Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto said in an interview published here that his administration will step up efforts in South America to repair the country's image, including seeking a strategic alliance with Brazil.

"There's no question Mexico's image in the world has been tarnished in recent years and the boom in Brazil has been contrasted with Mexico's stagnation," Peña Nieto told Chile's La Segunda newspaper.

"(Along those lines), we'll look to develop a real strategic alliance with Brazil to deepen our relationship in all spheres," Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, said.

Peña Nieto said his administration will look to restore Mexico's leadership in the region through "effective dialogue, focusing on regional forums and even sub-regional mechanisms that deepen our links with countries in the area, such as the Alliance of the Pacific" comprising Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile.

Referring to last month's ouster of Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, the Mexican president-elect said that, although his impeachment trial was a constitutionally prescribed procedure, "there is a region-wide consensus that due process was not observed" in removing the leftist head of state from power.

In a June 22 impeachment process that took less than a day, the Paraguayan Senate found Lugo guilty of misfeasance for the events of June 15, when seven police and nine squatters were killed in a clash in the northeastern province of Canindeyu.

"The region's countries must give a concerted response to the current situation that expresses our solidarity with the people of Paraguay while at the same time contributing to strengthening their institutions," Peña Nieto said.

The president-elect said Mexico's foreign policy is a state policy based on basic principles of reciprocity and equality among nations and non-intervention.

"In that regard, we'll maintain the excellent level of understanding and friendship that exists among our brother nations," Peña Nieto said.

The president-elect has been invited by Chilean head of state Sebastian Piñera to visit that South American country before year's end.

Peña Nieto's victory in Sunday's presidential election returned the PRI to power after a 12-year absence. His party had dominated Mexico's politics for 71 years until 2000, a reign that Peruvian Nobel literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa described as the "perfect dictatorship."

Although many Mexicans remain suspicious of the party due to its corrupt past, the PRI was able to regain power in large part due to spiraling drug-related violence that has left more than 50,000 dead during the presidency of the National Action Party's Felipe Calderon, who took office in late 2006.

During that same period, Brazil's economy has grown at a faster clip than Mexico's and the country's state-controlled oil company made massive oil finds in deep waters of the Atlantic.

Mexican state oil monopoly Pemex, meanwhile, has seen production fall by a quarter from a peak of 3.4 million barrels a day in 2004 and the country could become a net energy importer in a decade unless it can boost production.

Peña Nieto supports a constitutional amendment to allow more foreign investment in the oil industry. EFE