At a news conference Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder wanted to discuss the gains the U.S. and Mexico have made in their joint fight against drug trafficking.
But the first few minutes of his question and answer session with the news media were taken up by queries about the killing of a 14-year old Mexican teenager by a U.S. Border Patrol agent earlier in the week.
It was an example of how an unforeseen violent incident can upstage the best planned agenda in Washington.
While the shooting — one version of events has it that the teen was shot after throwing rocks at a Border Patrol agent trying to detain an illegal border crosser — has added to the rockiness of U.S.-Mexico relations, Holder tried to focus everyone's attention on the bigger picture, that the two countries need each other.
Here's part of Holder's exchange with reporters:
REPORTER: General Holder, how do you think this high-level
cooperation between Mexico and U.S. in the struggle against the
violence and the cartels cannot be having problems due to the
incidents, like the shootings at the border, that we have seen
ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, first let me express our sincere regrets
about the loss of life for that 14-year-old youngster. That was
There is a bond that exists between Mexico and the United States.
We have shared interests. I think that is what we focus on and that
is what will continue to keep this relationship strong.
The efforts that are made south of the border in Mexico help us here in the United States. We think that what we have done today with regard to
dismantling the transportation capability of the cartels in the United
States will help Mexico, as well. And so we have a shared interest,
and those shared interests, I think, will keep the relationship
REPORTER: Is there any investigation to find out exactly what happened
and the circumstances in which the two incidents resulted in deaths?
ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Yeah, the FBI has these matters under investigation.
REPORTER: Along that subject, Mr. Attorney General, what was your
reaction when you heard about the age of the young man who died? And
then secondly, there are reports that the Mexican authorities showed
up and presented their weapons as the — (off mike) — left the scene.
And how do you deal with the tension that has resulted from this
ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, the matter that's under investigation,
as I said in response to the initial question, we do regret, you know,
the loss of life. The matter is under investigation, and we'll have
to determine exactly what happened; who, if anyone, should be held
responsible; what the circumstances were for the shooting. And all
that is just a part of this ongoing investigation.