MERIDA, Mexico -- Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto says his country is proud of its relations with the Caribbean, with which it has "a shared vision of development and unity."

President Enrique Pena Nieto

He made the declaration ahead of Tuesday's opening of a historic "double summit" of Caribbean and Latin American leaders of states belonging to the Association of Caribbean States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

His country holds the presidency of the ACS and the Mexican leader, as host, took the opportunity to explain his country's view of its relationship with "the Greater Caribbean", as well as to outline some of the issues to be discussed when the Latin American and Caribbean leaders meet for two days of talks on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Mexican city of Merida.

According to Pena Nieto, "Mexico has close historical and cultural ties with the Caribbean nations."

He described the nature of the ties as "bonds that fill us with pride."

In a statement on his country's relationship with its Caribbean neighbours entitled "A Shared Vision of development and Unity", the Mexican leader said, "The Caribbean Sea is our common heritage and holds a strategic value of the utmost importance to Mexico."

He also said the Caribbean was "Our gateway to other regions of the world, and a vital space for our daily interactions with sister nations."

"This is why," he explained, "the Mexican government's foreign policy on the Greater Caribbean promotes an agenda of cooperation in various issues of common interest, including environmental protection, health, education, integrated disaster risk management, and the eradication of poverty, to mention a few."

"Over the last ten years," said the Mexican president, "the nations in the Caribbean have made significant progress in building up their economic growth and development."

As a consequence, he noted, "The opportunities to multiply and strengthen our political and economic ties are enormous and will allow us to work together in creating better conditions for our societies."

"It is with this conviction," he explained, "that my government is promoting both bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the Greater Caribbean."

Directly addressing the Caribbean's leaders and people, the Mexican president said, "We would like your countries to receive resources from the Infrastructure Fund for Mesoamerican and Caribbean countries established in the Yucat�n Agreement."

In addition to infrastructure support, he said, "technical and scientific cooperation between Mexico and the Caribbean countries continues to be wide-ranging and diverse, and includes initiatives to promote agricultural and social development, energy, mining, the environment, and small and medium enterprises."

This year, the Association of Caribbean States is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and the Mexican president said it offered "an opportune moment to further strengthen its position."

He explained that "This fact, coupled with the need for more flexible and effective collaboration mechanisms to help us respond to our current challenges," is what led Mexico to be the host of two meetings starting on Tuesday: the third Mexico-CARICOM summit and the sixth summit of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) in M�rida, Yucat�n, on April 29 and 30, respectively.

According to the Mexican president, the two meetings "are relevant to our relationship with the Caribbean."

During the Mexico-CARICOM summit, he said, the leaders "will assess compliance with the actions established in the 2012-2013 scientific-technical cooperation program, and propose mechanisms to encourage dialogue and strengthen our joint efforts in this area, as part of the 2014-2015 program.

Mexico holds the presidency of the ACS, and according to Pena Nieto, under his watch, "Mexico has worked on revitalizing the Association of Caribbean States to provide the Greater Caribbean with a space to solve common problems."

He went on to identify the "common problems" as: "comprehensive disaster risk management (including weather events associated with climate change), improving interconnectivity in the region, facilitating trade, and creating synergies for sustainable tourism."

The Mexican host said he hoped the two M�rida summits "will help the Caribbean further strengthen its integration process, under a clear vision for development and unity."

He pledged that beyond Mexico's presidency of the ACS, "as Mexico's president", he will strive to "continue to work with my peers in the Greater Caribbean, to make sure this vision leads to greater economic and social prosperity for all of our nations."