WASHINGTON, Nov 12 – US President Barack Obama told Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Friday he was “shocked and saddened” by the death of Mexican Interior Secretary Francisco Blake Mora, the White House said.
Obama, who spoke to Calderon by telephone, “reinforced his commitment to the close partnership between the United States and Mexico in this difficult time,” said US National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes.
Blake, a key figure in the country’s bitter war on drug cartels, died in a helicopter crash near Mexico City on Friday, along with seven others, a government spokeswoman said in a televized address.
Obama “told President Calderon that he was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death” of the minister and the others, Rhodes told reporters aboard the US president’s official Air Force One airplane.
Obama “said that his thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were lost, with President Calderon and with the Mexican people,” he said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement called Blake “a valuable colleague and partner to the United States on security and many other issues.”
“He was committed to taking on the drug cartels that menace Mexican communities and to doing everything he could to protect citizens, prevent violence, end police corruption and bring criminals to justice,” she said.
Blake, 45, was the second interior secretary to die in an air accident during the presidency of Felipe Calderon, after Juan Camilo Mourino died in a small plane crash in Mexico City three years ago.