Mexico's President Felipe Calderon won a pledge on Wednesday from President George W. Bush to push for a U.S. immigration bill after a meeting that Calderon said may signal a new stage in the two countries' relations.
Calderon said the two presidents discussed how to pass a bill that recognizes the rights of migrants already in the U.S. and sets up a program for guest workers. The presidents also talked about beefing up a working group to mitigate the effect on Mexican small farmers of opening Mexico's corn and bean industry to free trade in 2008, Calderon said. Wednesday also marked the end of Bush's six-day tour of Latin America that included stops in Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and Guatemala where he promised to advance in such diverse issues as fighting poverty, bio-fuels, trade, education and security matters. However now comes the tough part which is delivering on those issues when US Congress in the hands of Democrats. Nevertheless a follow up is on the making. Bush is to meet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the presidential retreat in Camp David on March 31 where the two are expected to discuss the Doha round of world trade talks among other issues. There's talk of a Bush trip next month to Haiti and to the Dominican Republic, and newly confirmed Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who spent many years in the region as ambassador, is expected to weigh in on Latin American issues. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson will visit Guatemala and Peru next week. During the two days Calderon and Bush spoke with ''frankness'' and ''sincerity'' about issues such as human rights, free trade, security, sustainable development and poverty, Calderon said. "I appreciate your candor'' Bush said before toasting Calderon at the official dinner. ''I appreciate you being straight forward." ''I will work with Congress, members of both political parties, to pass immigration law that will enable us to respect the rule of law and at the same time respect humanity in a way that upholds the values of the United States of America,'' Bush said.