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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
and Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Rosario Green Macias
Remarks at Opening Plenary and Signing Ceremony, U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission
Washington, DC, June 10, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State, June 11, 1998

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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Ministers, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is a real pleasure to welcome you to the 1998 edition of the US-Mexico Binational Commission. This is the first one that I have hosted as Secretary of State, and it is Foreign Secretary Green's first as head of the Mexican delegation. Let me say how very pleased I am to have her here beside me. We have been good friends, and now we have a lot of good business to do together; so welcome, to you.

Let me introduce the US delegation and then invite the Foreign Secretary to make her opening remarks. I will begin over here. The Honorable Janet Reno, Attorney General; the Honorable Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of Interior; the Honorable Dan Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture; the Honorable Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services; the Honorable Rodney Slater, Secretary of Transportation; the Honorable Federico Pena, Secretary of Energy; the Honorable Carol Browner, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; the Honorable Barry McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy; the Honorable Thomas F. MacLarty, Special Envoy for the Americas; the Honorable J. Brian Atwood, Administrator of USAID; the Honorable Joseph Duffey, Director of the United States Information Agency; the Honorable Jeffrey Davidow, Assistant Secretary of State; and the Honorable Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Counselor; the Honorable Mary Ryan, Assistant Secretary of State; the Honorable James Johnson, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury; the Honorable John Huenemann, Assistant United States Trade Representative; the Honorable Saul Ramirez, Acting Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; the Honorable Melinda Kimble, Acting Assistant Secretary of State; the Honorable Doris Meissner, Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; the Honorable Timothy Hauser, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce; Irasema Garza, Secretary of the National Administration Office of the Department of Labor; Lenore Garcia, Director of International and Territorial Services, Department of Education.

And if I now can turn the floor over to Secretary Green.

FOREIGN SECRETARY GREEN: (Through interpreter.) Thank you very much. It is truly a pleasure for me to be here, accompanied by a very important delegation from my country, since this is my first Binational Commission meeting as Foreign Secretary of Mexico and head of delegation. So it is with enormous pleasure that I have the honor of introducing to you the members of the Mexican delegation.

Ambassador Jesus Reyes Heroles, Ambassador of Mexico and the United States; Esteban Moctezuma Barragon, Secretary for Social Development; Julia Carabias, Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources and Fisheries; Luis Tellez Kuenzler, Energy Secretary; Romarico Arroyo Marroquin, Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Agricultural Development; Carlos Sacristan, Secretary of Communications and Transportation; Juan Ramon de la Fuente, Secretary of Health; Jorge Madrazo, Attorney General; Carlos Bazdresch Parada, Director General of the National Council for Science and Technology; Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, President of the National Council for Culture and the Arts; Juan Rebolledo Gout, Under Secretary for North America and Europe; Fernando Solis Camara, Under Secretary for Population and Migration Services; Martin Werner, Under Secretary for Finance and Public Credit; Carlos Mancera Corcuera, Under Secretary for Planning and Coordination of the Public Education Secretariat; Hector Flores Santana, Under Secretary for Tourism and Development; Alejandro Carrillo Castro, Commissioner of the Migration Service; Eduardo Solis Sanchez, Coordinator General for Trade Negotiations; Alvaro Castro Estrada, General Director for Legal Matters in the Secretariat of Transportation. And that is the delegation, ma'am.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, and let me, again, welcome all of you. After holding these sessions for 17 years, and building year-round cooperation in so many areas, our governments know each other -- and the issues we must confront -- pretty well.

Our challenge is in harnessing the immense and varied talents of those in this room and of those we represent to improve the quality of life on both sides of our long border. To succeed, we must be practical and focus on results. We must be true partners, and take into account each other's concerns. And we must build a firm foundation of mutual confidence.

Because our relationship is so broad, and the interests we share are so important to both countries, we must sometimes cope with incidents that cause differences to arise between us. In the past, such incidents as the money laundering investigation called Operation Casablanca might have escalated and impeded cooperation on many fronts.

Instead, our two Presidents met in New York on Monday and made clear our mutual commitment to combating drug-related crimes in a way that is vigorous, effective and in accordance with the laws in each country. To that end, they agreed that Attorneys General Reno and Madrazo will begin talks soon on better law enforcement coordination.

By acting decisively, our Presidents reinforced the message that the US-Mexican relationship has matured and grown based on shared values and mutual interests. We are joint inheritors of this continent's legacy of freedom, and common custodians of its democratic heritage. We are allies against the forces of crime, drugs and corruption that menace our children and threaten our future. And we are partners, in this hemisphere and around the world, in strengthening and integrating the international system based on respect for the rule of law and the rights of individuals.

This afternoon, we will advance our shared interests by signing five of the numerous agreements developed in the different working groups. Foreign Secretary Green and I will sign our Border Vision Report, aimed at fulfilling our leaders' charge to transform our border into a model area of bilateral cooperation.

Other Cabinet members will sign agreements on cooperation to ensure food safety; testing of truck drivers for drugs and alcohol; partnership for renewable energy and energy efficiency; and US support for Mexico's intensive effort to reforest land devastated by the recent fires.

That last agreement is worth highlighting because, as Mexico has undergone its trial by fire, our partnership has proven its ability to adapt, overcoming the biggest obstacles that culture, language, bureaucracy and nature could present. We shared infrared imagery, matched helicopter flights, and sent firefighters to face the same risks. I salute Mexico's progress in bringing the fires under control; and I am proud that the United States has been able to play a small supporting role.

Today we will discuss other important issues as well. This week at the UN Special Summit on Drugs, our leaders agreed that, as President Clinton put it, drugs are every nation's problem, and every nation must act to fight them. To do our part, the United States and Mexico have developed a common strategy for fighting drug trafficking. We have now cleared the way to develop shared measures of performance, helping to replace the trading of accusations with the sharing of information.

We will also discuss migration issues. And if I may add a personal note, I have seen reports on the many Mexicans who lose their lives each year, attempting to cross our border. This is a tragedy we cannot accept and must explore every opportunity to minimize.

And we will discuss the international effort to respond effectively and soon to the threat posed by global climate change.

In all these areas, I look forward to working with Foreign Secretary Green, and with each of you, as partners and neighbors, to agree on strategies and projects that reflect the hopes and better the lives of all our citizens.

Foreign Secretary, did you wish to make some additional remarks?

FOREIGN SECRETARY GREEN: (Through interpreter.) Thank you very much, Mrs. Albright. Honorable Mrs. Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State of the United States of America, distinguished members of the delegations of Mexico and the United States of America, ladies and gentlemen.

Today we begin the 15th meeting of the mechanism for bilateral dialogue and consultation - the broadest existing between our two countries. This is a good time to establish more clearly the challenges and priorities of our bilateral relationship. It is also a special opportunity to stress the progress and agreements of our complex bilateral links.

History is our best point of reference. When the delegations of these Administrations met for the first time in 1995, they agreed to persevere in building relations guided by mutual confidence, mutual respect and intensive and permanent cooperation between both countries.

On that occasion, the representatives of our governments appropriately conceived of an intelligent framework of understanding to deal with the sensitive subjects in our broad array of political, economic, social and cultural relations.

Since then, our ties have undergone significant progress. We have also dealt with difficult crises at different times, which we have fortunately been able to overcome based on the clear political will of our executive branches.

If there is no communication, cooperation, trust, respect and goodwill, our relationship runs the risk of taking the wrong course. It is only through dialogue that we can avoid the appearance of situations that can hamper understanding.

Promoting constructive work is the commitment that both delegations meeting here today must devote themselves to. As partners and friends, we must build our relationship every day on the basis of what we do well, and recognize when we don't do things well and have the wisdom to be able to move them forward with a vision of the future.

Let us not be mistaken in where we are going. We have a clear mandate from our Presidents to strengthen dialogue and cooperation based on trust, communication and mutual respect for our sovereignty, territorial integrity and, of course, our respect for legal and institutional frameworks. Let us go along that path.

Allow me to refer briefly to some of the various subjects that make up the agenda of this meeting. My colleagues on the Cabinet, without a doubt, will go into greater detail on these and other matters.

A year ago, Presidents Zedillo and Clinton decided to design a global, long-term strategy to make the border area an area of privilege for cooperation. This new vision of the border seeks to promote economic and social development for the over 10 million people who live along that region. By identifying those initiatives which have positively affected the border population, we seek to establish precedents which can be reproduced in other contexts of our bilateral relationship. One of the specific results of this meeting of the Binational Commission should precisely be that of fulfilling the mandate to provide a report to the Presidents on the activities carried out in order to provide content to their initiative of a new vision where our two countries face each other.

The migration of our citizens to the United States continues to be a priority subject on our bilateral agenda. It is, without a doubt, a matter which raises the deepest emotions in Mexican society, and it has become one of the most important indicators as regards the perception of the tone of the relationship between Mexico and the United States. The Mexican Government has always held that the basic tenet of its foreign policy is the defense of the human rights of our migrants. Therefore, we are concerned by any trend which seeks to raise obstacles between two friendly nations which are making efforts to work jointly.

We believe that the implementation of migration laws should not be affected by not respecting human rights or the dignity of people independently of their migratory situation. Both countries are making laudable efforts to make progress in the mutual understanding with regard to how each country sees migration. Through constant and productive dialogue, we also make headway in identifying agreements and specific measures that will guarantee the correct and respectful administration of this phenomenon. Hence, the Joint Declaration on Migration, signed by Presidents Zedillo and Clinton in May 1997.

On this occasion and complying with the political will expressed by our leaders, we will sign agreements to make progress in our dialogue and to further the Binational study on migration between Mexico and the United States. Likewise and so that the implementation of migration laws are carried out, fully respecting the dignity and human rights of our citizens, we will establish an agreement so that the Mexican consular network in the United States works systematically with its counterparts in the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States.

As has always been the case, the Mexican Government will not spare any effort to seek through dialogue and agreement, bilateral formulas which will properly allow us to deal with this delicate matter in a manner consistent with our bilateral and regional realities. Especially, we will always be alert in order to guarantee the dignity and integrity of our citizens; and whenever necessary, we will, through legal recourse, demand any harm that comes to those whose rights are affected.

At the special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on drugs, which is concluding today in New York City, President Ernesto Zedillo stressed that we must, through an unprecedented effort of cooperation founded on a new strategy which is global, comprehensive and balanced, continue everything we can do. These are the same principles that we have sought to apply in our cooperation strategy in that area with the United States.

Over the last few years, we have built a complex infrastructure in order to channel our struggle against drugs, basing ourselves on a common strategy. Through the mandate of our Presidents, we established a high-level contact group which has produced important results. I should also make special mention of the declaration of the alliance and the bilateral strategy.

But perhaps the most relevant achievement was the multiplication and strengthening of the channels of communication in order to increase our capabilities to fight the common enemy. We implemented patterns of cooperation whose viability depends on the political will of both parties and the necessary trust to carry out such a delicate task for the security of our countries, the stability of our institutions and the future of the youth in both our societies.

Presidents Zedillo and Clinton, at their meeting last Monday in New York City, underscored the fact that common efforts against drug trafficking must always be carried out with respect for the sovereignty and laws of each country. Both Presidents reaffirmed their commitment to continue working against drug trafficking and connected crimes, and urged their attorneys general so that jointly they will define a common agenda in order to combat organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering.

We take advantage of this occasion in order to again stress the will of our Presidents to fortify mechanisms devoted to promoting efforts against drugs and money laundering, as well as to improve cooperation, communication and the exchange of information between our two governments.

Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the increase of trade of goods and services among the three countries has been noteworthy. Mexico has become the second customer for the United States; and we expect that in the short term, we will become the United States' most important trade partner after Canada. The volume of our trade has doubled, and we can state that today, Mexico is the most dynamic market for the United States.

Furthermore, in the last few months, the flow of direct investment from the United States to Mexico has been an average of $4 billion a year. We should point out that between 1994 and 1997, Mexico was the second most important receiver of direct investment from the United States to developing countries.

But NAFTA has also achieved important additional things. It has led to generating more and better jobs in the three countries, and has introduced certainty in the economic relations of its members. NAFTA works. It works for Mexico; it works for the United States; it works for Canada; it works for North America. Nonetheless, it is a fact that there is an alarming level of the lack of knowledge regarding the pros of this agreement, and there are also critics who systematically have attributed failures to NAFTA which it was never designed to deal with. Hence, the urgency of formulating a trilateral strategy which will lead to a better understanding of the purposes, scope and merits of the NAFTA.

Finally, we will be dealing with subjects having to do with agriculture, fisheries, technological exchange, educational cooperation, transportation and, above all the environment - where the Presidents have instructed their authorities to explore cooperation for elevated, sustained and clean growth.

These are simply some of the many subjects in our very packed agenda which, during this 15th meeting of the US-Mexico Binational Commission, we will be dealing with. I'm sure that we will be able to take advantage of this magnificent opportunity to turn all of these into a balance which will allow us to evaluate the progress achieved in this last year, and to reinforce the basis that foster our cooperation.

Madame Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, the success of our work will reflect the progress and the dialogue and communication of those who have called on us to this work - our Presidents. We hope this occasion will allow us to continue persevering in improving our mechanisms for understanding and promoting mutual trust. To know each other better and to respect each other more must be the goal that today's work will lead us to.

I thank you very much.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, and I think that both your statement and mine indicate the breadth and depth of our relationship. I don't think there are any two countries that are neighbors that have a more complete kind of relationship, and I look forward very much to working with you and your delegation in this new role, Madame Secretary. We have been friends a long time, and it is very good to greet you here as Foreign Secretary.

FOREIGN SECRETARY GREEN: Thank you.

[End of Document]

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