Mexican leader greets Clinton with a bearhug

February 15, 1999|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

MERIDA, Mexico -- With a new lease on his presidency, President Clinton basked in a warm reception here yesterday in the tropical capital of the Yucatan, where even raucous pre-Lent carnival celebrations were quieted in honor of his arrival.

The president was greeted with a bearhug by Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo at an airport festooned with Mexican and U.S. flags and a giant, illuminated sign that read "Bienvenidos a Mexico."

The affectionate welcome came even though the leaders are expected to address such thorny issues as drug policy and immigration during the one-day visit by Clinton.

While he did not come bearing huge gifts, the two men are expected to sign an agreement liberalizing air travel and another providing $4 billion in credit for Mexican importers of U.S. products over two years.

Mexico has emerged as the No. 2 importer of U.S. goods because trade to much of the world has stagnated amid the global economic crisis.

Pub Date: 2/15/99

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