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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Off-the-Cuff

Secretary-General's joint press statement with Mexican President Felipe Calderon

Mexico City, Mexico, 4 August 2008

Buenas tardes. Es un gran placer para mí estar en México.

As you know, this is my first official visit to your great country in my capacity as Secretary-General of the United Nations. But in the past, in my previous capacities, I have visited many times this beautiful country.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation for your very kind welcome and hospitality and extend my official gratitude for Mexico's overall cooperation with, and political and financial support to the United Nations.

Mexico ranks as the 10th largest contributor to the UN regular budget and the 23rd largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget, and I appreciate that.

One of my purposes for visiting Mexico at this time is to attend the International AIDS Conference, which I hope will be a great step forward in the fight against AIDS. It was an honor to attend yesterday's opening together with President Calderón.

It is a notable achievement that Mexico is the first country in Latin America to host an International AIDS Conference. In that regard, I commend Mexico and President Calderón for providing regional leadership in the response to this pandemic, which has been so devastating for so many people throughout the world.

I applaud your call, Mr. President, to combat all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and your strong call for an end to homophobia. I wholeheartedly welcome the plan that you announced last night to remove certain restrictions on access to the local pharmaceutical market, so that other laboratories from other countries will be able to introduce and sell medicines here, starting from antiretroviral medicines.

As you said, that will help achieve more competitive antiretroviral prices in Mexico. I commend your policy that all antiretroviral medications are to be offered to all those in need free of charge.

On climate change, I am heartened that the Mexican Federal Government has prioritized that issue to such an extent that it is a core element of the National Development Plan.

Mexico's ambitious and specific mitigation targets, addressing both energy and land use, are a clear expression of leadership that I hope will inspire other countries in the G5 and beyond. Mexico's far-reaching and integrated approach to adaptation is equally impressive.

Right now, climate change and the food crisis are hindering efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs. Progress in many countries is off track.

But I am pleased to see that Mexico has actually been able to set several new, ambitious targets, called “MDG plus” targets, which go beyond the original Goals.

In that regard, I am also pleased that President Calderón is coming to the high-level event on September 25 at the United Nations, which I and the President of the General Assembly are both chairing.

I commend Mexico on this achievement, but also urge the country to redouble action in those areas where new targets have not been possible, such as child malnutrition, maternal mortality, environmental sustainability and gender equality in political life.

At this time, I would also like to emphasize my sincere appreciation for the personal leadership of President Calderón. In the meeting we just had, I commended the President for his unwavering fight against organized crime.

I would like to reiterate that the UN is available to provide technical assistance in that regard, as required.

I also noted in our meeting that Mexico has exercised outstanding leadership on the promotion and protection of human rights at the international level. The first President of the UN's Human Rights Council, Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba, was from Mexico.

And the Mexican Government has signed a new agreement of cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, a development that I welcome.

President Calderón has also set a standard by signing a bill last year that effectively eliminates criminal penalties at the federal level for defamation. With freedom of expression being central to any democracy, I applaud the President's recent commitment to federalize crimes against journalists.

During our meeting, the President and I also discussed the situation in Haiti, where recent unrest and political instability have shown the fragility of the stabilization process. I would like to thank Mexico and President Calderón for their support to Haiti, in particular through its capacity as President of the Rio Group.

I also plan this afternoon to address a joint session of the Mexican Senate and Chamber of Deputies. This morning, I met with Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa; attended an Extraordinary Session of the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as OPANAL; and reached out to the Mexican business community through the UN Global Compact's Mexico network.

All in all, I am very much happy and pleased by this very successful visit to Mexico in my capacity as United Nations Secretary-General. I hope this is only the beginning of many more visits to follow.

Muchas gracias. Thank you very much.