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The BBC's Philippa Thomas in San Cristobal
"The personal chemistry between the two men was evident"
 real 28k

The BBC's Peter Greste
"This is more an informal meeting of new friends"
 real 56k

Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 02:45 GMT
Bush and Fox forge links
US President George W Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox
The tone of the meeting was one of friendship
US President George W Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox have promised greater cooperation in trade, dealing with illegal drugs, and immigration.

The two leaders spoke of a "shared prosperity" between their countries, but stopped short of specific commitments.

US President George W Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox
The two men have worked together before
Mr Bush, visiting Mexico on the first foreign trip of his presidency, said the two countries were "bound together by ties of history, family, values, commerce and culture."

At a relaxed outdoor news conference in shirtsleeves and open collars, Mr Fox said the fact that Mr Bush had chosen to Mexico for his first trip was a "clear message".

"This starting point is very encouraging so that Mexicans and Americans together can inaugurate an era of shared prosperity together," he said.

Drugs war

Mr Vicente welcomed Mr Bush at Bajio International Airport in the central state of Guanajuato, for a one-day summit on Friday. The two leaders exchanged a handshake and quick hug.


He's the kind of man you can look in the eye and know he's shooting straight with you

Bush, on Fox
After a brief ceremony, the two leaders drove to the nearby farm town of San Cristobal, about 340 km (210 miles) northwest of Mexico City, where they visited the ranch of Mr Fox's mother, Mercedes Quesada.

Mr Bush made small talk in Spanish and then the two presidents retired to private meetings at the Mexican president's ranch.

Mr Bush said they spent a lot of time talking about how best to share energy resources and the possibility of energy exploration in Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell
Secretary of State Colin Powell joined Mr Bush
"It is a hemispheric issue and it needs to be elevated to the presidential level," said Mr Bush.

The two men also discussed the war against illegal drugs.

Mr Bush said he trusted Mr Fox when he said he was committed to an all-out fight against drug traffickers.

"He's the kind of man you can look in the eye and know he's shooting straight with you," said Mr Bush.

But he said the US was responsible for creating the demand that drives the drug trade.

"United States citizens use drugs," he said. "And our nation must do a better job of educating our citizenry about the dangers and evils of drug use."

Friendship

A few dozen Mexicans who live in the United States held a protest march in San Cristobal to demand amnesty for illegal immigrants, but they were turned back and kept away until the presidents left.

"We're here because we want help in working legally in the United States, because we suffer a lot on the way up," said migrant Ezequiel Martinez, who has crossed the border for seasonal farm work since the 1970s.

Correspondents say the trip was also a way for the two leaders to cement their relationship.

Both men are newcomers to office - President Fox assumed one month before Mr Bush - but they have worked together before, when Mr Bush was state governor of Texas.

They also share a fondness for cowboy boots and Stetson hats. On Friday Mr Bush wore black cowboy boots and a large silver belt buckle.

Mr Bush campaigned hard to win US Hispanic votes in last year's presidential election. During the campaign, he said America's relationship with Mexico and Latin America was one of his priorities.

Mexico has developed into a stronger economic player since the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1994.

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See also:

16 Feb 01 | Americas
Mexico's Stetson summit
15 Feb 01 | Americas
Bush aims to build ties with Mexico
15 Feb 01 | Americas
Analysis: Mexican exodus
18 May 00 | Americas
Mexico attacks US vigilantes
15 Jun 00 | Americas
US smashes Mexico drugs ring
17 Feb 01 | Americas
Analysis: Bush's first foreign trip
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