Rice Offers Words of Friendship in Mexico

Mary Jordan, Washington Post, Mar. 11

MEXICO CITY—Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lauded Mexico as a “remarkable story” and said Thursday that it had made “great progress,” in comments apparently aimed at improving strained relations between the two neighbors.

Rice also stressed the need for cooperative border security, saying terrorists were “doing everything they can” to get into the United States.

“There’s no secret that al Qaeda will try to get into this country and into other countries by any means that they possibly can,” she said during her first visit to Mexico as secretary of state. “They will do everything that they can to cross borders.”

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Rice said at a news conference that the United States did not support vigilante groups patrolling the U.S-Mexico border, an issue that has caused widespread alarm among Mexicans. Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans illegally cross the border every year in search of jobs and a way out of poverty.

She also said Bush was committed to “immigration that is humane, that respects American laws and that also recognizes the economic reality between Mexico and the United States.” Bush has said he supports a guest-worker program, and Congress is scheduled to take up the issue soon.

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