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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 May, 2005, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK
Fox in new bid to end US race row
President Vicente Fox
Vicente Fox says his remarks were misunderstood
Mexican President Vicente Fox has made fresh moves to ease tensions caused by his comments about black American citizens, in a US radio interview.

Mr Fox caused offence when he said that Mexicans did jobs in the US "that not even blacks wanted to do".

In his first public response on the remarks, Mr Fox said he "very much regret[s] the misinterpretation".

The US has criticised his comments, but Mr Fox has said that he was defending the work done by Mexican immigrants.

He made the comments earlier this month to express frustration with tough new immigration legislation recently approved by the US Senate.

The law will require immigrants to have a legal status before they can apply for a driver's licence - a key identity document in the US.

The legislation also gave permission for the extension of a border fence on the Californian border with Mexico.

'Great respect'

Sunday's radio interview between Mr Fox and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson followed their meeting on Wednesday, in which the president expressed regret for his "harmful" remarks.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson
Jesse Jackson said Mr Fox's comments had "racist overtones"

On the Chicago radio show, Mr Fox defended his commitment to human rights.

"I have a great respect for the African-American community and I much regret the misinterpretation of a phrase that was used in a specific context," Mr Fox added, quoted by Spanish news agency Efe.

Mr Fox had earlier apologised for "any hurt feelings caused by my statements" during a telephone conversation with Rev Jackson, according to a Mexican government statement.

His speech drew widespread condemnation in the US. The state department described the remark as "very insensitive and inappropriate".

News agencies say reaction in Mexico has been muted.

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