Mexico City – The governments of Spain and Mexico agreed here Tuesday to jointly forge a "comprehensive regional strategy" for battling crime in Central America.
"It's an issue of enormous importance for Mexico, I would say for the region as a whole, and we are grateful that Spain once again demonstrates its commitment to our region and is participating in an enthusiastic, generous and active way in this process," Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa said at a joint press conference with visiting Spanish counterpart Trinidad Jimenez.
Since 2008, Spain has provided more than 150 million euros ($215 million) in bilateral and multilateral security assistance to Central America.
"The idea," Jimenez said Tuesday, is to "put together a comprehensive regional strategy that has the necessary international contributions, and that through this coordination those contributions can have the greatest possible beneficial effect."
Espinosa mentioned a recent meeting in Madrid that brought together nations and multilateral organizations prepared to help finance anti-crime initiatives in Central America.
The May 15 gathering in the Spanish capital produced a statement of principles and an action plan that is expected to be formally adopted during the June 22-23 Central American Security Conference in Guatemala.
Led by Spain and the United States, the Friends Group supporting the Central American process includes the nations of the region as well as Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Italy, the Netherlands and Finland, among others.
The World Bank, Organization of American States, Inter-American Development Bank and Ibero-American General Secretariat are likewise involved.
Jimenez's first visit to Mexico as foreign minister has bolstered bilateral cooperation "in the matter of security, seeking to augment mutual support in actions against drug trafficking and organized crime and in the anti-terrorist struggle," the Spanish government said in a statement.
In her comments to the press, Jimenez also stressed Spain's "very close" relationship with Mexico, a strategic partner that has received $38 billion in Spanish investment over the past 11 years.
"We have very solid links. They are historic links and ones that we have been updating, modernizing and consolidating over the course of these last few years," the Spanish foreign minister said.
Jimenez later met privately with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.