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Helen Clark & Mexican President Felipe Calderon

Scooo Images & Report: Helen Clark & Mexican President Felipe Calderon


Images and story By Joseph Barratt

The ongoing pursuit of new markets for NZ Inc. saw Prime Minister Helen Clark meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon early this morning in Auckland before crossing the ditch to attend the APEC leaders summit.

Standing in the cold waiting for President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa to arrive the large entourage of Mexican media kept themselves entertained taking photos of themselves with the Maori welcoming group in the background.

President Calderon arrived and the Haka began. He then took a quick tour of the grounds and inspected New Zealand army honour guard.

His brief meeting with Helen Clark lasted just one hour.

President Calderon’s arrival in New Zealand raised the ire of some groups such as the NZ Latin American Solidarity Committee.

They called on Helen Clark to raise with President Calderon the issue of ongoing human right abuses in areas of Mexico such as Oaxaca and Chiapas.

President Calderon's mandate to govern is widely questioned in his own county. The recent election result which saw him elected by a narrow majority saw widespread reports of electoral system abuse, and a tense standoff between massive crowds of Mexicans in the center of Mexico City for weeks after the election.

If any of this did come up in discussion between the leaders there was certainly no evidence of it in the public appearance of the two Pacific Rim leaders. Instead the meeting brought the unveiling of a new holiday working scheme which is intended to bring ties between New Zealand and the Americas closer.

The scheme will see up to 200 people aged between 18 and 30 from both Mexico and New Zealand visiting and working in each country.

"It will enable both New Zealand and Mexican young people to experience each other's countries and cultures,” said Ms Clark.

Ms Clark outlined how the strengthening of ties would eventually see the possibility of a free trade agreement between the two countries.

She then talked of the large border that Mexico shares with the United States, and the further possibilities this represents for New Zealand companies to get into the US market.

By mid-day President Calderon was on his way to APEC in Sydney ending the first official visit by a Mexican President since New Zealand established diplomatic ties 34 years ago.

Ms Clark then announced that she would be meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao to further ongoing negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement later this evening, in Sydney.

This is another potential trade agreement that has remained contentious because of the un-democratic nature of the Chinese government and widespread concerns about human right abuses.

ENDS

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