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Obama, Calderon Assess Drug War, Economy and a ’21st Century Border’

In a news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, President Obama praised a “new era of respect, cooperation and partnership between our two countries,” pointing to the “strong bond between our two societies.”

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President Obama called Mexico a key economic partner, and said the two nations should work to expand trade. “Remember, Mexico is the second-largest market for American exports,” he said. “It supports some one million American job.”

The president also said the two countries are working on a “21st century border,” to make the passage of good and people more fluid and safe.

Referring to the violent drug war that has dominated headlines in recent years, President Obama said “we’re also deepening our cooperation against the drug cartels that threaten both our peoples…President Calderon and the Mexican people have shown extraordinary courage in the fight for their country.”

He said Mexico has a reliable partner in the U.S. when it comes to training, equipment and other aid. “Whether they live in Texas or Tijuana, our people have a right to be safe in their communities,” he said. He also thanked Calderon for a swift response to the shooting death of U.S. agent Jamie Zapata.

“We are focused on reducing the demand for drugs,” President Obama said, pointing out education and enforcement programs to lessen the U.S. demand that has fueled the drug war.

For his part, President Calderon said he was happy to see that the two countries “agree on the basic principle of co-responsibility,” and that the two governments had “progressed substantially” on key areas of cooperation, including opening new border crossings and ongoing dialogue in the bilateral relationship. “Mexico and the United States are authentic, strategic partners,” he said.

“Both President Obama and I agree we must turn this area into the land of opportunities, not conflict,” he said, echoing President Obama’s statements on an economically active border.

President Calderon also praised high levels of trade and job creation, saying he hoped “North America in its entirety (would be) the most competitive region in the world.”

He also hailed law enforcement cooperation, and thanked President Obama for recognizing the sacrifices Mexico has had to make to fight crime and drug trafficking. “Thousands of military officers and members of the police force have died in Mexico; they’ve falling in the line of duty,” and added recognition of Zapata’s death.

“This opportunity represents for me a chance to strongly renew our efforts and to redouble our efforts to accomplish the security that our peoples deserve,” he said.

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