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Mexico plans to assist Mexicans stranded by Katrina in U.S.

MEXICO CITY—Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said Friday that Mexico plans to send 15 trucks with food and medicine to Louisiana and Mississippi to help victims of Hurricane Katrina if the United States agrees.

Derbez said the government believes as many as 140,000 Mexicans, many undocumented workers, may have been affected by the hurricane and will send as many as 45 consular officials to the United States to help displaced Mexican citizens find shelter. In addition, Derbez said the government sent its Houston consulate the equivalent of $200,000 for immediate needs.

Meanwhile, Mexico's state-owned oil monopoly, Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, the world's third largest producer of crude oil, said it expects its refinery customers in Louisiana to cancel purchases under "act of God" clauses in their contracts because of hurricane damages.

Pemex said the crude would probably be sold instead to Europe.

Resumption of normal shipments to Louisiana could take a month or more, but a spokeswoman said the hurricane would not have significant impact on Pemex exports because most of its Gulf shipments go to Texas. Mexico's offshore oil and gas platforms were not damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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