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Clinton And Zedillo Talk Of Cooperation

Two leaders commit their nations to cooperating on illegal drugs and immigration

clinton zedillo

MEXICO CITY (AllPolitics, May 6) -- During a sunny outdoor ceremony following a day of intense talks, President Bill Clinton and Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo announced alliances to fight illegal drugs and increase cooperation on immigration.

The two leaders signed the "Declaration of Alliance Against Drugs," committing both nations to develop a common drug-fighting strategy by the end of the year. The agreement identifies 15 areas for cooperation.

"Illegal narcotics are not simply a Mexican problem. Far from it," Clinton said. "But neither are they simply an American problem. They are our common problem, and we must find a common solution."

Zedillo agreed, saying: "Mexico and the United States now have a shared vision of the magnitude of the problem and we share the will to combat the problem with all the resources within our reach."

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On the hot-button issue of illegal migration into the United States, Clinton and Zedillo signed a joint statement that commits both countries to improve the management of the 2,000-mile border between the two countries, and to negotiate extradition agreements.

Zedillo was anxious to reassure his constituents that Mexico's sovereignty would not be compromised by its big neighbor. He repeatedly stressed that the agreement was based on "absolute respect of sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction of Mexico, and of the United States."

Clinton said he understands Mexico's concerns. "The issue of immigration raises passion on both sides of our border ... We will ensure respect for human rights and seek to apply the [new immigration] law humanely, especially for children and families. There will be no mass deportation and no discrimination," he said.

But the U.S. president insisted that illegal immigration must be stopped. "To maintain safe and orderly immigration and to do justice by the hundreds of thousands of people who legally immigrate to the United States every year, we must take effective action to stop illegal immigration," he said.

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Drugs have long been a thorny issue between the two nations. The U.S. has frequently demanded that Mexico to do more to stop the flow of illegal narcotics across the borders, while Mexicans say Washington should do more to combat the huge demand from U.S. citizens.

Even before Clinton arrived in Mexico City, the U.S. was already committing more money to fight illegal drugs. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Mexico's Foreign Minister Jose Angel Gurria and promised an immediate $6 million to bolster Mexico's embattled drug-fighting structure.

On the other side, Zedillo last week fired some 1,200 drug enforcement agents, some of whom have been accused of cooperating with drug traffickers. Mexico wants U.S. Drug Enforcement agents to continue operating in Mexico, and promises to work out new arrangements that would guarantee their safety.

On the very sensitive matter of U.S. Drug Enforcement agents being allowed to carry sidearms while serving in Mexico, the two presidents could only announce that they were working on the problem.

Zedillo said, "We will be protecting these law enforcement agents. I am sure that [neither] President Clinton nor myself would ever make public the details which might jeopardize the safety of these people. Yet our commitment with -- in both areas is very clear."

Some of Clinton's first hours in Mexico City Monday were spent at a world-renowned anthropology museum. He later said, "I hope the Mexican people are very proud of [the museum]. Because it shows a -- even to an outsider like me -- the remarkable cultures which were the foundation of modern Mexico. And it certainly gave me a deeper appreciation for the richness and depth of this country's history and the incredible talents and gifts of its people."

CNN's Wolf Blitzer contributed to this report.





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