President Vicente Fox called off a visit due later this month to US President George W. Bush's Texas ranch in protest at the execution of a Mexican citizen convicted of killing a Texas police officer.
The cancellation is "a show of unequivocal repudiation of the execution of Mexican Javier Suarez Medina," said a statement read to the press late Wednesday by presidential spokesman Rodolfo Elizondo.
Fox, the European Union and the United Nations had pressed Texas to commute Suarez's sentence to life in prison, as he had been denied access to consular advice, in violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic protocol.
During his August 26-28 visit to Texas, Fox was to have met with Bush at his ranch in Crawford, which is some 200 kilometers (125 miles) northwest of Huntsville, where Suarez was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday.
"However, it would be inappropriate under these lamentable circumstances to undertake this visit to Texas," Elizondo said.
Later, the White House responded to Fox's decision to cancel his visit with Bush, who before becoming president in 2000 was governor of Texas.
"We understand President Fox is unable to meet with President Bush while President Bush is in Crawford," said White House spokesman Jimmy Orr.
"President Bush respects President Fox's decision and the two have an excellent relationship and a strong friendship. It reflects the deep bond between the two countries," Orr said.
"President Bush looks forward to his next meeting with President Fox," he added.
Bush and Fox are next scheduled to see one another in October at a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), which this year will be hosted by Mexico at the port city of Los Cabos.
Suarez, 33, was executed for the 1988 murder of an undercover police officer in Dallas, Texas.
In his final statement, Medina expressed remorse, saying he wanted to regain internal peace after his death.
"First of all I would like to apologize to the members of the Cadena family for whatever hurt and suffering I have caused you," he said. "I pray through this execution, that you will find the peace you seek."
He thanked his own family for their support and urged his Mexican compatriots to show restraint.
"To all the people of Mexico, I would like to thank them for the help," Medina said. "I also want to carry each and everyone of you in my heart. If you are going to demonstrate I don't want you to do anything crazy to these people. They have suffered enough ... Raise the flag of Mexico with honor."
Suarez's appeals were exhausted Tuesday when the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected a plea to stay the death sentence. Under Texas law, Governor Rick Perry could only grant Suarez a 30-day reprieve for further court action or allow the execution to proceed.
The US Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition for a stay of execution signed by Mexico and backed by 13 other nations that said Texas, "should not be permitted to damage the United States' relationship with its allies (or) invite international condemnation."
The petition said the United States was bound to comply with a judgment of the International Court of Justice that US authorities must review and reconsider any sentences of foreign nationals who were deprived of their consular rights and sentenced to death.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson had similarly argued for clemency in a letter sent Tuesday to US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Robinson also said there were "serious concerns that the trial proceedings in the case of (Suarez) had not complied with international human rights standards."
Suarez' execution was the 20th this year in Texas -- which leads all US states in executions -- and the 40th in the country.
Later Wednesday, the state of Missouri carried out the country's 41st execution when it administered a lethal injection to convicted murderer Daniel Basile.
More than 3,500 inmates sit on death rows across the United States, 122 of
them nationals of 33 foreign countries.
© AFP 2002