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Mexico’s President Explains His Country’s Failure to Cast Vote in UN on Anti-israel Resolution

President Jose Lopez Portillo of Mexico explained to leaders of the American Jewish Committee visiting here that his country’s failure to cast a vote on the February 5 United Nations General Assembly resolution demanding punitive action against Israel should be regarded as an abstention because that was the intent.

The Mexican Ambassador to the UN was absent when the General Assembly voted to censure Israel for annexing the Golan Heights. Lopez Portillo said the Arab-sponsored resolution was not compatible with Mexico’s principles, and noted that the Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a statement at the time making this clear.

He stressed that Mexico’s relationship with Israel continues to be one of “constant friendship and understanding.” Any differences expressed at international forums, Lopez Portillo observed, should be viewed in the light of a disagreement between friends, “a right and mature relationship.” He also emphasized the friendship of his Administration, and himself personally, toward Mexico’s 50,000-member Jewish community.

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE PRAISES JEWISH COMMUNITY

The AJCommittee’s Board of Governors met the President for 50 minutes in the course of their week-long mission to Mexico. They also met with Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado, leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party who is the leading candidate for the Presidency in the elections next July 4. He pledged that if elected he would seek to enhance Mexico’s “already excellent relations with Israel” through the further development of technical and economic agreements.

Madrid Hurtado expressed particular warmth toward the Mexican Jewish community, praising its cultural, technological and scientific contributions to the nation. He is presently Mexico’s Minister of Planning and Budget.

The AJCommittee delegation was headed by the chairman of its Board of Governors, Howard Friedman of Los Angeles. The various meetings were also attended by Sergio Nudelstejer, who heads the AJCommittee office established in Mexico City 16 years ago and is also Secretary General of the Central Board of Mexican Jewry.

The purpose of the AJCommittee mission was to gain first hand impressions of the changing Mexican Jewish community and to discuss joint action programs dealing with Mexican Jewish relationships and with youth groups. The delegation met with the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, John Gavin, and with the Israeli Ambassador.

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