By GEORGE GEDDA
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON- Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said Tuesday his government is working with the United States and Canada toward common approaches on security and other issues, steps that he said could eventually require each country to surrender a portion of their national sovereignty.
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Derbez acknowledged the process could some day entail "hot pursuit" for criminal suspects across borders.
Because of concerns over sovereignty infringements, Derbez said there are "many people in each country" who are not ready to embrace the reforms.
The three countries are seeking to build on the North American Free Trade Agreement through a "Security and Prosperity Partnership" that would expand ties further, he said.
The proposal was first discussed at a March summit of U.S., Canadian and Mexican leaders in Texas. It has since received scant public attention.
Initially, Derbez said, the three "thought that trade would be the only thing that would make a difference but we realized that we have to go beyond trade."
He said all three are discussing common policies on security, aviation, maritime and intelligence issues and on natural disasters. He noted Mexico was one of the countries that provided humanitarian assistance after Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast last month.
Derbez spent Monday in meetings at the United Nations and planned a series of meetings here on Tuesday with government officials and congressional leaders.
He also was laying the groundwork for a meeting in Washington next month of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Council, a cabinet-level forum.
Some of the discussions Tuesday, Derbez said, were focusing on the steps Mexico has been taking to deter cross-border illegal immigration. His purpose is to improve the political climate here for proposed reform legislation that would give legal status to many Mexicans living north of the border without proper documentation.
Derbez described as positive the overall U.S. relationship with Mexico. Considering that two-way trade is now in excess of $250 billion (euro206 billion) a year, the number of trade-related irritants are few, he said.