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Obama To Meet Calderón, Harper

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By Cheryl W. Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 9, 2009

President Obama travels to Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sunday for a two-day meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss global economic recovery, climate change and the ongoing drug wars in Mexico that have cost more than 12,000 lives in less than three years.

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The North American Leaders' Summit is to kick off with a bilateral meeting Sunday night between Obama and Calderón that is expected to focus on Mexico's drug cartels.

"A great deal of this discussion will hinge on drugs and thugs," said a Mexican government official familiar with the agenda for the closed-door meetings. "The fight that is taking place in Mexico today against drug trafficking is not going to be pretty, and it's not going to be simple, and it's not going to be done overnight."

This will be Obama's second visit to Mexico since taking office. He traveled to the country in April to pledge his support for Calderón's efforts to halt the drug trade, which includes the flow of U.S.-made weapons across the border.

"What affects our bordering neighbors has the potential to affect us all, so we want to be certain that we have the tightest, best possible cooperation," said James L. Jones, Obama's national security adviser. "I think . . . we have to do everything we can to be a helpful neighbor and partner, to make sure that we are successful in this."

Mexico has complained that U.S. aid, including training and equipment, is not getting to the country quickly enough. Only a fraction of the $1.4 billion U.S. aid package known as the Merida Initiative has been spent. And helicopters and other promised equipment have not been delivered.

The three leaders also are expected to discuss what their countries are doing collaboratively to deal with the H1N1, or swine flu, virus this fall and how to ensure that officials are working closely with public health departments.

"The leaders are going to ensure that we are all talking to one another, that we are moving forward and that we have a strategy to deal" with swine flu, said John O. Brennan, Obama's deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism and homeland security.

The trilateral meetings are also scheduled to address clean energy, climate change and ways to improve North American competitiveness.

"The summit is going to be a step in the continuing dialogue from which agreements will undoubtedly come," Jones said.


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