Bush calls Mexico's Fox ahead of inauguration
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Republican George W. Bush, who has declared himself president-elect of the United States, on Tuesday called the incoming Mexican president, Vicente Fox, to congratulate him on his upcoming inauguration.
Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said the Texas governor, who on Sunday declared victory despite legal challenges that remain in the disputed U.S. election, phoned Fox, who will end 71 years of single-party rule in Mexico when he is inaugurated on Friday.
"They spoke half in Spanish and half in English," said Fleischer, who gave no further details of the conversation.
He said Bush would not attend the inauguration.
Bush's only foray into foreign territory during the presidential campaign was a brief stop at a Mexican border town, where he stood alongside outgoing Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo and pledged to broaden trade with Latin America.
Fox, who met with Bush and his rival, Democrat Al Gore, during the U.S. campaign, won Mexico's general election in July, ending the 71-year rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) with promises to crack down on government corruption, create jobs and raise living standards.
During the campaign Bush announced a series of proposals for Latin America, including $100 million in loans to foster small businesses, a $100 million plan to exchange debt reduction for the protection of tropical forests, and an "American fellows" program under which Latin Americans would work for a year in agencies of the U.S. government.
He has also said he would promote the role of U.S. charities and relief organizations in the region, maintain economic sanctions on Cuba, seek special negotiating authority to strike speedier trade deals with nations in the Western Hemisphere and establish a free-trade area for the Americas.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will represent the United States at Fox's inauguration.
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