Obama and Calderon Seek To Ease Tensions

Mexican President Felipe Calderon and President Barack Obama met this week and their talks have been mostly focused on a strained relationship between the two countries:

Matt Spetalnik of Reuters has the full story here:

President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon vowed greater cooperation to combat drugs and arms smuggling and ease trade tensions as they sought to smooth over cross-border differences. Long-simmering problems between the United States and Mexico have slipped down Obama's agenda as he has been distracted by Middle East unrest, a budget fight in Congress, a fragile U.S. economy and his looming 2012 re-election bid. But Calderon's visit has been a chance to refocus Obama's attention on bilateral ties, and the leaders announced an agreement on a way to resolve a long-haul trucking dispute that has hurt trade between the two countries, whose two-way commerce surpasses $1 billion a day.

$1 Billion dollars a day between our two countries is a huge deal, while the two presidents focused on some of the positive aspects of our countries relationship, they also touched upon the border and concerns that President Calderon raised about the destabilizing forces of America's insatiable desire for drugs and lax gun laws:

But Obama made clear he had heard Calderon's appeal to do more to crack down on U.S. drug consumption and illegal arms shipments and cash flow to Mexican gangs, which the Mexican government says is fueling violence south of the border. While insisting that Washington had already ramped up its efforts in those areas, Obama told reporters: "We have to take responsibility just as he's taking responsibility ... We're putting more and more resources into this."

What is important about this meeting is that President Obama has now publically acknowledged that America's consumption of drugs and lax gun laws have contributed to the destabalization of the region. What is even more telling is that he was willing to awknowledge that the United States has stepped up by providing resources and fostering co-operation.

The full read out of the speech can be read HERE, with quotes from both presidents below:

President Obama on the shared responsiblity between the United States and Mexico on drug violence in Mexico:

I reiterated that the United States accepts our shared responsibility for the drug violence. So to combat the southbound flow of guns and money, we are screening all southbound rail cargo, seizing many more guns bound for Mexico and we are putting more gunrunners behind bars. And as part of our new drug control strategy, we are focused on reducing the demand for drugs through education, prevention and treatment.

President Obama on immigration reform:

We have also discussed immigration, an issue on which both countries have responsibilities. As I told President Calderón, I remain deeply committed to fixing our broken immigration system with comprehensive reform that continues to secure our borders, enforces our laws -- including against businesses that break the law -- and requiring accountability from undocumented workers. And we have to conduct this debate in a way that upholds our values as a nation of both laws and immigrants. So I’m eager to work with Republicans and Democrats to get this reform done, which is vital to the U.S. economy.

President Calderon on the border:

Secondly, in terms of the border, both President Obama and I agree that we must turn this area into the land of opportunities and not of conflict. Last year we adopted a declaration on the administration of a 21st century border, which we want both for the United States and Mexico. And since then, the bilateral executive committee entrusted with that implementation has agreed to a plan of action in addition to issuing a joint declaration to prevent border violence, so as to enable us to avoid tragic events such as those that we've seen on both sides of the border.

President Calderon on immigration reform:

Thirdly, in terms of immigration, President Obama has always recognized, invariably recognized the contributions of immigrants to the economy and society of the United States, and I recognize and value his clear and determined support for the adoption of a comprehensive migratory reform in this country, as well as his firm commitment to the human and civil rights of communities, regardless of their point of origin. I've expressed to him my concern for the proliferation of local initiatives that are against the interests or the rights of immigrant communities.