Kerry begins 1st official visit to Mexico

Mexico City, May 21 (EFE).- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday kicked off his first visit to Mexico, where he presided over the launch of a bilateral higher-education, research and innovation forum aimed at boosting North American competitiveness.

Mexican counterpart Jose Antonio Meade also was on hand for the launch of the event, which is aimed at increasing student mobility, consolidating links among researchers and developing joint research and innovation projects.

An agreement to create the bilateral forum was signed during U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Mexico in May 2013, as part of efforts to bolster cooperation in the education sphere.

This "mechanism reflects the consensus of the academic, private and civil sectors of both countries to invest in the future competitiveness of North America," Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretariat said.

Actions plans aimed at promoting bilateral student and faculty exchanges and ties between universities and research centers in both countries will now be implemented, a high-ranking U.S. Department of State official said, adding that those initiatives were drawn up in recent months by six groups of experts.

Kerry and Meade will give a press conference at the headquarters of the Foreign Relations Secretariat after the event, which is closed to the media.

In addition to education cooperation and efforts to promote competitiveness at a time of U.S. economic recovery, Kerry and Meade also will talk about security and immigration issues, the State Department official said.

Among other activities, Kerry is scheduled to meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and take part in a green-technology event during his visit.