(MENAFN - AFP) Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto said on Monday that he wanted to help Spain overcome its economic crisis and encouraged Spanish business to invest in his country.
"I want to talk to (Spanish) officials and share with them our country's interest in offering its support and solidarity," Pena Nieto said during a meeting with heads of Spanish companies in Madrid.
Pena Nieto, a 46-year-old lawyer who will officially take office in early December, spoke several days after ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Spain to BBB- from BBB, just one level above "speculative" or "junk" grade debt. It cited a deepening recession with one-quarter of workers unemployed, mass protests and growing political friction between Madrid and Spain's debt-struck regions.
But on Monday, European Union economics chief Olli Rehn struck an optimistic note, saying Spain was making progress in tackling its debt problems.
Pena Nieto flew from Berlin, where he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, for a 24-hour Madrid visit during which he held talks with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and attended a dinner given by King Juan Carlos.
"I came to show my confidence in Spain and I'm sure that a deeper exchange and a broader economic relationship between Mexico and Spain will promote Spain's getting out of this difficult time," Pena Nieto told reporters after meeting with Rajoy.
"Economic cooperation, which we can stimulate, a greater presence of Mexican investments in Spain -- I believe that this could accelerate the recovery process that Spain requires," he added.
Spain is Mexico's second largest investor after the United States, having already poured more than 45 billion (35 billion euros) into the North American country's economy.
Pena Nieto called on Spanish CEOs to invest in Mexico's energy sector,in particular, as he would like there to be more private participation, even if the state wants to maintain a majority stake in the country's oil.
Pena Nieto is due in London on Tuesday to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron before wrapping up his European tour with a two-day visit to Paris on Wednesday.
He will begin his six-year term as president on December 1, marking the return of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) to the nation's highest office after a 12-year absence. PRI ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000.