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Regional Summit Opens in Mexico


U.S. President George Bush is in Mexico for a two-day summit with leaders from across the Americas on issues including trade, poverty and corruption.

Mr. Bush is joining officials from 33 other nations Monday, at the start of a special two-day Summit of the Americas in Mexico's northern city of Monterrey.

During the two-day meeting, Mr. Bush is scheduled to hold one-on-one meetings with his counterparts from Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Mexico.

He also is expected to urge summit participants to back a measure that would exclude corrupt governments from the Organization of American States, the body hosting the summit.

President Bush will also likely press for the creation of a 34 nation regional free-trade zone by 2005. The proposed free-trade area would create the largest market in the world with an estimated 800 million people.

Several Latin American nations, including Brazil and Venezuela, say the trade talks should be set aside for another time. They say the summit should focus on its original agenda of issues, including poverty, economic and social development, and democracy.

Mr. Bush's trip to Monterrey comes just days after he proposed sweeping changes to U.S. immigration laws that would legalize some of the estimated eight million undocumented workers in the United States.

At least half of those undocumented workers are from Mexico.

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