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Obama heading to Mexico for talks

May 02, 2013|By Kathleen Hennessey
  • President Obama waves from the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., as he boards a flight for Mexico.
President Obama waves from the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force… (Susan Walsh / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- President Obama on Thursday headed to Mexico City to talk trade, security and immigration as he navigates his relationship with his new Mexican counterpart.

The visit is Obama's first across the southern border since President Enrique Peña Nieto took office in December. Obama is slated to meet privately with Peña Nieto before holding a news conference Thursday afternoon.

"I'm going to be working to deepen our economic and trade relationships across Latin America, relationships that create jobs and growth here at home, and offer our businesses growing markets where they can sell more American-made goods and services abroad," Obama said in a Rose Garden appearance just before his departure.

The Mexican leader came to office promising broad reforms and a strengthened federal government, and at least one of those changes already has caused friction with U.S. officials. Peña Nieto's administration plans to curb U.S. involvement in Mexico's security operations, raising uncertainty about the future of the close cooperation between the two nations' law enforcement agencies. 

The White House is hoping to shift the focus of the meeting away from security and to potential economic growth in the region. Obama is expected to highlight hopes for growth at the news conference in Mexico City and again Friday morning in a speech to students.

From Mexico, Obama is to travel to Costa Rica for a meeting with Central American leaders.

The president's push for immigration reform is the backdrop for all of these meetings -- although administration officials are hoping foreign leaders make little news on the subject. Officials said Wednesday that they considered the subject a domestic, political issue and have discouraged commentary from Obama's foreign counterparts.

Peña Nieto has so far followed that guidance, one sign he is eager to establish a good relationship with the U.S. president.


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