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President Bush,  Mexican Leader Vicente Fox  Meet in Texas - 2004-03-06

President Bush is at his ranch near Crawford, Texas, where he will be playing host to Mexican President Vicente Fox this weekend. The two leaders plan to discuss immigration and a number of other bilateral issues.

At the top of the agenda, especially for the Mexican leader, is the immigration issue and President Bush's proposal to grant temporary work permits to Mexican immigrants. President Fox has made achieving such an accord a central goal of his presidency.

The two leaders had discussed the idea in Washington the week before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, but the attacks caused the United States to focus more on border security and the immigration question was set aside.

Now, according to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, the two leaders will use the relaxed atmosphere of Mr. Bush's central Texas ranch to talk about immigration and many other topics.

"I expect they will discuss a wide range of issues, from our cooperation on terrorism, to border security, to trade, to hemispheric issues, to water," he said.

The water issue refers to a debt owed the United States by Mexico under a 1944 treaty for sharing water resources along the 2,000-kilometer border. Farmers in south Texas have complained that Mexico's failure to deliver the water it has stored in some reservoirs has adversely affected their production. Mexico has contended that its drought-stricken northern region does not have enough water to meet the full obligation.

The meeting between Presidents Bush and Fox here this weekend will also provide the opportunity for the two leaders to patch up differences over the war in Iraq. Mexico, which held a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council last year, opposed the U.S.-sponsored resolution on Iraq, and President Fox openly favored a peaceful solution to the crisis. Later, President Fox canceled a trip to visit the Bush ranch because the state of Texas executed a Mexican citizen who had been denied a visit from the Mexican consul as required under a bilateral treaty.

Those issues aside, the meeting here on the Bush ranch this weekend is expected to focus on the positive. The two leaders will talk about joint efforts to stop drug trafficking, immigrant smuggling and the possible use of Mexico by terrorists to enter the United States.

President Fox and his wife, Marta, will join President Bush and his wife, Laura, for a formal dinner Friday at the ranch. On Saturday, the two leaders are scheduled to hold a joint news conference before Mr. Fox returns to Mexico.