Sarko and Bruni's Excellent Mexican Adventure

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Having been to Rio last December, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni are now in Mexico.

The visit, which started last Friday, has generated a fair amount of controversy since the couple started their stay in Mexico with two nights at a mansion in the exclusive resort of El Tamarindo. The mansion is owned by a friend of Mexican president Felipe Calderon. The UK's Mail estimates the cost of the stay at £45,000. As they did in Brazil, two naval vessels carried out patrols in the ocean, while helicopters flew overhead.

On Sunday, before the start of the official state visit, the couple toured Aztec ruins in Teotihuacán with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and his wife Margarita Zavala. Mexico's El Universal described the occasion as Calderón-Sarkozy: a meeting in the land of the gods, which contrasts with other tourists' annoyance at having the archeological site closed two hours ahead of schedule for the dignataries' photo-op.

The big story in both countries was the Florence Cassez case: Cassez was sentenced to sixty years in prison after having been arrested at her Mexican boyfriend's house. She claimed not to know that he was the leader of the Zodiacs kidnapping gang and that there were three hostages in the house. During Sarkozy's state visit on Monday the two governments announced that they would create a commission to study the case and make a report and recommendations in three weeks. This is a very sensitive case in Mexico because of increased public pressure to halt what is perceived as impunity by criminals in a country with the highest kidnapping rate in the world.

The trip was not simply a photo-op and an agreement on a legal issue. Sarkozy seeks to boost access of French companies to the region. During the state visit he addressed the Mexican Senate.

On the business front, Forbes and Bloomberg report

France’s security and defense company Thales will sign today a contract with Mexico City to develop a video-surveillance network aimed at curbing gang violence. Thales will jointly build the close-circuit television (CCTV) system with billionaire Carlos Slim’s Telmex Internacional SAB, according to French newspaper Le Monde.
France offered support in the fight against crime,

"We are ready to receive Mexican equipment in French police laboratories. We are willing to send equipment to Mexico.

"We would like to help Mexico resolve this problem which causes so much distress such as insecurity."

Additionally, EADS will open a helicopter plant in Mexico. Six helicopters will also be used on the battle against drug traffic, but the plant's market will be other countries in the hemisphere.

The main subject of the discussion during the state visit was the upcoming G20 summit and the countries' response to the global economic crisis.

As the US apparently rethinks its NAFTA commitments, Mexico and France are not sitting still and are finding common ground. Mexico clearly wants to diversify its trade, 80% of which currently is with the US.

In other French news: Thursday Sarkozy announced that France is to return to NATO's military command.

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