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Rice IV with Javier Alatorre of Television Azteca

Interview with Javier Alatorre of Television Azteca

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Mexico City, Mexico
March 10, 2005

MR. ALATORRE: Thank you, Mrs. Rice, to give us this interview and welcome to Mexico City.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you, it's great to be here and great to be with you.

MR. ALATORRE: Thank you. How was your meeting with President Fox this morning?

SECRETARY RICE: The meeting with President Fox was wonderful. First of all, I've known him now for a number of years and he has an excellent relationship with President Bush. And we talked about how they're both looking forward to the meeting they will have in Texas and then with Prime Minister Martin of Canada as well. We discussed a range of issues. The U.S.-Mexican relationship is very complex and we have many, many issues in common because we are neighbors, we are friends, we are allies. And so we were able to discuss a number of those issues.

MR. ALATORRE: Mrs. Rice, are you the hardlined or represent the hardliners in the Bush Administration, in President Bush Administration?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I like to think that what we represent, all of us who work for the President, is a policy that is very focused now on the universal human aspiration for liberty and for freedom. It is an aspiration that has in many ways been met here in Mexico after a long history, Mexico's vibrant democracy, which is contributing to Mexico's economic growth. When I see the free press and the contestation of political -- for political positions, this is a wonderful example. And this hemisphere has undergone a democratic revolution over the last decade and a half or so.

There are parts of the world that don't enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy, and what this President has done is to speak out for those people.

MR. ALATORRE: And in the relation with Mexico, I have to ask, what is Mexico for the American Government? Is a neighbor in trouble? Is a partner? Or is it back yard?

SECRETARY RICE: It's a neighbor and a partner. And those two go together. We occupy the same continent and it means that when it comes to trade, we are fundamentally among the most important trading partners for each other.

We occupy a continent so our security is Mexico's security and vice versa. We have many ties of kinship. I'm from California, which is a state that's very much influenced by Mexico, by Mexican culture. And so we share a common heritage, we share common values, and so Mexico is a partner and a friend and a neighbor.

MR. ALATORRE: It means also that the Mexico is a national security issue for the United States?

SECRETARY RICE: I would like to think of it as we are together concerned about our joint security. We very often, after September 11th, think about the threats of terrorism, the need for border security. But of course, all countries are vulnerable in this way and so the work that we've done together on smart borders, the work we've together to make our borders more secure, this protects Mexicans and it protects Americans.

It is also the case that when we are engaged together in stopping counternarcotics trade, which is a terrible tragedy, not just for the United States but also for Mexico. So these are our joint security issues.

MR. ALATORRE: The recent comments, recent comments about Mexico, are an indifference in Mexico own policies? I mean, the security in the border line, the narcotraffic, the mafias taking control of the jails, the human rights. Are all these issues are an indifference to Mexico?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, let me start by saying that in all of these cases, we have had a very good partnership and working relationship with Mexico on the whole range of issues that we share. Mexico has made, of course, as their democracy a lot of progress on issues like human rights and no one is intending to point a finger at one another.

The point is that we have common concerns about the drug trade, we have common concerns about border security and about terrorism, we have common concerns to make sure that while our borders are secure, we can have freedom of movement of the people who are engaged in commerce and trade. These are all elements of our occupying, if you will, the same continental space. We have to have good partnership and cooperation on these issues.

MR. ALATORRE: And in political issues, are the United States worried about the left or the possibility of a president in the left ruling in Mexico?

SECRETARY RICE: Mexico is a vibrant democracy and Mexicans will make the decision about their President and about their parliament. This is not a matter for the United States. What is so encouraging is how the rule of laws, the democratic institutions, the anti-corruption campaigns that President Fox has had -- it is not as if there isn't more to do and there are not issues still for this democracy. But we recognize Mexico's democratic processes and that's what's important here.

MR. ALATORRE: Another important issue, international issue, is the war on terror. Are you worried about the anti-American feeling in many countries because of war on terror?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I read often that there's an anti-American feeling and I know that some polling shows that. But America has had to do very difficult things. We have had to go to war to deal with dictators in Afghanistan and Iraq who were threatening the region, Afghanistan itself the source of al-Qaida terrorism that caused 9/11. And I know that no one likes war and that these were difficult decisions, but we have come through those decisions with our friends and our partners. We are focused on the future.

And as we work together to resolve, for instance, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which has gone on far too long, and where we have an opportunity, I think, to resolve that and to have life be better for the Palestinian people; as we work to see liberty spread in places where it has never been -- the pictures of Iraqis or Afghans voting for the first time -- it must have been heartening to people in Mexico and the United States and Europe who have that right to see others have that right. So our international agenda is one that I think we can unite around and the reason we can unite around this is that we share common values, and that's the most important thing.

MR. ALATORRE: So Mrs. Rice, thank you very much for this conversation.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.

MR. ALATORRE: Thank you.

2005/306

Released on March 10, 2005


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