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Mexico's president, Bush discuss border, energy

May 04, 2001|By JESSICA ROCHA, Special to this newspaper

WASHINGTON — President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox met briefly at the White House on Thursday for the fourth time since both men took office five months ago to discuss immigration, energy and Southwest border enforcement.

In what a senior Bush administration official said was a "warm … very friendly, absolutely open" meeting that "mirrors the tenor of the previous meetings of the two presidents," Bush and Fox, along with members of their administrations — including U.S. Trade Rep. Robert B. Zoellick and Vice President Dick Cheney — met for more than 30 minutes at the White House before attending the 95th annual American Jewish Committee dinner, where both men spoke.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer also addressed the audience at the dinner, which was in the National Building Museum.

At the White House meeting, Bush, Fox and the other officials discussed the extension of a section of the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act that expired at midnight Monday. Bush urged Congress this week to extend the provision, which allows family members who have overstayed their visas in the United States to apply for naturalization without leaving the country by paying a $1,000 fine. Fox said they also discussed possible longer-term plans for documenting immigrant and migrant workers so Mexicans can work legally in the country.

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"We are not shooting for nationalizing (Mexicans) or making them American," Fox said, adding he wanted to make such people's work status legal so they could travel freely between the two countries and receive the rights and advantages of other U.S. workers.

California's energy problems were discussed as a part of a larger discussion of energy markets in Mexico and the United States. Stressing there is "no energy timetable," the senior Bush administration official said, "It is very clear that each country is working very hard on its approach" to an energy policy.

Fox said they also discussed creating an energy policy for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which all three countries are studying. "We are waiting to see Vice President Cheney's analysis" Fox said, referring to the national energy policy development group created after the Summit of the Americas in April and led by Cheney. All three countries need "to have the energy to keep our economies moving," Fox said.

Bush invited Fox to his administration's first state dinner at the White House the first week of September.

"It would be an honor for us to be here then," Fox said.

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