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The News
México City, April 22, 2001



QUEBEC CITY -- U.S. President George W. Bush on Saturday said his first state dinner at the White House will be held in honor of President Vicente Fox in the early autumn, possibly in September.

"I've decided that the first state dinner I will have as president of the United States will be with my friend Vicente Fox," Bush said during a picture-taking opportunity as he met the Mexican leader on the sidelines of a summit of 34 leaders from the Americas.

The dinner will be part of the first state visit that Bush will host at the White House since taking office in January.

"I look forward to a continued dialogue on a lot of issues that concern our countries, a lot of issues that concern our hemisphere prior to the dinner."

Bush's first foreign trip of his presidency was to Fox's ranch in San Cristobal, Guanajuato. Bush said throughout his presidential campaign he planned to make the countries in this hemisphere his top foreign policy priority.

But the announcement in Quebec City of the dinner for Fox will likely irk Ottawa officials, who have already expressed concern that Bush appears to be prioritizing relations with its southern neighbor over Canadian ties.

During their talks, Bush and Fox discussed a wide range of issues, from immigration to energy, starting at a conference room in the Hilton Hotel before climbing into a limousine and continuing their talks on the motorcade ride to a group photo with summit leaders.

"The two presidents are really, in addition to being presidents of border states, they're really good friends," said a senior U.S. official who was in the talks.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the leaders also discussed the situation in Colombia, which Fox had just visited, and expressed their support for Colombian President Andres Pastrana's war on guerrillas.

Fox mentioned "the difficulties" Pastrana is facing in the peace process, the official said.

On energy, the official would not get into specifics. The United States would like to purchase natural gas from Mexico to help ease American energy shortages.

The official said they talked about electrical grids, "gas in general" and "overall cooperation" in energy.

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