Thursday, March 26, 2009

President Arias heading to Mexico

(AP Photo/Kent Gilbert)By Patrick Fitzgerald
Tico Times Staff

President Oscar Arias begins a three-day state visit to Mexico Thursday, hoping to set the stage for a future bilateral agreement on free trade, political dialogue and cooperation.

Oh, and then there's something about a soccer game.

The visit, lasting through Saturday, is the third of Arias' current term as president. The two countries have many areas of common interest, including a 1995 free trade agreement and temporary, elected membership on the United Nations Security Council.

Arias will raise the issues of drug trafficking and organized crime, which have increasingly become a cause for concern in Mexico, Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno told the press earlier this week.

Perhaps of most interest to Ticos, however, is Saturday evening's World Cup Qualifying match between Costa Rica and Mexico, which Arias will attend with Mexican President Jose Calderon. Arias, along with his brother, Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias, will eat breakfast with the team earlier Saturday morning.

Before the game, however, Arias will attend to official business, including a bilateral meeting with Calderon at his official residence, a discussion with Mexican legislators and a breakfast with commercial leaders.

Also accompanying Arias on the trip will be Stagno, Foreign Trade Minister Marco Vinicio Ruiz and Gioconda Ubeda, Costa Rica's ambassador to Mexico.

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