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I am delighted to be in this vast metropolis, the cradle of the New World and now the largest city on earth. As a Californian and a Los Angeleno, I am particularly proud to be with you in this vital center of modern Hispanic culture in the Americas. This afternoon, I will visit one of Mexico's national treasures, the anthropology museum in Chapultepec Park. There, I will have a chance to reflect upon the richness of the pre-Columbian cultures that are part of the heritage of this nation.
An involvement with history comes with my job. When it is being made, I often can see it and feel it, and lend my hand. I had that privilege last Wednesday in another city of ancient greatness, Cairo. There, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to implement the Declaration of Principles that, we hope, will transform the war-torn Middle East. Thankfully, our task today is not a matter of war and peace. But I think that history will remember well the importance of the work we are undertaking here.
Earlier this morning, I joined members of President Salinas' Cabinet, along with several of my Cabinet colleagues, in opening the first Binational Commission meeting since NAFTA went into effect. Only with Mexico does the United States convene every year on such a basis. In that setting and in others, I have found that the quality of Mexico's leadership - its technical expertise and its political vision - is a match for that of any other nation in the world.
I am confident in saying today that relations between our nations have never been better, stronger, or more important.
We recognize that NAFTA is not just a turning point for free trade but a transforming event in the history of our relations. It is a platform for prosperity and a bridge to greater trade and investment throughout the Americas. For the United States, Mexico, and Canada, NAFTA represents a monumental decision to strengthen cooperation, widen integration in our hemisphere, and deepen our engagement in the global economy.
NAFTA reflects and reinforces the new reality in the Americas. The historic movement over the last decade toward democracy and economic liberalization has resulted in an unprecedented convergence of values and interests among Latin nations - and between them and the United States.
When I visited Latin America in 1977 as Deputy Secretary of State, most Latin countries were stagnating under military rule. Now, virtually every nation in the Americas …