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Mexican President To Fight Drugs

October 31, 2000

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Mexico’s president-elect told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that he wants to start dealing with the issues of drugs and corruption on an international level, a U.N. official said.

During a half-hour meeting at U.N. headquarters, Vicente Fox indicated that Mexico wants to get away from the annual U.S. evaluation of its performance fighting illegal drugs and start attacking the problem with other affected nations, the official said.

Mexico and other countries resent the annual State Department evaluation of their drug-fighting performance, saying it is unfair for the United States alone to decide. If a country’s performance is deemed inadequate, economic sanctions could be imposed.

Fox has proposed that countries affected by drug trafficking _ either by the production or sale of drugs _ should unite forces to combat it.

Annan invited Fox to attend a conference in Palermo, Italy, from Dec. 12-15 on the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the U.N. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Fox didn’t indicate whether he would be able to attend.

Jorge Castaneda, Fox’s adviser on international affairs, called Monday’s meeting ``friendly″ and said the president-elect invited Annan to his inauguration on Dec. 1. Annan didn’t indicate whether he would be able to attend.

Castaneda said Fox, who will become the first Mexican president from an opposition party in more than 70 years, also wants to improve relations between Mexico and the United Nations.

On other issues, the U.N. official said Fox told Annan he was ready to negotiate with Zapatista rebels in the southern state of Chiapas. The rebels staged a brief uprising in the name of indigenous rights in January 1994, marking the beginning of a conflict that still rumbles on today.

Castaneda told reporters the president-elect expressed his intention to reach an agreement in Chiapas as soon as possible, and is ready to make some gestures under certain conditions.

He didn’t elaborate except to say the conditions would be related to the armed forces.

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