Obama in Mexico for North American Summit

10 August 2009

President Barack Obama, left, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon shake hands as they meet in Guadalajara, Mexico
President Barack Obama, left, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon shake hands as they meet in Guadalajara, Mexico
U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in Mexico for the North American Leaders Summit. Mr. Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon will attempt to coordinate their efforts on a number of issues.

This is President Obama's second trip south of the border in less than four months.

When Mr. Obama visited Mexico City in April, one of his aides became sick and returned home. The aide recovered, but the illness was part of the worldwide outbreak of H1N1 swine flu.

Mexico received global praise for its handling of the situation, and the United States and Mexico cooperated closely to limit the spread of the virus.

Worries about an anticipated resurgence of swine flu in North America later this year is expected to be an urgent topic at the summit.

John Brennan, U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, says that while in Guadalajara, the three North American leaders will prepare to take their cooperation a step further. 

"What President Obama is going to be doing at the summit is to be working with President Calderon and Prime Minister Harper to discuss what we are doing collaboratively to deal with the challenge, making sure that our public health departments and officials are working closely together," he said.

The North American leaders are also expected to focus on their region's economic woes.

Mr. Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs and Development, Michael Froman, says the three leaders will share ideas on bolstering the regional and global economies.

"They are likely to discuss what needs to be done to assure a shared recovery and to reform the international financial institutions, and to lay the foundations for future growth," he said.

On trade issues, Froman says the Obama administration is working to ease global concerns about the "Buy American" provision that requires many of the public works projects paid for by the U.S. economic stimulus plan use materials made in the United States.

"We are in dialogue with Canada and our other trading partners about the issue to try and implement the "Buy American" provision in a way consistent with our international obligations, while minimizing disruption to trade," he said.

The flow of illegal drugs and the violence associated with it is a concern throughout North America. U.S. National Security Advisor General James Jones says the United States will continue to work closely with the Mexican government as it fights an often bloody battle against the drug syndicates.

"The Calderon government has, in fact, performed very courageously in the face of these cartels and I think, we think, that we have to do everything we can to be a helpful neighbor and partner to make sure that we are successful in this," he said.

Sunday evening's agenda includes a one-on-one meeting between Mr. Obama and his Mexican host, followed by a working dinner and a cultural event for all three leaders. Presidents Obama and Calderon, and Prime Minister Harper are scheduled to meet on Monday before the summit concludes.

No concrete action is expected from these meetings, but General Jones says, "You get in trouble when you wait too long before talking to your neighbors."