President Bush. President Salinas and Mrs. Salinas, Secretaries Solana and Baker, Ambassadors Petricioli and Negroponte, and members of the delegation and friends, less than 1 year ago, sir, we met in Houston, Texas, as two Presidents-elect and began to focus on what for each of us is a major Presidential responsibility: defining and enhancing the U.S.-Mexican relationship.
Mr. President, you and I went to Houston certain of the importance of our responsibilities, for ours is one of the world's broadest and most complex bilateral relationships. But I think that few could have envisioned the degree of success that our talks would have. That success was embodied by what has come to be known as the Spirit of Houston: our joint commitment to create a framework of mutual trust and understanding. And in the past year that spirit has strengthened our Mexican-American ties.
Together, Mexico and the United States have worked to negotiate a solution to the debt question and develop greater cooperation in the war against drugs. Together, we've improved opportunities for bilateral trade and investment and nurtured our environment -- in sum, finding new ways to reaffirm old bonds. When President Salinas and I met last July in Paris, these steps were already underway -- steps crucial to countries with such shared social, economic, and regional interests.
And now, as I welcome President Salinas to our Capital for his first state visit, I look forward to continued progress and additional proof of how Mexico and the United States can work together toward common ends, toward positive results. Those ends are reflected in today's agenda, for as major trading partners we must explore ways to expand our commerce, and as members of the Organization of American States, discuss how democracy can be restored to Panama and free and fair elections held in Nicaragua.
And this year we celebrate a century of joint projects by the International Boundary and Water Commission. We must renew that cooperation and continue to strengthen our assault on the plague of drug use and trafficking. For we know that what threatens one nation in our hemisphere threatens us all. In each case, strong bilateral cooperation is fundamental to an effective multilateral response. And thankfully, Mr. President, our countries share the good will and dedication to confront and meet our challenges -- meet them through mutual candor, through mutual respect.
I've often spoken of the need to recognize the permanent importance of the U.S.-Mexican relationship. And Mr. President, I'd like again to refer to that need today, for U.S.-Mexican affairs are vital to our respective national agendas. Our relations now are strong, and they must grow even stronger -- and they will.
On behalf of the United States of America, President Salinas and Mrs. Salinas, let me welcome you both to the White House and to this country and to your friends.
President Salinas. President George Bush, Mrs. Bush, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to come to this land of liberty. I bring the greetings and the desire of the Mexican people to raise our friendship with the United States to a new level of direct, effective, and respectful dialog and to an economic cooperation without precedent for our common prosperity. I am deeply grateful for the welcome that I have received from you and from your wife, Mrs. Bush, and from many Americans in this beautiful city of Washington.
I come to share with you the idea that one's own well-being is more lasting when it is accompanied by the well-being of others. I come here convinced that there is a spirit of cordiality between us -- born in Houston, reaffirmed in Paris, and ratified in Camp David -- which is ready to aid us in making the most of our points in common and resolving our differences. That is the basis of friendly relations between two neighbors who are different but determined to benefit from their coexistence and to live up to the values that their people share.
We have good reasons to take new steps in those matters that concern and interest both of our countries: a less uncertain world, one that is less threatened and more propitious to the development of all nations; a cordial and respectful bilateral relationship that will loosen fetters of inertia, improve mutual understanding, and permit the steady development of the human potential of our peoples. We can open a new stage in trade between our countries. We can find a way to deal more humanely with the migration of Mexicans to the United States. We can strike lethal blows against drug trafficking to free the world from that international scourge. We can respond to the urgent demand for a healthier environment, for an ecological future of the kind that our children deserve. These are topics that will occupy our closest attention.
The history of our relations provides examples that show us how valuable it is for us to cooperate and how sterile confrontation is. Working together, we have gotten to know each other better, and we have learned to take more advantage of the opportunities that arise from our complex interrelationship.
Mr. President, we are neighbors who are important to each other. We shall study our common problems and move toward resolving them, because it is in the interest of the Mexican and the American peoples to turn neighbors into friends and challenges into opportunities for our mutual benefit. May this greeting to President Bush be seen as well as the expression of our most cordial greeting to all the people of the United States of America.
Note: President Bush spoke at 10:13 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House. President Salinas was accorded a formal welcome with full military honors. In his remarks, President Bush referred to Mexican Foreign Minister Fernando Solana Morales, Secretary of State James A. Baker III, Mexican Ambassador to the United States Gustavo Petricioli, and United States Ambassador to Mexico John D. Negroponte. President Salinas spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.