By Mica Rosenberg
The U.S. ambassador to Mexico has resigned, the State Department said on Saturday, after a public dispute with Mexican President Filipe Calderon over Mexico's handling of efforts to combat drug trafficking.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she and President Barack Obama had accepted Ambassador Carlos Pascual's resignation after a year and a half in his post
"It is with great reluctance that President Obama and I have acceded to Carlos's request," Clinton said in a statement.
The diplomatic spat arose after the website WikiLeaks published State Department documents showing embassy officials criticizing Mexican authorities' lack of coordination in operations targeting powerful drug cartels.
Calderon lashed out in an unusually critical newspaper interview with the daily El Universal on February 22, saying Pascual had shown "ignorance" about current events and distorted what was happening in the country.
The United States is providing millions of dollars in aid to Mexican security forces battling drug gangs and the two countries have long lauded their security cooperation and close economic ties.
"Carlos has relayed his decision to return to Washington based upon his personal desire to ensure the strong relationship between our two countries and to avert issues raised by President Calderon that could distract from the important business of advancing our bilateral interests," the statement said.