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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 24, 2000
                        REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                         AT PRESS AVAILABILITY

                            The Rose Garden

12:34 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Let me just say very briefly what a great honor it is for me, personally, and for the United States, to have the President-elect of Mexico here. I have looked forward to this very much, for the chance to congratulate him on his election, and all the people of Mexico on a truly historic affirmation of genuine democracy in their country. I'm glad he's here and I'm looking forward to getting to know him, hearing his ideas and doing what I can to help him get off to a strong start in our partnership.

PRESIDENT-ELECT FOX: Well, the same here. I'm very glad to be here, sharing a few minutes with President Clinton, the opportunity to know each other, the opportunity to tell him about this great day, July the 2nd in Mexico, and the opportunity to get to know experiences that you have lived in this eight years in this excellent and growing relationship between Mexico and the United States, and also to thank you for all the support you gave to Mexico in difficult times.

When we were in crisis, we also got and saw the hand of a friend. And so that's something that we recognize in Mexico and I personally recognize and thank you for in the name of all Mexicans.

Q Is Mexico considered a democracy example to America Latina?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Considered an example?

Q Yes, to America Latina?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think that what happened in Mexico is very impressive. I mean, we had a genuine, competitive, democratic election. And I think it's an example to people who are friends of freedom everywhere in the world.

Q President Clinton, excuse me -- President-elect Fox has brought up a whole bunch of new ideas on the relationship between Mexico and the United States, including plans concerning the border immigration. Are you going to discuss these in full length?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I certainly hope so. I want to hear them. Obviously, we have borders and we have laws that apply to them and we have to apply them, and so do the Mexicans. But I think over the long run, our countries will become more interdependent.

If you just look at what's happened in the relationship between the United States and Mexico since NAFTA, President-elect Fox had mentioned -- made a reference to the assistance the United States gave to Mexico when they had a serious financial crisis. But I always like to remind the American people that our Mexican neighbors paid their loan back ahead of time and in the best possible way. They were good neighbors. We did the right thing. And everything that has happened there has validated the commitment of every genuine friend of an equal partnership in our country.

I think over time, you will see growing interdependence in our hemisphere. And I think the Canadians will be a part of that, and I very much hope our friends in Central America and South America and the Caribbean will be part of that. It will be the way of the world. And we will all have to deal with the enemies of organized society and the nation state together, as well as taking advantage of all these opportunities. I regret that I won't be around for a lot of it. But I think it's a good thing.

Q -- an idea to increase the number of legal visas for Mexico, up to a quarter of a million visas, in exchange for more cooperation and enforcement on the Mexican side to stop illegal immigration from coming to the U.S. How do you see that? Is that doable?

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I want to talk to him about it. I think if you look at the United States, I believe we have the most generous immigration policy in the world. And as you know, I've been a very strong supporter of that. We were just talking on the way out about the various kinds of people that are in our administration and where they're from, and America has been made a better country because of that. But I want to talk about the details. Look, we just met. We have to go talk.

Do you want to say anything to him?

Q Did you talk about border issues with Vice President Gore, and what did he say? Vice President Gore.

PRESIDENT-ELECT FOX: I will have a press conference later for that meeting.

Q (Question asked in Spanish.)

PRESIDENT-ELECT FOX: (Question answered in Spanish.)


END 12:40 P.M. EDT