U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual has resigned in the wake of complaints from Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Pascual will stay in Mexico City to help with the transition before returning to Washington for a new position in the State Department, Clinton said. He had held the post for 1 ½ years.
The ambassador resigned “based upon his personal desire to ensure the strong relationship between our two countries and to avert issues raised by President Calderon that could distract from the important business of advancing our bilateral interests,” Clinton said today in a statement. “It is with great reluctance that President Obama and I have acceded to Carlos’s request.”
The resignation follows Calderon’s repeated public protests over comments by Pascual contained in cables to the State Department released by WikiLeaks, in which Pascual expressed concern that Mexican security authorities weren’t sufficiently coordinated. Tensions between the U.S. and Mexico have risen over the causes and solutions for drug-related violence that killed 15,000 Mexicans last year.
Mexican officials often have cited the American demand for narcotics and gun smuggling from the U.S. as aggravating factors in the violence in their country.
In a Feb. 23 interview with the newspaper El Universal, Calderon called U.S. cooperation “notoriously insufficient.” He also said Pascual had hurt bilateral relations through his criticism.
Tensions between the two countries appeared to ease earlier this month, when Calderon praised President Barack Obama after a meeting at the White House. Obama pledged more help in Mexico’s fight against drug traffickers. The two leaders also agreed on a plan to resolve a longstanding dispute over allowing Mexican trucks in the U.S.
Clinton, in her statement, lauded Pascual as “an architect and advocate for the U.S.-Mexico relationship.”
“He has collaborated tirelessly with his Mexican counterparts,” Clinton said. She cited him for helping build a cross-border renewable energy market, and for building “a new border strategy to advance trade while staunching illicit flows.”
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