For Immediate Release
Dr. Rice Previews President's Trip to Asia and Australia
3:26 P.M. EDT
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Q On the bilateral with the President of Mexico, what are you going to expect from President Bush? Just another confirmation, of talking he's committed to the immigration reform? Have you got any proposal, real proposal to Congress? There are people who said the President is going to speak about, again, immigration, because he wants to get the bulk of the Latino community in this country -- because he's committed to a real reform of immigration.
DR. RICE: The President has been a longtime proponent of a humane and safe policy for issues of immigration -- obviously concerned that immigration be legal; recognizing that we have had circumstances under which we have to worry about that humane treatment of people who try and come illegally. The President, after all, was governor of Texas, and he was well-known for his views on this.
Now, as to what we might be able to do with Mexico, President Fox and President Bush have discussed this issue on a number of occasions. They discussed it when President Fox was here, and they came up with, I think, a formula that has served us quite well, which is that there are some principles that they both adhere to: humane treatment, willing workers and those willing to work -- a range of principles.
But the important thing, as they said, is to get it right, not necessarily to try and do it fast. Because there are a lot of sensitive issues involved and they're going to continue to work on the issues. Secretary Powell and General Ashcroft are co-chairs of a task force that works on these issues, works on the issues with their counterparts in Mexico. And we're going to continue to try to come to a policy that makes sense.
Q What do you expect from the meeting? Just the continuation of talking --
DR. RICE: I think they will continue to talk about it. And this is not a meeting in which -- these are all fairly short bilats; I would not expect major breakthroughs in any of these bilaterals. But is an issue that remains on the agenda of the President, remains on the agenda of President Fox, and one that they believe strongly ought to -- on which they ought to make progress.
President Fox does want to discuss, he's told the President, the kind of NAFTA next phase. And there is an initiative on trying to improve the reach of NAFTA so that you don't have a situation in which it's just the northern part of Mexico that is benefiting from NAFTA. This has been something that's very important to President Fox. They will discuss that. Because, ultimately, the ability to make Mexico's economy really work so that, as President Fox has said, the most ambitious people stay home is really the long-term goal here.
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END 3:58 P.M. EDT