PM set for talks with Mexico leader


Published: Wednesday 4th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Prime Minister David Cameron is to raise concerns over human rights when he holds talks with the Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto.

The Latin American leader will head to Downing Street for a bilateral meeting on the second day of his state visit.

Mr Pena Nieto, who last night attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen, will also attend a business leaders’ breakfast meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Palace, meet Opposition leader Ed Miliband, and deliver the Canning Lecture at Lancaster House.

Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said: “You can expect the Prime Minister to raise concerns that have arisen with regard to human rights and the judicial system in Mexico.

“We have done so before and will continue to do that. We will do that in the spirit of collaboration that we have with the Mexican government and the Mexican authorities.”

Campaigners have been calling for Mexico to address the country’s upsurge in torture cases.

Amnesty International UK said the nation’s nine-year-long “war on drugs” has seen more than 100,000 killings and some 22,000 disappearances.

Mr Pena Nieto has faced public anger over the handling of the abduction and apparent murder of the 43 trainee teachers by corrupt police in league with gang members.

The students’ disappearance in Ayotzinapa in September sparked weeks of protests across Mexico against corruption and violence.

At a lavish white tie banquet in the Palace ballroom, the president and his wife Angelica Rivera – a former soap opera actress – joined the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal and the Duke of York to dine on a menu of noisettes of Windsor estate lamb and spiced chocolate torte.

Leading Hollywood actress Salma Hayek was among the 170 guests and seated between Chancellor George Osborne and Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service Sir Jeremy Heywood on the horseshoe-shaped table, which was decorated with gold candelabra and elaborate pink, red, purple and green floral displays.

Like first lady Ms Rivera, Oscar nominated actress Hayek, who was accompanied by her French billionaire husband Francois-Henri Pinault, began her career in a telenovela, or limited-run series.

Ms Rivera, who was seated between Philip and heir to the throne Charles, was dressed in a glamorous asymmetric off-the-shoulder scarlet floor-length gown.

She was previously more famous than her husband and starred in the hit Mexican soap opera Distilling Love. She is still known as La Gaviota – the seagull – the name of the girl she played in the show.

In an address at the start of the banquet, the Queen paid tribute to the warm ties between the UK and Mexico.

“The United Kingdom and Mexico have enjoyed a long and enduring friendship,” the monarch said.

“We remain proud to have been the first European country to recognise Mexican independence where ties of family, friendship, commerce and international cooperation link us in so many ways.”

She described the two nations as “natural partners on many pressing issues in today’s international agenda”.

Highlighting the dual year initiative which celebrates the “Year of Mexico in the United Kingdom” and the “Year of the United Kingdom in Mexico”, the Queen added: “Mr President, your visit in this special year is most welcome. I am confident that it will strengthen the warm friendship between our two countries.”

Mr Pena Nieto, speaking in Spanish, used his speech to heap praise on the Queen.

“You, Your Majesty, have been a source of identity and unity to your people; you have been a key figure to reaffirm your nation as a global player,” he said.

His speech was followed by the national anthem and then a round of applause – something that may have pleased Mr Pena Nieto greatly.

He found himself mocked just a few weeks ago when he jokingly complained that reporters had greeted one of his announcements with silence.

#YaSeQueNoAplauden began to trend on Twitter after he turned away from the microphone at a February press conference and remarked “Ya se que no aplauden” or “I already knew they don’t clap”.

After a ceremonial welcome on Horse Guards Parade yesterday, the president and the first lady joined the Queen, Philip, Charles, Camilla, Andrew and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester for lunch in the Blue Drawing Room before going on to view an exhibition of Mexican items from the Royal Collection in the Picture Gallery.

Among the exhibits was an embroidered leather and wood horse saddle which was presented to Philip when the monarch and the Duke watched a display of horsemanship during a state visit to the Latin American nation in 1975.

The Duke patted the top of the saddle, which is engraved with the name “Principe Felipe” in his honour as he spoke to Ms Rivera through an interpreter.

At an exchange of gifts, the Queen gave the president a copy of a 17th century Adriaen van Diest painting of Buckingham House and a pair of silver framed photographs of herself and Philip. The first lady was given a Linley box.

Mr Pena Nieto will also attend a Banquet at the Guildhall in London this evening given by the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation.

Published: Wednesday 4th March 2015 by The News Editor

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