The White House
President George W. Bush
Print this document

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
Room 476
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

1:31 P.M. EDT

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?


     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 salute?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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, too?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  That will be at 11:00 a.m.

     Q    That's following the Oval Office 11:00 a.m.?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 information.

     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 Colin Powell.

     Q    Time for that?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  That will be at 1:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

     The President of Mexico has other events during the rest of the afternoon.

     Q    Not related to the White House, in other words?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 that?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The toast will be at the beginning of the dinner.

     Q    Good for us.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, the toasts are -- yes.

     Q    We thank the President.  (Laughter.)

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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. --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 p.m.?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Twelve-thirty five p.m. is the helicopter departure.

     Q    So you're thinking departure statements possibly?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  There will be departure statements and opportunities for questions, yes.  That's what Ari announced, is that not correct?

     Q    Yes, that's correct.

     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. departure?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 Hispanic Americans.

     Q    Are there remarks by both Presidents?


     Q    Which university is it?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, that is -- no, that is after the arrival.  That would be, I would say roughly at 2:30 p.m. -- roughly.

     Q    Then the Hispanic --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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, tomorrow afternoon?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Tomorrow afternoon?  Ari said that today?

     Q    Yes.


     Q    But he didn't say what time.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Good.  It will be sometime in the afternoon, after the Cabinet-level --

     Q    Yes.  Yes.  I guess after the group departs.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Are you talking about Wednesday afternoon or Thursday afternoon?

     Q    I'm talking about Wednesday afternoon.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  That's right.  That's correct, Wednesday afternoon.

     Q    And doesn't Fox leave Friday morning for Miami?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  He has a variety of events on Friday morning.

     Q    The Institute of?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  International Economics, IIE.  That's at Brookings.

     Q    -- at Brookings is Inter-American Dialogue?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Inter-American Dialogue is also sponsoring, I understand.  And maybe some other organizations, I'm not sure.

     Q    Can you -- also, why is this visit important?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 relationship.

     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 foreign policy.

     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 United States?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 counterpart?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The American counterpart is the Attorney General.

     Q    And then he will speak?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 Agency.

     Q    Names of the Mexicans, please?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 all there.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 around.

     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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 counternarcotics.

     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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It will be issued on Thursday, at the end of the visit.

     Q    You mean at the end of the day, or when they leave to go to --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It will be ready at the time that they are making their departure statement.

     Q    Okay.

     Q    After they leave here, the communique will be made public?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 great continuum?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 last year.

     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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  As I recall, President Fox's popularity is around, somewhere in the 60s or the high --

     Q    Sixties?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 NAFTA obligations.

     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 --

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION 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 the hemisphere.

     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, Central America.

     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 good.

                           END                    2:05 P.M. EDT

Return to this article at:

Print this document