- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009


Antonio O. Garza Jr. spent his last day as U.S. ambassador to Mexico thinking about the great challenges President Obama will face in maintaining good relations with America’s southern neighbor.

Drug violence is raging along the U.S.-Mexican border, and some Mexicans are suspicious of Mr. Obama’s campaign pledge to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Act.

“The challenges are great,” Mr. Garza said Tuesday, as he watched Mr. Obama’s inauguration on television in Mexico City. “But I leave my position confident in the commitment and capabilities of the United States and Mexico.”

He referred to a meeting last week in Washington in which Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who developed close relations with President Bush, met privately with Mr. Obama.

“As we transition to a new administration in the United States, presidents Obama and Calderon have already met to discuss the hard questions they will face,” Mr. Garza said.

Mr. Garza, who four years ago married one of Mexico’s wealthiest women, beer heiress Maria Asuncion Aramburuzabala, plans to stay in Mexico City instead of returning to his native Texas to resume a promising career in Republican politics.

“You’re not going to see my name on a ballot,” he told the Houston Chronicle.

Mr. Garza received generally high marks for his service as ambassador.

“He did a good job,” Jorge Castaneda, a former foreign minister, told the Chronicle. “He was effective in communicating the U.S. government point of view in Mexico and was a good channel to the White House.”


American business leaders are bullish on Turkey, however they remain critical of high taxes, red tape and weak protection for patents and copyrights, the U.S. ambassador in Ankara says.

In a news magazine article on the new U.S. administration, Ambassador James F. Jeffrey wrote, “Barack Obama made change the hallmark of his campaign, but he also reaffirmed America’s long-standing commitment to open markets.”

Mr. Jeffrey cited a recent survey that found 76 percent of U.S. firms in Turkey believe they made a good investment in the country, 73 percent would encourage other companies to invest there and 67 percent plan further expansion.

“Those numbers represent a very strong vote of confidence in Turkish workers and the Turkish economy,” he wrote in BusinessWeek Turkey, adding, “American companies are bullish about doing business in Turkey.”

However, the ambassador urged the Turkish government to improve its business climate if it wants to attract greater foreign investment.

“Among the problems most often cited [by U.S. business executives] are the level of taxation and compliance burden, and the inefficiency and lack of predictability in the legal system, particularly with regard to intellectual property rights,” he said.

Mr. Jeffrey noted that Mr. Obama, in his election-night speech in November, reminded his supporters that Americans face challenges that are “the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.”

The ambassador added, “These challenges that we face are not America’s alone, and America cannot overcome them alone. Turkey and the United States are already working together to respond to the global economic crisis.”

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail .

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