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U.S. senator calls for integrated, powerful Western Hemisphere

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate Robert Menendez on Tuesday called on countries of the Western Hemisphere to do more to make the region the strongest place in the 21st century.

On the eve of the Seventh North American Leaders' Summit to be held in the Mexico city of Toluca, Menendez met with reporters in Mexico City on the relationship between the United States and Mexico as well as the Latin America.

The upcoming meeting of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), said the senator.

Hailing the agreement as successful, Menendez said "it's the perfect time to do more...to make the Western Hemisphere the most competitive and strongest in the world."

He made it clear that the regional integration will not only cover trading but also other areas such as education, science and technology, to ensure prosperity in the next 10 to 20 or 50 years.

"We need to have measurable goals that may lead to a paradigm of growth in the hemisphere and double the level of infrastructure in Latin America, and we can start here with Mexico," he said.

He stressed that his country is interested in this Latin American country to help "create an investment in future infrastructure needs, because if Mexico could achieve its goals, the U.S. would achieve too."

He insisted that as strategic partners, the United States and Mexico can also work together in other areas such as energy, in which the two countries "could have companies that will improve hydrocarbon production, energy security and integration."

"When a country grows 1 percent, its neighbor automatically grows half percent...the U.S. has been blessed with great neighbors, and the more we work, the more growth we will see," he concluded.

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