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11:45 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: It is my honor to welcome my friend back to the White House. It wasn't all that long ago that we were standing out here for the opening ceremony of the first and only state dinner I've had since I've been the President. He came as a friend then, and he's come back as a loyal friend to the United States.
September 11th really changed America. President Fox understood that right off the bat. 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. President Fox understands that an attack on America affects Mexico in a significant way. After all, there are millions of Mexican Americans and Mexican nationals living in America; men and women who saw a land they love attacked; men and women who have united around a great cause of defending freedom.
In this country we don't ask the question, what is your religion or where are you from. We ask the question, are you united to defend freedom. And there are millions of Mexican Americans who understand that call. So when the President said, we stand with you, he is not only saying, we stand with the United States government, he's saying, we stand with millions of people living in our country, as well.
President Fox and I had a great discussion about ways we can continue to cooperate. We need to cooperate on security matters along our border, which we are. We need to continue working on other agenda items that we have been working on, and we will.
Obviously, our nation is now focused on the incidents of September 11th. But I assured him our relationship will go forward, that we'll work on the issues that we had discussed the last time we were here. I talked to my friend about our economy. It has been affected significantly by the actions of September the 11th. But I assured him that we will take an aggressive role at the federal level to try to spur economic growth, which is very important, since we've got a significant amount of trade between our nations.
In sum, I'm so glad he came back. It's comforting to know that our friend to the south is going to be a friend in good times and in tough times.
So, Mr. President, welcome back. Thank you for coming.
PRESIDENT FOX: Thank you. And thank you, President, for the opportunity to be back here again; the opportunity to express very clearly, loudly, our sorrow, our solidarity with your government, with the American people, with the victims and all those who suffered under these attacks. But also, the opportunity to reaffirm our commitments.
We are a friend, we are neighbors, we are partners, and we want to make very clear that this means commitment all the way, and that we will keep our commitments. And we are working on an everyday basis, either in the border, either in customs, either in migration, either -- on each of the subjects that have to do with security. We will be side by side in your efforts to defeat terrorism in the world and wherever it is.
We will be coordinating, participating, collaborating on our side with our resources that we have at hand. And we know of your efforts not only to meet this challenge, we know the efforts also to keep America moving. And that's something that we very proudly see, that this nation does not know about defeat; on the contrary. But it's working to come back to be the leader, to be that strong spirit and economy that is an example for all of us.
And we're working in the same direction. We know that in economic terms, things are interactive; as well, as we buy a lot of products, services from the United States, we sell a lot of products to the United States, being one of the largest trading two economies in the world. And through working in that direction, we can also contribute to overcoming this situation.
So, thanks again for giving us this opportunity. And we go back knowing that we have a lot of work to do, that we've been doing and that we will keep on doing. So, thank you, President.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, Mr. President.
END 11:51 A.M. EDT
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