Bush Makes Border Pact With Mexico

The United States and Mexico on Friday signed a 22-point "smart border" accord that would bar entry by criminals and would-be terrorists while easing cross-border access for legitimate business.

The deal aims to speed border crossings for truckers and regular visitors by administering electronic toll tags. It will also use high-tech equipment for inspection systems, easing intelligence-sharing by both sides in order to keep out criminals.

At a news conference with Mexican President Vicente Fox late Friday, President Bush said the agreement epitomizes the "special relationship" America has with its neighbor to the south.

Their meeting came at the end of a 171-nation U.N. development summit in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey.

Bush urged world leaders at the U.N. International Conference on Financing for Development to demand political reform from poor countries in exchange for increased aid and warned that unchecked poverty can foster terrorism.

"We fight poverty because hope is an answer to terror," Bush said in a speech before those assembled at the conference.

The president outlined his proposal to link U.S. foreign aid to a country's ability to rid itself of corruption and walk a straight, narrow path to economic reform. He said he will ask Congress to put an extra $10 billion into core U.S. development assistance by 2006, and make money available to qualifying countries over the next year.

French President Jacques Chirac likened the campaign against poverty to the war against terrorism. "What can be done against terrorism can surely be done against poverty, in the name of a more human, manageable globalization," he said.

But, he said, poor nations are coming to understand that they can no longer expect development money without strings.

Bush directed his secretaries of State and Treasury to develop eligibility criteria, and promised those criteria would be applied "fairly and rigorously." He called for dispensing more aid in the form of grants rather than loans, arguing that a colossal debt burden keeps poor countries from healing their sick and educating their children.

Bush also advocated opening markets and lowering trade barriers, and expressed hope that a new global free-trade agreement would be reached as a means of alleviating poverty.

He noted that since the African Growth and Opportunity Act became law in May 2000, exports from African countries to the United States increased by 1,000 percent, generated thousands of jobs and leveraged nearly $1 billion in investment.

"When nations close their markets and opportunity is hoarded by a privileged few, no amount -- no amount -- of development aid is ever enough," Bush said. "When trade advances, there's no question but the fact that poverty retreats."

The president, on the second day of a four-day trip to Mexico, El Salvador and Peru, spoke in advance of a closed retreat of world leaders at an art museum. Later, Bush met with Fox to talk about border security, a U.S. effort to foster private business investment in Mexico's poorest areas and drug interdiction and migration issues.

Fox said Bush's foreign aid proposal was well-received. "We have heard from many leaders present, many heads of state, who truly expressed this was welcome information, a welcome announcement," Fox said. "The same goes for us. We are not a country that receives the help, but we understand there are countries that require this help to combat poverty."

Bush reported "good and steady progress" on speeding up the process of issuing immigrant visas. Legislation is pending in the Senate, and Bush said he hopes it will pass soon because "migrants make a valuable contribution to America" and the families back in Mexico who rely on them financially.

Bush started the day at a breakfast meeting with Chirac, discussing the latest wave of terrorist attacks that have shadowed the poverty-fighting work here. As they assembled, another suicide bomber struck in Israel, but neither president took questions from reporters as they stood before photographers, with a row of flags at their backs.

Bush said progress in the fight against poverty is within reach, but the battle will not be won unless wealthy nations insist upon an aid standard based on political liberty, respect for human rights and adherence to the rule of law.

"Pouring money into a failed status quo does little to help the poor. ... We must accept a higher, more difficult, more promising call," Bush said. "Liberty and law and opportunity are the conditions for development, and they are the common hopes of mankind."

While he did not refer directly to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Bush said recent experiences with terrorism demonstrate the need for rich nations to get serious about eliminating poverty.

"History has called us to a titanic struggle, whose stakes could not be higher because we're fighting for freedom itself," Bush said. "We will challenge the poverty and hopelessness and lack of education and failed governments that too often allow conditions that terrorists can seize and try to turn to their advantage."

Fox News' James Rosen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.