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Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari opened an official visit Tuesday and joined President Bush in promising expanded cooperation in combating cross-border drug smuggling.

With Bush standing at his side during a White House welcoming ceremony, Salinas declared that the two countries, working together, "can strike lethal blows against drug trafficking to free the world from that international scourge."In a similar vein, Bush said the United States and Mexico "must continue to strengthen our assault on the plague of drug use and trafficking. For we know that what threatens one nation in our hemisphere threatens us all."

The two presidents then presided over the signing of two agreements, one to promote U.S.-Mexico trade, and the other to provide U.S. assistance for combating pollution in Mexico City.

Bush said relations between the two countries have progressed since Salinas took office last December, citing advances in such areas as debt, trade, investment and the environment.

Salinas, speaking through a translator, said ways must be found to deal more humanely with the migration of Mexicans to the United States.

He also said the two countries must work toward a "new stage" in their trade relations.

Salinas is giving high priority to seeking trade concessions during his visit, but a U.S. official, responding to remarks Salinas made to reporters before leaving Mexico, disagreed with his contention that Mexico has difficulty penetrating American markets.

After the welcoming ceremony and a meeting with Bush, Salinas planned to attend a working lunch with Secretary of State James A. Baker III.