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Albright’s Mexico Trip Undefined

January 15, 2000

OAXACA CITY, Mexico (AP) _ Drug trafficking, immigration laws, NAFTA, corruption: Numerous issues remain outstanding between the United States and Mexico as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright prepares for meetings here Sunday.

However, U.S. and Mexican officials have revealed few details on what Albright will discuss when she meets Mexican Foreign Secretary Rosario Green in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca on Sunday.

The Mexican Foreign Relations ministry did not issue a statement, and a U.S. Embassy spokesman referred inquiries to the State Department’s Web site, which cryptically summarized the visit as a meeting to continue ``ongoing discussions and review of this crucial bilateral relationship.″

Albright, on a three-day tour of Latin America, was expected to arrive late Saturday night from Panama, where she was meeting President Mireya Moscoso and reviewing results of the recent transfer of the Panama Canal from U.S. to local control.

Before visiting Panama, Albright met Colombian officials to exchange views on a multibillion-dollar U.S. aid package designed to fight drug trafficking.

In Oaxaca, Green and Albright were to meet Sunday morning before touring the ancient Zapotec ruins at Monte Alban. She was to return to Washington on Sunday afternoon.

Given that both President Clinton and Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo are in the last year of their terms, ``I don’t expect very dramatic news to come out,″ said John Bailey, a Mexican specialist and government professor at Georgetown University in Washington. ``It sounds kind of routine.″

Albright wasn’t exactly making a big splash among residents or out-of-town visitors to Oaxaca, a colorful city known for its ruins, colonial architecture and black pottery.

``Oh, you’re kidding. She’s coming here?″ said Canadian tourist Geri Rea, lunching Saturday afternoon with her husband in an outdoor cafe next to the city’s crowded central plaza. ``She should be in the Middle East.″

Juan Cristobal Aquino, a 42-year-old Oaxacan primary school teacher getting a shoeshine while reading the state’s most prominent newspaper, Noticias, said he wasn’t sure who Albright was. He said the paper hadn’t even mentioned the visit.

As for what Albright might accomplish, Aquino said he would like to see the two countries do something to stop the mistreatment of Mexican immigrants working in the United States.

That was an issue also on the mind of 48-year-old Irene Ruiz, who was having breakfast Saturday morning at the Hotel Victoria.

``They need to give more help to the Mexicans who cross the border to work,″ she said. ``To give them more information on what’s going to happen when they arrive.″

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