MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- A top Mexican church official called the mid-February meeting between the U.S. and Mexican presidents ``very positive'' in establishing greater equality between the two neighboring nations in solving border problems.
The meeting in Mexico ``marks a new stage in which common problems will be focused in a new vision of co-responsibility,'' said Bishop Abelardo Alvarado Alcantara, general secretary of the Mexican bishops' conference.
A ``climate of cordiality'' was established in which Mexico was not seen ``as the bad guy,'' he said.
This is important regarding issues such as Mexican migration to the United States and drug smuggling, the bishop said.
The Mexican bishops had not issued a statement on the meeting, but Bishop Alvarado offered his views in a Feb. 19 telephone interview.
The meeting between Presidents George W. Bush and Vicente Fox took place Feb. 16 and was Bush's first foreign visit as U.S. president.
``Bush recognized and accepted that we can have a formula by which Mexicans can work legally in the United States and under the protection of U.S. laws,'' said Bishop Alvarado.
``This is a great advance, even though the mechanisms still have to be worked out,'' he said.
The two presidents agreed to establish a joint working group to develop plans to end violence against Mexicans in the United States and to expand the guest worker program allowing Mexicans to work in the United States for a stated period of time.
``Migration is a tie that binds us, not divides us,'' the presidents said in a joint declaration.
Bishop Alvarado said that regarding drug trafficking, Bush did not put the blame on Mexico but saw the problem as more complex, requiring greater shared responsibility in the struggle.
Bush said at a joint news conference after the meeting that ``the main reason why drugs are shipped through Mexico to the United States is because United States citizens use drugs.''
Bush added that ``our nation must do a better job of educating our citizenry about the dangers and evils of drug use.''
Bush said he also would support Mexican efforts to end the drug certification program by which Mexico annually must prove to the U.S. Congress that it is progressing in the fight against drug trafficking or face economic sanctions.
Mexican officials have said that this is degrading. Mexican officials also have complained about border violence against Mexicans saying that their human rights must be respected even if they are illegally in the United States.