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Mexican, US Officials Meet to Defuse Tensions over US Border Warning


Mexico's foreign minister and the U.S. ambassador to Mexico met Saturday in an effort to patch up strained relations, following a State Department warning about violence on the Mexican side of the border.

The Mexican foreign minister asked U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza to a breakfast meeting to discuss the dispute.

The spat, which both sides are working to smooth over, followed a letter from Ambassador Garza, warning that a recent surge in drug-related violence along the border could have a "chilling" effect on trade and tourism. The State Department also issued a travel alert warning of increased violence.

At Saturday's meeting, which was described by officials as cordial, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez stressed government efforts to crack down on crime in the region, including increasing federal law enforcement operations there.

According to a joint statement, Ambassador Garza reiterated that the State Department's announcement was only meant to help protect the safety of U.S. citizens. He noted that it did not actually recommend that Americans avoid traveling to Mexico, but only that they take precautions in specific areas.

Ambassador Garza also noted that the wave of border violence is the result of the successful efforts of President Fox's administration in the fight against organized crime.

James Dickmeyer, press attache at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, said the ambassador's letter was in no way meant to be controversial.

The joint statement said 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.

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