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U.S. Department of State
96/05/06 Remarks at US-Mexico Binational Commission Opening Session
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESMAN
(Mexico City, Mexico)
For Immediate Release May 6, 1996
Text As Prepared For Delivery
REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
US-MEXICO BINATIONAL COMMISSION
OPENING PLENARY SESSION.
Let me thank Secretary Gurria and all our hosts for arranging this 13th
meeting of the Binational Commission, our largest and broadest ever. I
am pleased to be joined by a record number of Cabinet colleagues --
Attorney General Janet Reno, Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt,
Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, Secretary of
Transportation Federico Pena, Secretary of Education Richard Riley, EPA
Administrator Carol Browner and Office of National Drug Control Policy
Director Barry McCaffrey. We are also fortunate to have present
Counselor to the President Mack McLarty and many other senior
In the three years since I attended my first Binational Commission, the
United States and Mexico have forged the closest partnership in our
history -- a partnership based on mutual respect and shared vital
interests in prosperity, stability and the rule of law. We have turned
this Commission into an effective mechanism for positive cooperation.
Through our work here, we are solving common problems and moving forward
to seize the new opportunities that our common destiny presents.
Together we are building a sound basis for economic growth and
integration through NAFTA. Together we are protecting our workers and
the environment through path-breaking agreements. And together we
responded to a financial crisis that threatened the prosperity of both
our countries -- and of emerging markets around the world.
One year ago, President Clinton stood with Mexico because he saw that
decisive action was necessary to support the financial stability of our
close neighbor -- and that of emerging markets throughout our
hemisphere. It was not the easy thing to do, but it was the right thing
to do -- and it is working.
The tough and decisive measures taken by President Zedillo have earned
the confidence of the world and put the Mexican economy back on the road
to long-term growth. Interest rates and inflation are down. Reserves
are up. Mexico is paying off its loans on time and has decisively re-
established its international credit-worthiness. All the evidence
suggests that the courage of the Mexican people in the face of hardship
will be rewarded. Mexico's economy is expanding again. Our trade has
risen in both directions across the border, and we will work to resolve
outstanding trade issues so that our commerce can continue to grow.
Bold political reforms are making Mexico a more open society -- and
creating stronger, more vibrant democratic institutions. The United
States strongly supports the steps Mexico is taking to encourage party
competition, to decentralize government, to strengthen the rule of law
and to fight corruption.
The Binational Commission reflects the breadth of our shared agenda, and
it is producing concrete benefits for millions of our citizens every
day. This year we are adding two new working groups -- one on health
and one on energy -- to make the Commission an even more comprehensive
forum for advancing our shared interests. Let me highlight some of our
priorities for this meeting.
Presidents Clinton and Zedillo are determined to fight the common
scourge of illegal drugs at every step -- production, trafficking and
use. Through our High Level Contact Group on Drug Control, we are
increasing information-sharing and developing initiatives to control
chemical precursors and to shut down drug producers. We are also making
major progress toward ensuring that major traffickers and other
criminals cannot evade justice in one country by fleeing to the other.
General McCaffrey's leadership will be vital as we enhance our
cooperation with Mexico to wage this battle.
Last week in Coral Gables, Florida, President Clinton reaffirmed that
only by strengthening the capabilities of every nation to fight drugs
and crime can we succeed in protecting our own citizens. Our
cooperation with Mexico is an important part of our comprehensive
strategy. We are also strengthening law enforcement to deal with
traffickers at home -- and we made important arrests just last week. At
the same time, we are determined to meet our responsibility to reduce
demand. The United States and Mexico are working well together on the
global problem of money laundering. We are making important progress on
stopping criminal transactions, especially by drug traffickers.
Mexico's recent action to make money laundering a crime was especially
We also continue to work together on the difficult issues of migration.
The United States is strengthened by the important cultural, social and
economic contributions that Mexican-Americans make to our nation. We
welcome legal migration and reject measures that discriminate against
legal immigrants. But we also have a responsibility to our citizens of
every heritage to enforce our laws and protect our borders. Together we
are reducing tension on both sides of the border. We have launched a
pilot program for voluntary repatriation to Mexico's interior of those
who repeatedly try to enter the United States. We have made important
progress toward an agreement that will assure full consular protection
for our nationals in both countries.
The recent tragedies near the border make clear the threat that alien
smugglers pose to all sides. They also dramatize the human costs of
illegal migration. Efforts to control migration in both countries must
be conducted with full respect for the rule of law and the human rights
of every individual.
The United States Government is investigating the recent incidents on
our side of the border. Training for federal and state law enforcement
officials has been increased. We have instituted a program for Mexican
human rights officials to visit our border facilities and become more
familiar with our procedures. We remain committed to enforcing U.S.
laws and preventing abuses of rights, whether by alien smugglers or
Today, cooperation along our 2,000-mile border is deep and growing. The
fourteen cities paired under the Border Liaison Mechanism are taking
responsibility for local problems, from undocumented minors to the
return of stolen cars. The International Boundary and Water Commission
is also helping to resolve local issues along the border.
Over the past three years, we have developed new mechanisms for
protecting the environment at the border. Under the Border XXI
initiative, citizens from both countries will join local officials in
planning common strategies to prevent and clean up pollution. We are
establishing a Joint Advisory Committee to improve the air quality of
the El Paso/Ciudad Juarez area. I have made the environment a high
priority for U.S. diplomacy, and it is a high priority in our relations
Beyond these bilateral issues, we have also opened new opportunities for
cooperation in our hemisphere and around the world. For example, Mexico
has been a leading force for peace and democracy in Guatemala. The
accords signed in Mexico City today are an important milestone on the
path to a comprehensive peace agreement and national reconciliation.
The United States and Mexico will continue to work together for justice
and peace in Guatemala.
From defending democracy to building bridges across our borders, the
United States and Mexico have drawn closer than ever before in ways that
benefit our citizens and our hemisphere every day. Through our
cooperation here, we are constructing the future in a new spirit. It is
a future in which two open, stable democracies provide their people with
good jobs and clean air; where people walk the streets in safety and
cross borders with dignity; in which our two societies appreciate and
take strength from each other's diversity. We have a responsibility to
our Presidents and our peoples to build that future in the work we do
I am confident that our meetings today and tomorrow will be productive,
and I look forward to hearing the results.
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