President Obama will meet with the leaders of Mexico and Canada on Monday, with the three expected to discuss a broad range of issues.
Obama arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, Sunday evening for the day and a half of talks with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. They are not expected to make any major announcements. In the days leading up the North American Leaders’ Summit, officials said the trio would discuss the economy, drug violence and the environment. They are expected to hold a joint news conference at 12:30 p.m. ET Monday. “The themes of this summit are: one, economic recovery and competitiveness; two, citizen safety and security; and three, clean energy and climate change. All are core priorities of this administration,” Gen. James Jones, U.S. national security adviser, said before the summit. More than 4,000 policemen and soldiers were maintaining a security perimeter around the building where the meetings were to take place. An issue expected to lead the talks is the economy, as the U.S. economic downturn has affected its neighbors.
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In May, Mexico announced that its gross domestic product had shrunk by 5.9 percent in the first quarter. Exports to the United States and the rest of the world, a key component of Mexico’s GDP, were down considerably because of decreased global demand, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. Canada has complained about “Buy American” provisions in parts of the U.S. economic stimulus package, which it says can harm trade between the two partners. Harper is likely to raise the topic during talks. The summit follows one of Mexico’s deadliest months in its fight against drug cartels. More than 10,000 people, including more than 1,000 police officers, have been killed since Calderon began an offensive against the cartels in 2006. Reports of human rights abuses by soldiers fighting the drug traffickers have recently attracted attention in the United States, and about $1 million of counternarcotics aid could be withheld as a result. Calderon also is expected to press the issue of long-stalled permission for Mexican trucks to roll on U.S. highways, officials said. Despite a stipulation in the North American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. officials have not allowed Mexican trucks into the United States. Congress last year canceled a pilot program, and Mexico retaliated with $2.4 billion in tariffs on select American products. “The bottom line is that what affects our bordering neighbors has the potential to affect us all, so we want to be certain that we have the tightest and best possible cooperation,” Jones told reporters.