MODERATOR: (via interpreter.) Good afternoon to all of you. We have here with us today State Secretary of the United States, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, and the (inaudible) First Ministry of Mexico, Ambassador Patricia Espinosa. Both will be conveying an initial message right now, and then after that we shall go into the question-answer period.
FOREIGN MINISTER ESPINOSA: (via interpreter.) Good afternoon, friends, and the media. Before anything else, I would like to thank, in a very special fashion, State Secretary Hillary Clinton, for having accepted my invitation to visit Mexico. I welcome the fact that this is a meeting taking place a few weeks after she took office, Department of State of the United States.
Your presence in Mexico has a special importance, since this is the first trip to Latin America, a little before President Barack Obama will also be visiting Mexico. After a very intense agenda of activities in Mexico City today, Secretary Clinton will be traveling tomorrow to the city of Monterrey, where she -- where I will be having the pleasure of being with her. And I would also like to say that, as you know, today Secretary Clinton has made a courtesy visit to President Calderon, where they discussed multiple topics of the bilateral agendas; for instance, migration, trade, competitiveness, border development, and security. It was truly an extremely fruitful conversation; a very interesting conversation they held, and that’s the reason for our being delayed a few minutes. And we would like to thank you for your understanding, and thank you also for being here to be with us in this press conference.
In the dialogue we held this morning with Secretary Clinton, we have coincided on the importance of the topic related to migration, and we’ve also coincided that this is a key issue that unites our two countries. We are going to be working together. We’re going to be working together in the following years so that the migration phenomenon may be a phenomenon that will be benefiting both of our nations.
In highlighting our full respect for the United States legislation and the sovereign process of that country and the legislative process of that country, I told Secretary Clinton the concern of the Mexican Government due to the situation that our co-nationals are facing in the United States. And I also highlighted the importance that we give the legal framework of migration issues so that it will respond to the migration reality and the need to change the climate that Mexicans now live in the United States.
The bilateral agenda between Mexico and the United States is a very broad agenda, and in them, the economic issues have, of course, particular importance, especially today in this context of economic crisis at the international level. We’ve coincided as well in this environment on the need of concentrating our efforts on being able to have our regional competitiveness increase as a means to promote the well being of our respective countries. Here, I also wanted to highlight the will to work together, to work together so that we can accomplish conditions that will allow for the full compliance, commitment that we have taken upon ourselves in NAFTA, as countries of NAFTA, with certainty in each one of the different provisions, including the topic related to motor transportation. The border has been a key aspect, a key issue in our conversations. We’ve also expressed our willingness to invest with determination on border infrastructure in short, medium term, so that we can integrate, and thus be able to turn the border into a pull for competitiveness, to increase competitiveness between our two countries.
We also talked about the importance of cooperation and the maturity we have been able to get in our fight against organized crime, as well as the convenience and the importance of continuing, and in a more profound manner, the implementation of the Merida Initiative. We have said that the high-ranking level group of the Initiative that met for the first time in Washington last year will be holding this year as well another working session, if possible, if the agenda so allows it, with all the participants here in our country. And the different working groups, the coordination groups that are working on security issues, the groups we’ve been able to create greatly reflect the bilateral character of our focus based on the principle of co-responsibility. And later on, in a working session with the attendants in this Foreign Ministry and some members of the cabinet in terms of security issues, we’re going to go into a greater detailed discussion on this.
We also had the opportunity of talking about the world situation and we coincided on the role that our countries are now called to play in the multilateral fora in a particular manner, in the United Nations, and, of course, especially also now during our membership in the Security Council of the United Nations as non-permanent members.
And we also spoke about the participation of Mexico in the relevant fora; for instance, the case of G-20 and the G-8, G-5 dialogue. And in this sense, we also agreed to continue increasing our collaboration and dialogue within the framework of those fora. And Secretary Clinton will continue with a very intense agenda that shows her interests for Mexico, and the very broad gambit of issues that unite our two countries, in terms of education, for instance, culture, social development issues, entrepreneurial and the environment, of course.
This visit is and has been a -- it is, today, although she will still be with us in Mexico for approximately 24 more hours, a little bit over 24 more hours -- but it has already been, this visit, a very successful visit. And let me also say that the Governments of President Calderon and President Obama will coincide in the following four years, and that is why both governments, both administrations are determined to consolidate our relationship as a true, true partnership at the strategic level, a strategic partnership.
I would now like to give the floor to State Secretary Hillary Clinton, who does not require really any type of introduction, because she is one of the most important women of the political life of the United States, and also a very close friend of Mexico. Mrs. Clinton, you have the floor. Muchos Gracias.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Secretary Espinosa. I appreciate that kind introduction, and I’m also grateful for your invitation to visit Mexico for my first stop in Latin America as Secretary of State.
The Secretary and I had a very productive conversation about a broad range of issues. As she has just described, we are looking forward to working together in the months ahead on many of these issues on behalf of our presidents and our countries.
President Calderon has demonstrated great courage and dedication in working to shape the future of our continent and our hemisphere. And I bring greetings from President Obama, who looks forward to coming himself to Mexico in just a few weeks time.
Our two nations know each other very well, and with good reason. This is one of the most important relationships that exists between any two countries in the world. We are part of the same family, we share this continent as our common home, and we will inhabit a common future. That is why the United States and Mexico need a strong and sustained partnership, one based on comprehensive engagement, greater balance, shared responsibility, and joint efforts to address hemispheric and global issues.
We need such a comprehensive agenda in order to make progress on the economy, on energy and climate change, on security, immigration, education, health, and other areas that are of great importance to our two countries and our two peoples. During this trip, we will be discussing many of these topics. And I am pleased to announce several measures that will help strengthen our partnership with Mexico and move us both closer to our shared goals.
First, the global financial crisis has reinforced how closely our economies are linked. If there was any doubt before, there should be none now. We rise and fall together. We know that commerce between our nations is and will be a crucial part of our economic recovery. I want to thank President Calderon, Secretary Espinosa, and the Government of Mexico for the important role that you are playing in helping to shape the G-20 agenda.
In order to facilitate legal trade and travel between our nations, the Administration has set aside $720 million dollars for modernizing border crossings. That money will help encourage commerce and travel by making the gateways between our countries more efficient.
I also want to speak to the issue of security.
Now, our relationship is much bigger than any issue, including this one. Yet the criminals and kingpins spreading violence are trying to corrode the foundations of law, order, friendship, and trust between us and that support our continent. They will fail. With bold leadership from President Calderon, we are working together to provide the people of our nations with the security they deserve. Under the Merida Initiative, a program conceived by Mexico and embraced by the United States, we have now committed hundreds of millions of dollars to training and equipping Mexican law enforcement, and strengthening Mexico’s judicial system and democratic institutions.
Part of being a good partner is being a good listener. The Mexican Government made clear to us its urgent need for additional helicopters to take on the drug traffickers, and we are responding. And I am pleased to announce that the Obama Administration, working closely with Congress, intends to provide more than $80 million in urgently needed funding for Blackhawk helicopters for Mexican law enforcement. These aircraft will help Mexican police respond aggressively and successfully to the threats coming from the cartels.
We are also announcing the creation of a new bilateral implementation office here in Mexico, where Mexican and U.S. officials will work together, side-by-side, to fight the drug traffickers and the violence which they spread. We realize that drug trafficking is a shared problem. I have discussed with the Secretary and with the President what the United States can do to reduce the demand for drugs in our own country, and to stop the flow of illegal guns across our border to Mexico. And I reported to them on the major steps that our government announced yesterday.
Coming to Mexico soon will be Secretary Napolitano and Attorney General Holder to discuss in greater detail what we will do to reduce gun smuggling from the United States to Mexico, and other measures including equipment and surveillance that will help address violence on both sides of the border.
We are confident that with the courageous efforts undertaken by President Calderon, the Government of Mexico, the military and police of Mexico, and the people of Mexico that the efforts undertaken to strengthen this country’s response, to stamp out corruption, to build strong intuitions, will succeed. And we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you as you undertake all of these actions.
Even as we focus on these urgent challenges, let us not forget that our relationship is far greater than any threat, and that our people share an unshakable bond. Mexico has supported the United States at many critical moments in our own history. I will never forget, and I want to thank the Government of Mexico and the people of Mexico, for the help you gave us after Katrina. The Mexican army was there to help provide food and support to people who had been evacuated from that terrible natural disaster.
I thank you for the help that you give on a regular basis, with wildfires in California or tornado damage or flooding in Texas. We have an ongoing, absolutely important, unbreakable bond, and that’s what I want to reiterate today.
This is a significant moment in the history of our continent. Yes, we do face many serious challenges, and we can’t just talk about them; we must act to meet them. But this is a moment of great opportunity. Tomorrow, I will be visiting a state-of-the-art clean energy plant in Monterrey, a plant that, frankly, is more advanced than most, if not all, of the plants we have in the United States. I will be witnessing the signing of agreements between the University of Texas and Universities here in Mexico to further and deepen our energy partnership. I will be meeting with indigenous students who are part of exchange programs here in Mexico, with families and institutions in the United States. So let us build on this cooperation, on comprehensive engagement, balance, and, yes, shared responsibility for a new century of cooperation and progress together that will unleash the boundless potential of the people of Mexico and the United States.
Thank you so much, Madame Secretary.
MODERATOR: (In Spanish.)
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I’m going to ask several questions made by the press here, so I would just ask you to bear with me. First of all would be President Obama said yesterday that if the plan to secure the border fails, the U.S. is ready to take further steps. What are these further steps? Does that include a militarization of the border, or even a U.S. military presence in Mexico? That would be the first.
The second would be will the U.S. take any steps to prohibit the sales of automatic weapons to other countries, and is the Obama Administration ready to tackle the second amendment in the U.S.?
And finally, the third question would be about the helicopters. The Mexican Government has actually bought helicopters in France because of the delays faced with the Foreign Military Sales Program. Could you elaborate on that?
And finally – (laughter). Sorry, a lot of questions. The Department of Defense announced that it’s going to help the Mexican Department of Defense with $13 U.S. million dollars to liberate areas controlled by drug trafficking corporations here in Mexico. Do you believe that parts of Mexico are under control of the drug trafficking organizations? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you very much. We have made a commitment to assist the Government of Mexico in its struggle against the drug traffickers, and we have accepted that this is a co-responsibility. We know very well that the drug traffickers are motivated by the demand for illegal drugs in the United States, that they are armed by the transport of weapons from the United States to Mexico; and therefore, we see this as a responsibility to assist the Mexican Government and the Mexican people in defeating an enemy that is committing violence and disruption that is very harmful and which is something that all people of conscience should attempt to defeat.
What the President said is a shorthand for our commitment. We have not made any decisions, as was announced yesterday on National Guard along the border. We are working to provide more support for the Mexican military, the Mexican police, as well as other governmental institutions, and we will be guided by what the Mexican Government believes is working, what is appropriate, and how best we can proceed to support Mexico.
We believe that we have announced a plan to use every tool at our current disposal through administrative actions to track illegal guns, to arrest and punish those who are trafficking in illegal guns, to share more information with the Mexican Government so that they can also track and seize these guns. Obviously, I am someone who supported the assault weapons ban which was passed in 1994, but it was passed with an expiration date and it expired ten years later. I, as a senator, supported measures to try to reinstate it. Politically, that is a very big hurdle in our Congress. But there may be some approaches that could be acceptable, and we are exploring those.
Certainly, the export of assault weapons and illegal weapons is something that has grave consequences for Mexico. And we’re going to look at whatever is possible that we can do ourselves within the Administration, and we will explore with Congress other steps to take.
With respect to the helicopters, I am well aware that our long process of approval was cumbersome and challenging for the Mexican Government. We’re going to see what we can do to cut that time. We want to provide these helicopters to the Mexican Government. We think they are a necessary and important tool in the fight against the drug cartels and criminals. It’s also suggested to us we ought to look at this more generally, that it takes too long from a decision to delivery, and we’ll see what we can do to shorten that.
I believe that the fight against these drug cartels is something that the Mexican Government is making great progress in expanding and demonstrating the strength of the response, and I don’t believe that there are any ungovernable territories in Mexico. But I remember very well when we had such a crime wave 15, 20 years ago. There were many parts of cities in our country that people didn’t feel safe going to, that they didn’t feel safe leaving their homes. People felt imprisoned because of the criminals on the streets of America. So we know what it is to be intimidated by criminals. And we fought very hard to lower our crime rate, to disarm our criminals, to improve our policing, improve our judicial responses. And we see it as a similar struggle to what Mexico is now engaged in. So are there neighborhoods in Mexico where people are afraid to walk, as there were and are still even in my own country? Of course. But that’s why it’s important that we join together to defeat the violence and the criminal gangs so that people here in Mexico can feel safe in their own homes, their own neighborhoods, their businesses. And that’s what President Calderon and the government is attempting to achieve.
MR. WOOD: Next question is from Mary Beth Sheridan from The Washington Post.
QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Espinosa, I was wondering if you could comment on – does Mexico – how does Mexico feel about the steps that the U.S. has announced? Does this meet your expectations or not? And a second question. You have rejected the idea of Mexico as a failed state. Are there any parts of Mexico where you would not feel comfortable taking Secretary Clinton? Thank you.
FOREIGN SECRETARY ESPINOSA: Well, first of all, I would like to stress that we are engaged in this really broad cooperation and the Merida Initiative has really meant a qualitative change in our cooperation in terms of the fight against drug trafficking and in general against organized crime. So – and we are very conscious that this is a process where each of us – and this is how the Merida Initiative was conceived – involves actions that each of us has to take on its own territory and many measures that we can take through cooperation that we can – the objective is really to strengthen the capacity, the capabilities of the Mexican state to face this common threat.
So in that sense, we recognize. And I have stated yesterday also in some press conferences that I had, the actions that were announced yesterday go very much along the line of the kind of cooperation that we have been trying to build upon. We have raised the issue of trafficking in arms from the north into Mexico many times. We have raised also the issue of bulk cash coming into Mexico and going into the hands of criminals.
So we are really – we recognize very much these efforts that are now being undertaken by U.S. authorities, and we are also looking forward to receiving Secretary Napolitano and the Attorney General in the coming days, where they will meet with their counterparts and where they will continue to go deeper into the consideration of all these issues and how we can improve. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. There is room for improvement here, there is room for improvement in the U.S., and there is room for improvement everywhere.
I have rejected also the idea that Mexico is a failed state, and I have stated that it is very clear for anybody who comes to this country, for any person who lives here, that this is a democratic country with strong institutions, with very strong leadership, where the citizens can really have a normal life every day. Of course, like in many parts of the world, and Secretary Clinton was just referring to some situations that were faced in U.S. cities, in some cities some time ago. As is normal, you have to be careful. You have to take precautions. You have to be very conscious of some risk and some possible situations that may arise. But absolutely, we are – I think there is no reason why anybody could say that Mexico is a failed state and that institutions are not working properly.
I would like Secretary Clinton to come very often to Mexico, and I would like to take her to many, many very beautiful places that we can share here in our country. Of course, there are some places where I would not take her, and I believe she would not take me to some places in her country, either. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well said, Madame Secretary. (Laughter.) Although I can’t resist saying, you know, my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Mexico, and we’ve come back many times on both personal and professional, official occasions. And I have such a deep regard and affection for Mexico that I am eagerly accepting the Secretary’s invitation to come back often. So that is one of the ways we’re going to deepen and broaden our cooperation.
FOREIGN SECRETARY ESPINOSA: Thank you.
MODERATOR: (In Spanish.)
QUESTION: Buenos tardes, Secretary Espinosa.
Secretary Clinton, I’ll try to be very brief. And I’m hoping you could give us some more insight or be more specific on the meeting and the conversations you had with President Felipe Calderon earlier today. And then also, I would like to know if you could give us the name of the new U.S. ambassador to Mexico – (laughter) – and when he will be coming.
And finally, considering the high expectations everybody has on this new Administration in the United States, could you send a message to undocumented Mexican migrants who are still seeing their human rights violated in the U.S. and who are still suffering or are victims of mistreat in the United States? Secretary Clinton, if you may.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. We had a very broad, productive conversation with President Calderon. It covered certainly the economic situation that both of our countries are facing, our preparations for the G-20 meeting in London. President Calderon and the Mexican Government have been leaders in pushing for replenishment and reform of international financial institutions, like the IMF. We discussed energy and climate change, an area that both of our presidents have great interest in, and which we all know must be addressed. And I hope that there will be a concerted effort to pursue some of the ideas that President Calderon has presented that find a great amount of interest on the part of our Administration. And that will be on the agenda for the meetings between the two presidents.
We talked about the upcoming meeting. We’re very excited about it. I know that President Obama is looking forward to it. We talked about the Summit of the Americas that we will both be attending shortly after that meeting. And we certainly talked about the security issues, the Merida Initiative. It was a broad, open conversation, which I appreciated greatly.
Yes, we are going to be naming a new ambassador. We cannot do that on this trip, but there will certainly be an ambassador. And we’re very much looking forward to that, although I have to say, it’s been a real – a really positive experience for our chargé to be representing us leading up to this trip, and I appreciate her efforts.
And finally, with respect to immigration reform, President Obama remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform. It is and will be a high priority for him and his presidency. We are also taking some actions through administrative changes and looking at the situation that our Administration inherited. So we are certainly sensitive to and understanding of the great concern toward your co-nationals in the United States. We have long said that we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, and therefore we believe strongly that there have to be changes made, and we hope we’ll be able to pursue those in the coming months.
MR. WOOD: The last question is from Warren Strobel from McClatchy Newspapers.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. First for the foreign minister, you mentioned the trucking issue and NAFTA. Congress recently voted to cut off funds for the pilot trucking program. The Obama Administration signed that law. Are you worried about a rising tide of protectionism in the United States – a rising tide of protectionism in the United States as the U.S. goes through an economic recession?
And really quickly for Secretary Clinton, if she would entertain a question on another topic. There’s news today that North Korea has put a missile on the launch pad. I’m not asking you to confirm such a report, but do you see this launch now as inevitable, and what will the consequences for North Korea be?
Thank you very much.
FOREIGN SECRETARY ESPINOSA: Well, on the first question, I would like to say that a very broad consensus has evolved even from the Washington meeting of the G-20 in the sense that it is important to avoid protectionism, to not go into the temptation of protectionism, because this was – this proved not to be a good solution to the crisis in the ‘30s. There’s many reasons, but regarding a scenario of a big crisis like the one we’re facing, this was very clearly one of the reasons why recovery was so slow and it took such a long time.
(Via interpreter.) So in this respect for us (inaudible) Mexico (inaudible) conversation President Calderon and President Obama when they met in January. The issue of keeping (inaudible) need to avoid protectionist measures, which is an issue that has the utmost relevance. This issue which concerns us now (inaudible) problem is the problem that has been a typical problem among our countries. It has been present for a long time. It is not referring only to this point in particular. But here, what I think we should highlight is the fact that both governments have expressed a clear political will to work together in order to find a solution that will benefit both countries and that will allow us to comply with the obligations that we have accepted.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are working very hard to achieve a resolution of this issue, and I appreciate the points that the Secretary made concerning the dangers of protectionism. I believe that she is accurate historically and it is certainly true today that we have to get the global economy moving, we’ve got to get jobs being created again, we have to get incomes rising. And so we are committed to working this through, and I have told the Secretary that.
With respect to North Korea, we have been absolutely clear the intention, as stated by the North Koreans, to launch a missile, for any purpose, is a provocative act which we believe violates Security Council Resolution 1718. We have made it very clear that the North Koreans pursue this pathway at a cost and with consequences to the Six-Party Talks, which we would like to see revived and moving forward as quickly as possible, and we intend to raise this violation of the Security Council resolution – if it goes forward – in the UN. And coincidentally, Mexico will be chairing the Security Council starting in April. We have a very broad agenda that we intend to work with. Issues like Haiti and others are very important to both of our countries. But this provocative action in violation of the United Nations mandate will not go unnoticed and there will be consequences.
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