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U.S. Department of State Interview on Mexico's Televisa with Gregorio Meraz

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
September 11, 2003

MR. MERAZ: Mr. Secretary, Colin Powell, first of all, thank you for your time. During the last months there have been some differences between Mexico and U.S. in the Security Council because of different reasons.

Do you believe those differences are affecting the bilateral relation and cooperation of both countries?

SECRETARY POWELL: Not now, no. Clearly we were disappointed in Mexico's position earlier in the year when we were working on a second resolution with respect to Iraq. But we never broke contact. I always stayed in touch with Minister Derbez, and as you know, he was here earlier this week, and we had good conversations and we reviewed the current situation in Iraq.

I hope that Mexico will be able to support us on this new resolution, and Minister Derbez certainly indicated that he looked forward to working with us and any changes Mexico might have, we will certainly take into account. And I hope that his representative in New York will also view the discussions in a positive light, so we stay in touch.

Disagreements come among friends, but then friends make those disagreements go away.

MR. MERAZ: Before September 11, President Bush and President Fox used to keep in touch by telephone or some other means. Recently, it seems like there is not this often this good communication. Do you think in some way they will continue that communication? Do they plan to meet, maybe, in the nearly future?

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, I think there will be opportunities for them to meet in the course of the next several months at international gatherings and I'm sure that President Bush would look forward to an opportunity to speak to President Fox. But I must reiterate that even though Mexico and the United States will always be friends and partners, there was a high level of disappointment in that Mexico did not find it possible to support us on the second Iraq resolution.

Nevertheless, we felt it was important for us to move. We have now liberated Iraq, and we all have to move forward, not live in the past. So now is the time for all members of the Security Council to join in in helping the people of Iraq to rebuild their country and to build a better life for their children.

MR. MERAZ: Mexico's government still insisting in the possibility of getting an immigration agreement. Do you think that they maybe also have to lobby in the Congress to get, first of all, the initiatives, the approval, and then with the support of the White House maybe can get it?

SECRETARY POWELL: We are always looking for ways to satisfy Mexicans' concerns and our concerns with respect to immigration.

To get a large overarching, comprehensive, omnibus immigration law now would be very, very difficult. In the post-9/11 period, we had to essentially stop and see how we can protect our borders, although, you know, we were not worried about Mexican terrorists, ever, but nevertheless, our borders were very open.

And so that created a reaction, as you would expect, among the American people, and the Congress said, "Hey, let's figure out who comes into the country and when do they leave?" So that slowed us down.

Right now, Minister Derbez and I are looking at, what can we do in the very near future that will show progress that will show that both of our Presidents and both of our countries, both of our governments are still committed to immigration reform?

I encourage Mexican officials, when they come to the United States, to go see our Congress, tell our Congress what your concerns are with respect to immigration. That's part of our democratic process.

MR. MERAZ: Are you satisfied with the cooperation of Mexico in the border security and in the struggle against drug smuggling, human smuggling?

SECRETARY POWELL: Mexico has done a lot on the drug smuggling and human smuggling, and I congratulate President Fox and his administration -- a very aggressive approach. And we have done a lot on border security, especially since, you know, 9/11 of two years ago. And I know that Secretary Ridge, our Secretary of Homeland Security works very closely with his Mexican colleagues and we're pleased with the progress that they have made.

MR. MERAZ: Mr. Secretary, we know you have many things to do and we appreciate the opportunity to talk to you.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much.

MR. MERAZ: Thank you, sir.


Released on September 12, 2003