WASHINGTON.-Yesterday U.S. president Barack Obama and the recent elected president of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto both pledged to strengthen the economic integration of the two countries, and also the bilateral cooperation to reduce violence and strengthen the border that these two both share.
At the start of a private meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Obama congratulated Peña Nieto for his victory last July, and said that Mexico currently is an important partner of the United States.
"Mexico has become not just an important bilateral partner today, but is also a multilateral and multinational leader in a wide range of important issues that go from energy to climate change, and we look forward to working with Mexico not only in regional affairs, but overall, "said Obama.
The U.S. leader reiterated the commitment of his administration to strengthen economic and trade ties with Mexico, as well as bilateral coordination on the border and the fight against drug trafficking.
Obama highlighted the "tremendous contribution" that Mexicans have had to the U.S. economy, society, and of the political life of the United States, while recognizing the interest of Mexico to achieve a comprehensive immigration reform, which has stalled in Congress since 2010 due to lack of consensus.
After being re-elected on November 6, Obama reiterated that he will begin to push for an immigration reform after taking office for a second term starting in January 2013.
As an example to show the level of priority that Mexico is to U.S., Obama mentioned that Vice President Joseph Biden will head the delegation to the presidential inauguration of Peña Nieto on Saturday, which according to the president is only reserved for "countries that are at the top of the list" for Washington.
Peña Nieto on his part made a proposal to Obama to "rethink" their bilateral relationship, so that there is an emphasis on trade and economic exchange.
Peña Nieto stressed that with a past as local legislators of both Obama and himself, they each now have "a great sensitivity to the problems that the people are currently facing" with the current slowdown of jobs at a global scale.
"I consider it to be convenient on rethinking our further integration in North America to achieve a more competitive region with the capacity to generate more jobs, and also strengthen North America and open spaces for a closer relationship with Asia, "said Peña Nieto.
He stressed the interest of his government to accelerate the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which in negotiations Mexico has been invited to participate in.
Although since the beginning of his campaign, Peña Nieto has sought out to reorient the bilateral relationship to the economic area more, but also recognizes that Mexico still faces challenges in security.
"My Government has a strong commitment to all Mexican citizens so we can reduce the violence, therefore I will be proposing a new strategy that will allow us to achieve that goal," he said.
Peña Nieto said that he plans to increase cooperation with the U.S. to "build modern and safer borders, which will allow us to be better integrated in North America."
Regarding Obama's efforts to push for an immigration reform, Peña Nieto said that rather than "to just come here and demand it," he wants for Mexico to have a role in this process.
"We want to help achieve this, and also see how we can support this important initiative" to legalize the undocumented population," and eventually reach an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, he stressed.
Peña Nieto's visit comes at a time when Mexico has reduced illegal immigration to the U.S. and drug-related violence in the country, whose economy also last year in 2011 grew faster than Brazil's.
According to "The Economist" the current trend of 2018 will be that the U.S. will import more from Mexico than from any other country, so now in the near future products will be labeled "made in Mexico" , which most likely will be found in many American supermarkets and stores.
Peña Nieto also held private meetings with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and the Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
He also met with the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, Harry Reid, and made statements to the press before traveling to Canada, where today he will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Video : Enrique Peña Nieto's visit with Barack Obama