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Rice Praises Mexico for Its Border Security, Anti-Drug Cooperation with US

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came to Mexico Thursday for a one-day official visit. Her trip is viewed as effort to pave the way for President Vicente Fox's March 23 trip to the Crawford family ranch of President George Bush.

Secretary Rice explained that her visit to Mexico provides an opportunity for dialogue on a number of bi-lateral issues, including border security and immigration.

In her speech at the Mexican Foreign Ministry she acknowledged the importance and delicate political nature of the immigration issue. Mexico is seeking a temporary migrant worker agreement for millions of its citizens, and President Bush has already proposed legislation in the U.S. Congress to deal with the issue.

Secretary Rice said immigration was an important agenda item in her discussions with President Fox in the Mexican Presidential Palace Los Pinos.

Secretary Rice praised Mexico's cooperation in the continuing fight against drug trafficking, and stressed the importance of border vigilance to prevent terrorist attacks.

Speaking about the so called Minute Man initiative in the southwestern state of Arizona, involving volunteers trying to spot illegal migrants and report them to the Border Patrol, Secretary Rice said Washington does not approve of illegal means of surveillance.

"Obviously the United States Government would not condone any extra legal means to deal with immigration. These are to be dealt with immigration officials, and we work very closely with our Mexican counterparts to try and make sure that our borders are safe and secure as possible and it is very important that the laws of the United States be respected," she said.