have been divided into seven, will cover the following themes in their
meeting -- there's a fact sheet on the table on
it: migration, law enforcement and counternarcotics, border
affairs, trade and economics, energy, global and social issues, and
This thematic grouping of the issues flows
from the decision of the two Presidents in Guanajuato, Mexico, in
February, to streamline and to upgrade the binational commission
approach to our relationship. There are 16 working groups
that function throughout the year. They have been rearranged
into seven new, thematically linked binational groups. These
are jointly chaired, or co-chaired, by one Mexican Cabinet member and
one American Cabinet member. And this approach is aimed at
strengthening the accountability, the effectiveness and the
problem-solving orientation of this process.
Q Who will -- the
OFFICIAL: At the Cabinet meeting there will be seven reports
given to the two Presidents by -- one by each group. The
migration group, on the American side, is chaired by the Secretary of
State and the Attorney General. On the Mexican side, it's
chaired by the Foreign Minister and their Attorney
General. And Secretary Powell will report on migration.
He will be followed by a report on border
affairs, to be provided by Foreign Secretary Castaneda, of
Mexico. After that, there will be a report on law
enforcement and counternarcotics matters by Mexico's Attorney General,
Macedo de la Concha.
Q And the American
OFFICIAL: The American counterpart is the Attorney General.
Q And then he will
OFFICIAL: Only one will speak for each cluster. Seven
presentations. Either the Mexican or the American will give
the presentation to the two Presidents.
The fourth presentation will be on trade
and economics. That's USTR, Ambassador Zoellick and the
Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman, will do the report for the
United States. Their counterparts are three Mexican
ministers: the Minister of Economy, the Minister of
Agriculture and the Minister of Finance.
Following that one, the Secretary of
Energy, Spence Abraham, will give a report on the energy
agenda. That will be followed by the Commission on Bilateral
Cooperation, which will be a Mexican presentation, their Commissioner
for Social Development and their Commissioner of Environment will make
the presentation. And their counterparts are our Secretary
of Education and our Administrator for the Environmental Protection
Q Names of the
OFFICIAL: The names of the Mexicans I will have to provide
to you. I'm sorry, I don't have the names.
Q You can look for
them on the CIA page on the Internet. (Laughter.) They're
OFFICIAL: I will provide the names of the Mexicans.
Finally, there will be a presentation on
foreign policy, and that will be headed by Secretary of State Powell.
Q So the Secretary
of State is actually giving two presentations?
OFFICIAL: There are seven presentations, the U.S. is going
to give four, the Mexicans are going to give three. And
that's only because we're the host. If it were the other way
around, it would be -- if it were in Mexico, it would be the other way
So look for information and announcements
on each of these, on what the Cabinet Ministers will be saying.
Q Where do you
think there will be the most progress? I know that the first
few meetings were sort of seen as get-to-know-you types of
meetings. And there was a lot of emphasis on the
relationship and there was at least some expectation that this one
would yield a little more ground. First of all, on migration
it looks like that might have been scaled back.
When do you think we'll really see
progress in some of the close relationship between the two countries
sort of start to bear fruit?
OFFICIAL: I think you can point to genuine progress in each
area. The thing to remember is that this is a process. This
is a process that has received a lot of attention by both governments,
as a result of the leadership of both Presidents.
And there are meetings and working
sessions that go on all the time, that don't make the news, but do
bring us progress. I think that some of the more important
areas will be in border safety. I certainly think that you
have something very solid to say on migration. On the trade
and economic side and, of course, law enforcement and
Q And about the
migration, I know that we were expecting some principles to be released
by the White House. Will it be done in this type of forum,
or will it be something released by President Bush?
OFFICIAL: Look to the events on Thursday. There are two
events on Thursday where all of this will be covered. One is
the departure statement of the two Presidents, prior to going to
Toledo. And the second is the joint communique that will be released
that day. It will sum up where both countries are.
Q You didn't
mention in the schedule rundown where a joint communique was going to
be issued. Is that --
OFFICIAL: It will be issued on Thursday, at the end of the
Q You mean at the
end of the day, or when they leave to go to --
OFFICIAL: It will be ready at the time that they are making
their departure statement.
Q After they leave
here, the communique will be made public?
OFFICIAL: Before they leave for Toledo, Ohio.
Q And once these --
I guess after these agreements and everything are announced, and these
different working groups, will there be anything that has to be done,
any type of follow-up with Congress or anything like
that? Like, what do we --
OFFICIAL: I think the President has put it best when he said
to the Texas folks last week that we have going on simultaneously three
types of discussions, encounters. One is within our own
government. The second is with the Mexicans. And
the third is with the Congress of the United States.
So what we have in the State Visit is a
taking stock of how far we have come, what the principles are, what the
areas of concern are and where we go from here. And there is
a tremendous amount of commitment and energy being dedicated to this
particular issue and it will, indeed, continue. And, again, I will
refer you to the departure statement and the joint communique.
Q Could you give us
just a -- you know, the complete idiot's guide to this? What
is going on with the Mexican economy these days and where is it in some
OFFICIAL: The Mexican economy is very much connected to the
American economy. If we are having some problems, so are our
Mexican friends. There is a background paper on the economy
there, that I would refer you to.
But the Mexican economy, during the Fox
administration, has seen an inflow of investment that is really rather
impressive. The figure that sticks in my mind is close to
$15 billion a year of foreign investment in Mexico, up from $10 billion
Their growth rate this year is down from
their growth rate last year. That is due to their very close ties to
the economy of the United States. And the two key challenges for the
government in its legislative agenda are financial reform, which
President Fox is attempting to introduce; and reform in the energy
area, which is an area of some sensitivity in Mexico.
But the Mexican economy has been
robust. NAFTA is a reality. Total trade between
the U.S. and Mexico in the year 2000 was upwards of a quarter of a
trillion dollars, it was $261 billion. That's three times
what it was in the 1993, pre-NAFTA average.
Q Give me that
amount again, total trade in 2000 was what?
OFFICIAL: Total trade between the U.S. and Mexico was $261
billion in 2000, and that's three times the level of 1993. So that
gives you an idea of what it was before NAFTA and what it is now.
U.S. foreign direct investment in Mexico
in the year 2000 was $8.9 billion. That was in the year
2000. The other figure includes other countries' investment
in Mexico. It's expected to be significantly higher in the
year 2001. Both countries, of course, have had sharp
downturns in economic growth this year.
Despite this, the trade between us remains
very, very strong. Over the first half of this year it's
upwards of $100 billion.
One more thing, U.S. exports to -- the
United States exports more to Mexico than it does to the United
Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy combined. Mexico is our
second largest trading partner. Canada is our first.
Q The U.K., Italy?
OFFICIAL: U.K., Italy, Germany and France, combined.
Q Since we're
getting at the end, I just want to ask you a quick
question. Is the United States at all worried about the fact
that Fox seems to be losing popularity at home, because of the economic
situation and all other factors? I mean, is that anything
that the U.S. sees as a source of concern, as the two countries try to
come to different agreements?
OFFICIAL: As I recall, President Fox's popularity is around,
somewhere in the 60s or the high --
OFFICIAL: Sixties. And by anybody's political
measure, that's pretty good.
Q I guess there had
been some indications that he's had trouble working within his party
because they don't trust him as much -- that some of his glamour and
lustre has worn off since he was first elected; and maybe some people
feel that he's not delivering as much as he had hoped from the
economy. But you aren't worried about --
OFFICIAL: I would refer you to President Fox's State of the
Union speech, which he gave over the weekend, which was very solid,
very realistic, attuned to the realities of Mexico.
Q I want to ask you
about the trucking, because that's been a major issue, the trucking
issue. A lot of people thought the issue might be resolved
if it were -- but we knew the political reality. What can
Mr. Fox take from this visit concerning that thorny issue?
OFFICIAL: President Fox will hear from the President of the
United States directly his very strong, the President's very strong
views about trucking, which the President has made on several
occasions. The President is of the view that the United
States must comply with its NAFTA obligations, and will comply with its
Q The two previous
visits, they met -- and President Bush said that he was counting on Fox
to help him with -- deal with some -- in Latin America. And
he mentioned specifically Colombia and Cabos. Is there
anything that can be said about that, how do you go -- actually do any
OFFICIAL: This is the fifth meeting, one-on-one, between the
two Presidents since President Bush was inaugurated on January
20th. And when they do meet, they review the situation in
We have seen Mexican -- a new Mexican
foreign policy with regard to the hemisphere that puts front and center
the promotion of democracy and the promotion of
modernization. And the Mexican role in South America has
been positive. The Mexican -- Mexican diplomacy is aimed at
supporting the Pastrana government in its effort to further the peace
process in Colombia, and to improve relationships among the Andean
countries. We see that as a positive.
We also see as a positive President Fox's
Puebla to Panama initiative to help develop, socially and economically,
But improving relationships among the
Andean countries is something that President Fox and Mexican diplomacy
have dedicated some time and attention to. And that is