President Bush is continuing his efforts to build a coalition against terrorism, meeting Thursday with the President of Mexico and the emir of Qatar.
Mexican President Vicente Fox ended a state visit to Washington just a few days before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
President Bush said he returned to a nation changed by the events of September 11. "President Fox understood that right off the bat, "he said. "One of the first calls I got was from Vicente Fox. He called expressing his deep condolences to the American people. He was very kind to me. He wished me well. "
But critics of the Fox government complain its initial response was too low key, and they point to contradictory statements by members of his cabinet. Speaking to reporters after his talks with the Mexican leader, President Bush left no doubt he is satisfied with the words he heard from Vicente Fox. "It is comforting to know that our friend to the south is going to be a friend in good times and tough times," said President Bush.
Mr. Bush indicated that action on some matters of interest to Mexico might be delayed while the United States focuses on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. But he said efforts to boost the U.S. economy - now moving to the fore in Washington - can help Mexico by leading to greater hemispheric trade.
President Fox responded with strong words of support. "We are neighbors," he said. "We are partners. And we want to make very clear that this means commitment all the way."
Mr. Fox spoke specifically of efforts to improve security along Mexico's border with the United States. He promised action, saying Mexico stands side by side with America in the war on terrorism.