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The new democratic government of Mexico is eager to strengthen ties with Japan and promote cultural exchanges between the two countries, the Central American country’s new ambassador to Japan said Monday.

“As new ambassador of the new Mexican democratic government, my number one task in Japan is to promote links (between the two countries),” Carlos De Icaza, whoDe Icazaassumed the post in March, said in an interview with The Japan Times.

The new Mexican government under President Vincent Fox, who put an end to the 71-year rule of The Institutional Revolutionary Party, is very much committed to human rights, democracy and business promotion, he said.

De Icaza stressed the importance of Mexico’s economic relations with Japan, saying, “Practically, 90 percent of our economic relationship with Asia is in Japan.”

Japan is Mexico’s third-largest trading partner, with 400 Japanese-affiliated firms operating in the country, he said.

The new ambassador expressed his hope to establish a free-trade agreement between the two countries to help enhance economic relations.

De Icaza also promoted the idea of an exchange of people and culture between the two countries, saying the Mexican tourist office in Japan will reopen this year, providing Japanese with more information about the country.

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