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Briefs (left)

Name-Calling Erodes Ties
Between Fox and Chavez

By James C. McKinley Jr.


Diplomatic relations between Mexico and Venezuela fell apart Monday after President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela refused to apologize for remarks about President Vicente Fox of Mexico.

The two heads of state have been at loggerheads since this month’s Summit of the Americas in Argentina, where Fox defended an American-backed proposal for a free-trade zone throughout the Americas as Chavez declared it dead. Violent protests against the idea raged in the streets of Mar del Plata, Argentina, during the talks.

The rift between Mexico and Venezuela reflects a wider gap between Canada, the United States and Mexico on one side and Latin American left-wing leaders, who have rejected President Bush’s call for more free trade, preferring to strengthen their trade ties with China and the European Union. The presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay have taken a stand similar to that of Chavez.

Fox, a conservative, has been Bush’s most outspoken ally in the effort to revive the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, standing up to the other large countries during the summit meeting. He has accused Argentina’s left-leaning president, Nestor Kirchner, of pandering to opinion polls and suggested that Chavez was divorced from reality.

U.S. Urges China to Open
Markets Further

By Keith Bradsher


Senior U.S. officials exhorted China on Monday to open its markets further, but also asked for its help in breaking an impasse in global trade talks, displaying a combination of demands and pleas that increasingly characterizes the relationship between the two countries.

In speeches and interviews here just six days before President Bush arrives in Beijing, both Rob Portman, the U.S. trade representative, and David A. Sampson, the deputy secretary of commerce, repeated previous demands for China to protect American copyrights, trademarks and patents, and that more American companies be allowed to compete in China’s domestic market.

But Portman said he had also urged senior Chinese officials to become more active in World Trade Organization negotiations to produce a new global trade pact.

The demands for changes to Chinese domestic policies coupled with a request for Chinese help in WTO negotiations shows how the Chinese-American economic relationship is becoming as complex as the two countries’ security relationship.

Chirac to Ask for Extension
Of Crisis Rules to Combat Riots

By Craig S. Smith


President Jacques Chirac, addressing his country for the first time since unrest broke out, said that he had asked Parliament to extend a national state of emergency to February and that he would set up a program that would provide jobs and training for 50,000 youths by 2007.

The president, stressing respect for the law and the need to recognize the diversity of French society, acknowledged that the past two weeks had been proof of a “profound malaise” in the country, calling it a “crisis of identity.”

“We’ll respond by being firm, by being just and by being faithful to the values of France,” he said.