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President Bush Hosting March 23 Talks with Leaders of Mexico, Canada
Trilateral meeting to promote security, prosperity in region
By Eric Green
Washington File
Posted on All American Patriots March 7th, 2005

Washington -- President George W. Bush will hold talks with the leaders of Mexico and Canada on March 23, in a meeting the White House says is designed to strengthen border security and promote prosperity in North America. Bush is hosting Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin for trilateral working sessions at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, followed by a lunch at Bush's ranch in nearby Crawford, located about 40 kilometers from the university.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said in announcing the meeting that security and prosperity "go hand-in-hand," and that those topics have been "at the top" of the three countries' shared agenda during previous meetings.

Trade matters may also be at the forefront of the Texas meeting, as the three countries are partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which went into effect in 1994. The U.S.-Canada trade relationship represents the largest bilateral flow of income, goods, and services in the world, while U.S.-Mexican trade has increased over 225 percent since NAFTA's adoption -- making Mexico the second-largest trading partner of the United States.

U.S. officials have said that despite disagreements between the United States and Canada on some issues, the two countries are linked by geography, history, and economic ties, and will continue to be the "closest of friends and friendliest of competitors." U.S. officials say that both the United States and Canada must do a better job of keeping their citizens safe from terrorist attack, while also ensuring that enhanced security at border crossings does not impede commerce.

The United States and Canada formed a united front against terrorists crossing their mutual border when they signed a "Smart Border/30 Point Action Plan" in 2001 concerning immigration-related issues.

The action plan is designed to ensure the secure flow of people and goods, safeguard infrastructure, and provide information sharing and coordination in the enforcement of these objectives. The two countries' shared concern on immigration matters was reflected in an agreement that permits the sharing of information relating to asylum seekers, helping each country identify potential security and criminality threats.

U.S. officials have said that the environment is another area where the United States and Canada must work cooperatively to address such issues as climate change, water quality in the Great Lakes, and the entry and spread of alien invasive species.

U.S. officials say the United States and Mexico both recognize that cooperation between the two countries has brought positive results in making their common border "smarter" and more secure through the use of technology. The two countries say that collaboration between law enforcement institutions on both sides of the border has increased and improved in recent years, to the benefit of citizens of both countries.

Immigration is an issue of paramount importance to the U.S.-Mexico bilateral relationship. President Bush has reiterated that he is committed to a "Temporary Guest Worker Program," which would allow an estimated six million undocumented workers in the United States to gain legal status. The majority of those workers are from Mexico, which is the world's number-one country for receiving money sent home by migrants in the United States. Immigration experts report that these remittances (money transfers) sent by Mexican workers to their homeland totaled about $17 billion in 2004.

The White House says the guest worker program will provide for more humane treatment of migrants and help meet their economic needs, while increasing security for the United States.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

 

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