New Mexican Leader,
Canadian PM Agree: No
North America Monetary Union
OTTAWA (AFP) - Mexican President-elect Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien on Tuesday ruled out any suggestion that their two countries would join a new North American monetary union.
Chretien also rejected past suggestions by Fox that Canada, Mexico and the United States should work toward transforming the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into a European Union-style relationship.
"We have our own currency in Canada and we intend to keep the currency," Chretien said at a joint news conference with Fox, who arrived here Tuesday for the start of a two-day visit in the country.
The 15-nation EU has evolved into a monetary, political and customs union in which the participating member states have essentially surrendered national sovereignty in a number of key areas.
Fox, although avoiding the broader aspects of an EU-style arrangement, insisted "we are not proposing a common currency ... nobody has promised anything related to a common currency."
Asked about Fox's broader idea for an EU-type development, Chretien said: "I do not believe this can be done in the coming years."
The two men appeared to have a good rapport at the conference with Chretien pointing out that, for most of their hour-long meeting, they talked without any aides being present.
Fox said he briefed Chretien on recent democratic developments in his country.
On human rights, Fox said he welcomed the opportunity meet with Canadian activists in Toronto on Wednesday and his belief was that "criticisms, comments and observations will always be welcome."
"We will have a dynamic policy of protecting human rights," he insisted.
"We have a democratically elected government in Mexico for the first time in our history. This will give us the moral authority we need."
Asked whether Mexican political exiles, including those who have settled in Canada, would be welcome back when his government takes office, Fox replied: "There will not be any political exiles leaving under my government. There will be no reason.
"We will have an open government."
Those who have left the country for political reasons, he said, would be welcome to come back, but he added: "Those who have legal problems will have to resolve their problems with the judiciary."
Following his visit in Toronto Wednesday, Fox will head to the United States for meetings with US leaders.
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