PHOTO: AZPM Staff
A view of Nogales, Ariz. and Nogales, Mexico.

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The new U.S. consul general in Nogales, Sonora began his tenure earlier this month and says he hopes to strengthen ties across the border and promote cultural exchange.

Christopher Teal is a career diplomat with previous stints at the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico and the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Christopher Teal, U.S. consul general in Nogales, Sonora.

He said he’s happy to be back in Mexico and hopes to increase cooperation across the border.

"I think a lot of people that live here in the region really do see one foot set on the Mexican side and the other in the American side… there’s a lot of ties between families and business," he said. "Nogales in particular is really positioned to take advantage of the commercial corridor that exists here."

Teal said travel warnings and advisories from the U.S. Department of State are a source of tension between the community of Nogales and the consulate. He hopes to establish cooperation in addressing security issues.

"One of my priorities is really expressing to the Mexican authorities the importance of maintaining security and maintaining strong law enforcement on their side…" he said. "And as they’re better to do that and maintain cooperation with law enforcement and officials north of the border, and as that improves it enhances security here...Americans will feel more comfortable about coming."

He aims to foster bi-national cultural exchange and allow for a better appreciation of the benefits of sharing a border.

"We really want to showcase American artists and culture in a unique way…and we have great partners in the U.S. like the University of Arizona…and enhancing those partnerships strengthens people-to-people exchanges, and in the end...makes both countries stronger," he said.

Teal will hold the position until 2017.