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12/3/02 - U.S.-MEXICO BINATIONAL COMMISSION - 2002-12-05

"The United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico," said President George W. Bush. Mr. Bush spoke by videotape at a meeting of the U.S.- Mexico Binational Commission in Mexico City. Speaking in both English and Spanish, he called Mexico "more than a neighbor. We are also good friends."

The U.S.- Mexico Binational Commission was established in 1981 as a forum for regular exchanges between U.S. and Mexican leaders and government officials. This year, the U.S. and Mexico concluded an agreement to provide funds to protect and improve travel and trade across the two-thousand mile U.S.- Mexico border. President Bush said the U.S. will use "advanced technology to ensure that our borders are open to all honest trade and travel -- but closed to criminals, to drug traffickers, and to terrorists."

Mr. Bush called Mexico "a valued ally in the war against terror." Mexico has stepped up security at the border and has joined international efforts to combat terrorist groups. "President [Vicente] Fox and I worked closely in the [United Nations] Security Council," said President Bush, "to hold Saddam Hussein to his promises of disarmament. . .to uphold the authority of the United Nations. . .and most importantly to keep the peace." President Fox, Mr. Bush said, "understands that the terrorists hate our freedom and threaten our way of life -- and they must be defeated."

The new funds for the border agreement will help the U.S. and Mexico build on the success of the North American Free Trade Agreement. As President Bush said, "for almost nine years, NAFTA has helped to create hundreds of thousands of higher-paying jobs, and helped lift millions of lives, on both sides of the border."

Mexican immigrants to the U.S., said Mr. Bush, "enrich our culture, strengthen our economy, and share the deepest values of my nation -- hard work, strong faith, and love for their families." He said the U.S. will work with Mexico "on creative new policies, so that immigration is legal, orderly, and safe."

As President Bush said, U.S.- Mexico relations are strong because they rest on "shared commitments to democracy, faith, and freedom."