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The First 100 Days: President Bush Turns Attention to Foreign Policy, Plans Trip to Mexico

Aired February 15, 2001 - 1:10 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: President George W. Bush is preparing for his first trip outside the country as president of these United States, but he's not going far. In a briefing, though, for reporters, the president said, "the best foreign policy starts at home."

Our coverage begins with CNN's Andrea Koppel over at the State Department to tell us about the president's first trip -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Lou, it's standing room only over in the main lobby here at the State Department as hundreds of State Department employees await the imminent arrival of President Bush. Expect to hear the president reiterate what Secretary of State Colin Powell said just a few weeks ago. That is, diplomacy is the United States' first line of defense.

In this post-Cold War world, it's no longer just military servicemen and women who are putting their lives on the line. The people in this building remember all too well what happened just about two and a half years ago in August of 1998 when 12 Americans and hundreds of Kenyans and Tanzanians lost their lives in the bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa. It's certainly a message that will resonate throughout this building.

Now, following President Bush's pep talk to the people in the lobby, he's going to go upstairs where he'll get a briefing on Mexico. The president due to travel to Mexico tomorrow. He, of course, knows the Mexican president, Vicente Fox, from his days as the governor, when Bush was governor in Texas and Fox was governor in Mexico. So the two men going to have their first get-together since both were inaugurated -- Lou.

WATERS: Andrea, we know that, as governor, George W. Bush had traveled to Mexico, which was a familiar place for him to meet with officials there. He was comfortable with it. But what went into the thinking of making Mexico his first trip as president of the United States when there are all these places in the world he could have gone?

KOPPEL: Absolutely. And a number of countries around the world, including our neighbors to the north, the Canadians, were disappointed to hear that President Bush would be making his first trip south.

But among the reasons President Bush decided to travel there, the fact that he will feel comfortable. He knows the president, Vicente Fox. And also the Mexican relationship is a very important one to the United States, Lou. They're the second largest trading partner for this country, as well as there are millions of Mexican immigrants who come here every year. So they'll have plenty to talk about -- Lou.

WATERS: OK, Andrea, we'll talk to you again.

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