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Ties That Bind: Mexico’s President Visiting California

An address to hundreds of Mexican and Mexican-American leaders was at the top of the itinerary for Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto during his two-day visit to California starting Monday.

His first stop on the visit made at the invitation of California Gov. Jerry Brown was Los Angeles, where he was to talk to the leaders at the Millennium Biltmore.

The Mexican Embassy in Washington, D.C., said on its website that his visit is "intended to strengthen ties between Mexico and California state officials, renew Mexico's commitment to Mexican communities abroad, and promote business opportunities." Mexico is California's largest export market.

On Tuesday, Brown was to host a luncheon in the president’s honor in Sacramento. Peña Nieto was scheduled to then address the Legislature at the state Capitol. Brown visited Mexico last month.

The embassy said in a statement that the visit "is part of a new stage of cooperation with California," developed from visits between officials at various levels. California shares a 140-mile border with Mexico.

According to Pew Research Center, about 11.95 million Latinos of Mexican origin lived in California in 2010, with 4.3 million born in Mexico and 7.7 million born in the U.S. California's Latinos of Mexican descent made up 36 percent of the U.S. Hispanic population at the time. More than 14 million Latinos live in California.

Peña Nieto's visit comes just after a 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit California's Napa Valley Sunday. The Mexican government said in a statement that the country's consulates are ready to offer assistance to the Mexican community in the area.

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_ Includes material from The Associated Press