Thank you very much and good afternoon everyone. I am very pleased to be back in Mexico and especially delighted to have this opportunity to meet you at the Benjamin Franklin Library as we continue to celebrate its 70th anniversary year.
The Benjamin Franklin Library stands as an enduring symbol of U.S.-Mexican friendship, while remaining the primary source of information about the United States in Mexico City, through books, innovative electronic resources, and a wide array of person-to-person programs.
My visit to Mexico is another important opportunity to reiterate the close partnership and cooperation between the United States and Mexico on a broad range of issues. I emphasize the term partnership because our two countries, working together as regional and global leaders, have a strong record of accomplishment that we will continue to build upon, based on mutual respect and shared interests.
Today I had the chance to meet Foreign Secretary Espinosa to discuss our continued commitment to partnering with Mexico to advance common goals, and meet common challenges. This includes cooperation on transnational issues and working together in multilateral fora – such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and through the Summit of the Americas. It also includes sharing experiences on social inclusion, and ensuring equitable employment and education opportunities for all members of both our societies. We look forward to approval in the U.S. Congress of the Transboundary Hydrocarbons agreement. Once in effect, this agreement will provide the clear regulatory framework that will enable companies to develop hydrocarbon reserves near our maritime boundary beneath the Gulf of Mexico.
Education, in particular, is critical to mutual understanding and to confronting our shared challenges. And that’s why I am here today for the ribbon-cutting of the new “100,000 Strong in the Americas Advising Center.” President Obama launched “100,000 Strong in the Americas” to increase the number of Latin American and Caribbean students studying in the United States, and the number of students from the United States studying throughout the region. This enhanced Center offers all the resources Mexican students need to learn about and prepare to study in the United States. In addition, we are cooperating with the Government of Mexico and public and private education institutions on student advising, student placement, financial assistance, and timely access to visa services. We are ready, in fact, we are eager to welcome more Mexican students to the United States.
The participation of Secretary of Public Education Cordova underlines our joint commitment to this goal. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. We also look forward to reaffirming our commitment to bilateral education cooperation through a new Memorandum of Understanding on education to be signed in the very near future.
The presence today of so many young alumni of our educational programs of the United States is a vivid illustration of what all of us have to gain through such opportunities. It’s great to have all of you here today, and I look forward to talking to you a little bit later about your experiences.
I’d like to add a final comment for the members of the media who are here today, and to conclude by commending the courageous work of journalists in Mexico. Free and open communication is a cornerstone of democracy, and your role is vital. The United States is deeply concerned about acts of violence and intimidation intended to suppress the free flow of information. We stand with journalists who risk their lives to inform the public.
And now it’s my great pleasure to ask Secretary Cordova to come to the podium. Thank you very much.