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Donald Trump’s Press Conference with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto

 

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Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: North American Leaders Summit Roundup

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

North American Leaders Summit Roundup

President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the North American Business, Civil Society and Education leaders during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to North American business, civil society, and education leaders during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper’s Press Conference at Three Amigos Summit

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Press Conference by President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper

Source: WH, 2-19-14

President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the North American Business, Civil Society and Education leaders during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to North American business, civil society, and education leaders during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Patio Central
Palacio de Gobierno
Toluca, Mexico

7:25 P.M. CST

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.  Members of the media.  Your Excellency, President of the United States of America Barack Obama; Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper.  Once again, I would like to welcome you to our country.

It is a great honor to have hosted you for the North American Leaders Summit here in the State of Mexico, and Toluca, its capital city — a state that I had the great honor of being the governor of before I took office with the greatest honor in the world of politics, and that is to lead the course of my country.

That is why I am very glad that we have had the opportunity of having this meeting.  And I’d like to congratulate myself for creating a space where we have had dialogues, where we have outreach to our countries, and where we have strengthened our friendship.  I can be certain that the warm space where we have met is very different from what the teams of men and women representing Mexico in Sochi are having in Russia.  They are in very cold weather and fighting hard to win a medal.  So be welcome to this very warm weather.

I would like to summarize for the media and for your delegations the scope of our meetings.  I would like to share with you that we have two highlights in our meetings.  First we had a bilateral with President Barack Obama and with his delegation and their counterparts from Mexico to address the following, and I would like to share this with you.

First of all, we assessed the breakthroughs related to the agreements made during President Obama’s past visit in May to our country, and now during his fifth visit — and I must note that Mexico ranks top of the list of the most visited countries by President Obama during his term.  And we were able to identify the level of progress of the agreements made back then; how much we have advanced the exchange between high level officials to precisely boost the trade and commercial relationship that Mexico and the U.S. have.

We have also analyzed the possibility of setting forward new mechanisms to build and fund strategic projects.  We have agreed to work on a proposal that would help us find different mechanisms to fund projects so that we can give a new life to our infrastructure, to have more agile and have safer commercial transactions between our countries.

Specifically, we talked about education.  We have set the task to have more academic exchanges so that more Mexican students can study in the United States and, reciprocally, students from the United States come to Mexico to study.  The number of students so far is somehow low, considering the potential that we have.  And out of the 14,000 students from Mexico that go to the United States to study, we have set a goal and that is to increase year by year this figure and reach 100,000 students a year that visit the United States, and 50,000 students from the U.S. coming to Mexico to study.

We have revised our security agenda and we have agreed to maintain a strategic dialogue, to coordinate efforts so we can face a common issue — security in both of our countries and, specifically, security at the border.

On the other hand, I would like to refer to the outcome of the North American Leaders Summit.  Therefore, I would like to share with you highlights in terms of the agreements reached in this framework.  We have worked on four main topics.  The first one is to foster shared and inclusive prosperity.  We have agreed to work on a plan to boost competitiveness.  We also have agreed to work on a North America transport plan which would give us better infrastructure in our three countries to make the commerce that happens between our three nations thrive.

We also agreed to standardize and expedite all the procedures that take place in our customhouses.  We have also agreed to enable the movement of individuals, and by this have Trusted Travelers Programs.  We have, each one, a program of this nature with a purpose in mind that all the travelers that are part of the Trusted Travelers registers in our countries are considered as a vetted traveler in North America.

Additionally, in terms of the second topic, we have addressed areas of opportunity.  And I must insist, in terms of our binational agenda with the United States, we have added up Canada to work on a program to train professionals by increasing our academic exchanges and ensuring mobility of students between our three countries.

We have also agreed to foster sustainable development, working towards the mitigation of the effects of climate change. And in the area of sustainability, we have also agreed to work on the preservation of the Monarch butterfly.  It is a landmark species in North America.  This is a species present in our three countries, and we have agreed to work a taskforce with a presentation from our three countries to preserve the Monarch butterfly.

Then, another topic is citizen security and regional topics. We have agreed to give privilege to the exchange of information, and we have also privilege to coordinate efforts between law enforcement authorities.  We will reinforce the measures aimed to fight money laundering and illicit financial flows.  And for that purpose we need to integrate our financial systems further.

We have also restated our commitment to support and cooperate with the Central America region as well as the Caribbean because they are partners in this hemisphere.  We have committed to foster development, economic growth and citizen security as well.

Basically, I have summarized the commitments made during the summit.  And fourthly, we have committed, the three of us, to give follow-up to all the agreements made.  Besides making agreements, we have committed to give follow-up to each one of those agreements and we have committed to make them happen.

Finally, I would like to share with you that in order to reach our goals we need to identify that North America is quite valuable.  The Free Trade Agreement executed 20 years ago and the intense dialogue that we have between our three countries in the North American region is very valuable and every exchange is based on trust.  And we share a very good relationship between all of us who lead our countries.

This North America Leaders Summit has been a very good opportunity to specify what our commitments will be and what are the tasks for the future.  And it has also served as a space to restate our friendship, the good relationship that we have and the respect that we pay to each other.  And we have committed to work hard to make a significant contribution, to make North America a more competitive region — I would dare to say the most competitive region in the world.  And this is a region that has a true call for prosperity.  And we will work to provide better well-being to the citizens of our countries.

We have made great strides.  We create plenty of jobs due to the economic relationship that we have managed to achieve, but we want more.  We want more development.  We are aware of the potential that we find in North America.  And I make a pledge so that the seventh summit of leaders of North America serves its purpose.

Once again, we welcome, and I would like to say that I hope you have had a very pleasant stay in Toluca and I hope that this visit has been very fruitful.  And I hope that we have been able to build an even stronger relationship.

Thank you.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Buenas noches to President Peña Nieto.  To the people of Toluca and the people of Mexico, thank you so much for your extraordinary hospitality.  Thank you again, Enrique, for welcoming us to your hometown and home state, which — like the beautiful surroundings tonight — reflects Mexico’s proud history as well as the economic dynamism of today’s Mexico.

I want to thank President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Harper for their partnership in deepening the extraordinary ties between our countries — especially the trade that supports good jobs for our people.  For the United States, Canada and Mexico are two of our largest trading partners with trade that supports millions of American jobs.  Thanks in part to our efforts to boost U.S. exports, American exports to Canada and Mexico continue to grow faster than our exports to the rest of the world.

Together, our countries have strengths that give North America a tremendous competitive advantage — the skills of our workers, manufacturing that’s growing, and new sources of energy. So we have to take advantage of these competitive advantages, and we need to do it together.  All of this positions us to be a powerhouse in the global economy.  And that’s why we’re here, to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to be more competitive and create more jobs in Canada, in Mexico, and in the United States.

First, we’re focused on making it easier to trade.  Earlier today, I signed a new executive order to make it easier for companies that want to export and import.  Instead of dealing with dozens of different federal agencies and long paper forms, we’re going to create a one-stop shop online, so companies can submit all their information in one place and save themselves time and money.  We’re going to keep investing in infrastructure — like roads, bridges, border crossings — so our goods are getting to market faster.  We’ve agreed to keep working to make it easier for our businesspeople and tourists to trade and travel.  And we’re going to step up our efforts to streamline and eliminate regulations or the red tape that can sometimes stifle trade and job creation.

We’ve agreed to keep working to complete negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including strong protections for our workers and the environment, so that we can compete in the fast-growing markets of the Asia Pacific.  And because it will grow the U.S. economy and make the United States more attractive to investment — and because we have to do right by our families and our values — I’ve reiterated that immigration reform remains one of my highest priorities.

I’m also very pleased that we’ve agreed to keep expanding educational partnerships, as Enrique mentioned, so our young people develop the skills they need to succeed in the global economy.  And this builds on my initiative that we call 100,000 Strong in the Americas.  We want more students from the United States studying throughout the hemisphere, and we want more students from places like Mexico and Canada studying in the United States — so that they’re developing familiarity and partnerships and friendships that will serve them and serve our countries well for decades to come.

Second, we continue to deepen our clean-energy partnerships, which create jobs and combat climate change.  Yesterday, I announced that the United States will develop new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks — standards that reduce carbon pollution.  And today, all three of our nations have agreed to work together to meet high fuel standards for these heavy-duty trucks.

And more broadly, we agreed to join with our Central American and Caribbean partners on a regional energy strategy.   And this builds on the commitment I made in Central America last year to help our partners across the region reduce their energy costs and become more competitive.  On a global level, we agreed to keep standing together as we push for an international agreement to phase down the production and consumption of dangerous hydrofluorocarbons.

Number three, we know that realizing our full potential as individual countries and as a region means confronting the criminals and narcotraffickers who unleashed so much violence on our citizens.  Here in Mexico, the security forces and the Mexican people continue to make enormous sacrifices in that fight, and our three nations are united against this threat.  In the United States, we continue to be committed to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and we’ll continue our unprecedented efforts to combat the southbound flow of illegal guns and cash.

And, finally, given our shared commitment to democratic values and human rights, I want to take this opportunity to address the situation in Venezuela and Ukraine, and the unacceptable violence in those two countries, which the United States strongly condemns.

In Venezuela, rather than trying to distract from its own failings by making up false accusations against diplomats from the United States, the government ought to focus on addressing the legitimate grievances of the Venezuelan people.  So, along with the Organization of American States, we call on the Venezuelan government to release protestors that it’s detained and engage in real dialogue.  And all parties have an obligation to work together to restrain violence and restore calm.

With regard to Ukraine, along with our European partners, we will continue to engage all sides.  And we continue to stress to President Yanukovych and the Ukrainian government that they have the primary responsibility to prevent the kind of terrible violence that we’ve seen, to withdraw riot police, to work with the opposition to restore security and human dignity and move the country forward.  And this includes progress towards a multiparty technical government that can work with the international community on a support package and adopt reforms necessary for free and fair elections next year.

Ukrainians are a proud and resilient people who’ve overcome extraordinary challenges in their history, and that’s a pride and strength that I hope they draw on now.  Meanwhile, I’ve urged the military in Ukraine to show restraint and to let civilians pursue the dialogue necessary for progress.  We’ve obviously seen reports of a truce between the government and the opposition.  If the truce is implemented, it could provide space for the sides to resolve their disagreements peacefully.

And going forward, we’ll continue to do whatever we can to support Ukrainians as they seek a peaceful resolution and respond to the aspirations of the Ukrainian people for a strong, unified democracy that’s fully integrated into the international community.

So, again, I want to thank Enrique and the people of Mexico, and the people of Toluca, for their wonderful hospitality.  If we stay focused on our shared vision — a North America that’s more integrated and more competitive — then progress in each of our countries will mean more prosperity and opportunity for everyone.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  (As interpreted.)  Allow me to start out by thanking President Peña Nieto for his generous hospitality.  We have had a wonderful stay in this wonderful country, in Mexico, and we are eager to come back soon.

Today, I had fruitful meetings and dialogues with my commercial partners from Mexico in regard to services, information, and also shared and fundamental values and, of course, a democratic and peaceful world.

Today, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of NAFTA.  As time can tell us, this treaty was successful, and it started guaranteeing prosperity from one extreme to the other of the hemisphere.  The volume of exchanges is fourfold now, and is over $30 billion.  And we have now seen exponential growth and can hope for exponential growth in years to go.

We are in agreement to say that we can still grow the success of NAFTA, to implement new ways, for instance, in regard to the Trans-Pacific alliance.  And so these negotiations should be for the best.  We need to create employment.  This is the key to revitalize the economy and to foster prosperity not only for the Canadian populations, but for our populations at large.

That’s why our government will keep on working and expanding the free trade and commerce with our main partners in North America, as well as with Asia Pacific region and worldwide, since we want to have access on the other side of the Atlantic, since we have subscribed to the free exchange agreement with Europe.

Today, President Obama, President Peña Nieto and myself have discussed and have delved into many topics, especially the state of the world economy at a local, regional level, and competiveness — North American competitiveness.  We are truly enthusiastic to collaborate, with this idea of collaborating together.  We shall keep on working together with my homologues [counterparts] and to take a profit of all the occasions for the well-being of our populations.  And we will host the forthcoming population of the summit in Canada.

And I would like to add a word in regard to the situation in Ukraine.  There’s been a truce, but it is essential that we take action.  And at the end of the day, the Ukrainian government has to be held responsible for settling this situation.  The Ukrainian government took actions — actions that were not only unpopular, but actions that put at risk nature and the aspirations of becoming an independent nation.

(In English.)  My sincere thanks to President Peña Nieto and the Mexican people for their generous hospitality.  We’ve had a wonderful time here in beautiful Mexico, and I look forward to returning again soon.

Today we had productive meetings with Canada’s closest friends and trading partners — partners with whom we share goods, services and information, and also fundamental values and a vision for a democratic and peaceful world.

This year we mark the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement.  And as only time can reveal, the agreement — statistics alone — has been overwhelmingly successful and is responsible for creating prosperity from the bottom to the top of the continent.  There has been a fourfold growth in trilateral trade over the last 20 years that now exceeds a trillion dollars. And it is estimated that the NAFTA marketplace will continue to expand exponentially in the decades to come.

We all agree that there is enormous potential to build on the success of NAFTA in new ways, for example, most notably through the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We’re therefore focused on bringing those negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Developing trade is one of the keys to job creation.  It is a key to economic vitality, and it is a key to long-term prosperity not just for the Canadian people, but for all of our peoples.  That’s why our government will continue to work to expand trade with our two core trading partners in North America, in the Asia Pacific region more generally, and around the world  — just as we did last year, when we expanded our access across the Atlantic through the conclusion of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

In our meetings today, Presidents Peña Nieto, Obama and I discussed a range of topics as have already been detailed by my colleagues, including the state of the global economy, international regional security, and North American competitiveness.  We share a genuine enthusiasm for closer collaboration.

The Presidents and I will continue to work together to address the challenges of the 21st century and to seize the many promising opportunities that the future holds for our peoples.  And I do look forward to hosting the next North American Leaders Summit in Canada.

And I’d also just like to conclude with a word on the situation in Ukraine.  We obviously are encouraged to hear the news of a truce.  While this is good news, this kind of news, these kinds of words are only meaningful if they are put into action.  And ultimately, it is the regime that is responsible for resolving the current situation.  It is the regime that created this situation — not by taking decisions that were merely unpopular, but by undertaking decisions that went against the very nature and aspirations of Ukraine as an independent state.  And for that reason, we hold the government responsible and urge them to take all the steps necessary to resolve the situation and to put Ukraine back on the democratic and Euro-Atlantic path that the Ukrainian people desire.  (Applause.)

MODERATOR:  (As interpreted.)  We will have a round of questions.  Jason McDonald will introduce the Canadian journalist asking the question.

MR. MCDONALD:  Omar Sachedina from CTV News.

Q    Mr. President, good evening to you.  Canada has offered to work with the United States on joint rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector.  You’ve said the Keystone XL pipeline won’t be approved if it significantly worsens climate change.  The State Department report has concluded that Keystone will not have a significant effect on climate change.  So my question to you is, what more needs to be done on both sides of the border for this project to go ahead?

And, Prime Minister, I’d love for you to be able to weigh on this as well.  Et en français aussi, s’il vous plaît.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I’ve stated previously, there is a process that has been gone through, and I know it’s been extensive, and at times I’m sure Stephen feels a little too laborious.  But these are how we make these decisions about something that could potentially have a significant impact on America’s national economy and our national interests.

So the State Department has gone through its review.  There is now a comment period in which other agencies weigh in.  That will be evaluated by Secretary of State Kerry, and we’ll make a decision at that point.

In the meantime, Stephen and I, during a break after lunch, discussed a shared interest in working together around dealing with greenhouse gas emissions.  And this is something that we have to deal with.  I said previously that how Keystone impacted greenhouse gas emissions would affect our decision, but, frankly, it has to affect all of our decisions at this stage, because the science is irrefutable.  We’re already seeing severe weather patterns increase.  That has consequences for our businesses, for our jobs, for our families, for safety and security.  It has the potential of displacing people in ways that we cannot currently fully anticipate, and will be extraordinarily costly.

So I welcome the work that we can do together with Canada.  One of the wonderful things about North America is we have this amazing bounty of traditional fossil fuels, and we also have extraordinary businesses that are able to extract them in very efficient ways.  And that’s something that we should welcome because it helps to promote economic growth.  But we only have one planet, and so I believe that ultimately we can both promote economic development and growth, recognizing that we’re not going to immediately transition off of fossil fuels, but that we do have to point to the future and show leadership so that other countries who will be the main emitters fairly soon — China, India, other emerging markets — so that they can look at what we’re doing and we have leverage over them in terms of them improving their practices as well.

So this will be a joint effort.  I’m very eager to consult with Stephen around those issues.  And Keystone will proceed along the path that’s already been set forth.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Let me just say a couple of things. First of all, obviously, President Obama and I had an exchange on this.  My views in favor of the project are very well known.  His views on the process are also equally well known.  And we had that discussion and will continue on that discussion.

I would just say two things about the process.  First, on the issue of climate change, which is a shared concern, Canada and the United States have similar targets at the international level.  We already cooperate in several sectors in terms of emissions reductions.  But in terms of climate change, I think the State Department report already was pretty definitive on that particular issue.

The other thing I’d just draw attention to, just because I think it’s useful to point out the benefits to Canada, is the reform that we had done of environmental review and assessments of projects in Canada.  As you know, a couple years ago we moved to reform our system so that we have a single review wherever possible — a single review, a multi-dimensional review that happens over a fixed timeline.  And I think that is a process that is tremendously useful in giving investors greater certainty in terms of the kind of plans they may have in the Canadian economy.

(As interpreted.)  And now I shall repeat my comments in French.  (Speaks in French.)

MODERATOR:  From the traveling U.S. press, goes to Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press.

Q    Señor Presidente, muchas gracias.  Ha sido un placer.  Prime Minister — do you worry that longstanding opposition to trade deals in the U.S. from both the President’s party and some Republicans pose a threat to the Trans-Pacific Partnership?  And do you — in your mind, is it essential that Congress approve it, or at least give the President fast track authority this year, or can it wait until after the U.S. elections in November?

Mr. President, if you’d like to chime in on that as well — you mentioned parochial interest today; I’d be interested in how you intend to bring your Democrats along.  But I had a question for you on something else that you raised.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  How many questions do you got, Jim?

Q    Just one, sir.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Okay.  (Laughter.)  Because you know I’ve got to answer that one, too, right?  That was a pretty slick move.  (Laughter.)

Q    The common denominator in the strife in Ukraine and Syria is the support that those two governments get from Russia, and I’m wondering, sir, if you believe that President Putin bears some responsibility for the intransigence of those two regimes.  And to some degree, has this gone beyond just those two countries, and has it become a tug of war between two world powers?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Let me answer very briefly on the trade issue.  It’s not accurate, Jim, to say that my party opposes this trade deal.  There are elements of my party that oppose this trade deal, there are elements of my party that oppose the South Korea free trade agreement, the Colombia free trade agreement and the Panama free trade agreement — all of which we passed with Democratic votes.

So what I’ve said to President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Harper is we’ll get this passed if it’s a good agreement.  And the key at this point is to make sure that our countries, which hold ourselves up as champions of free trade, resolve our legitimate national interests in these negotiations so that we can present a united front against a number of the other participants in the TPP negotiations who don’t have as much of a tradition of free trade.  And that is to our advantage, precisely because North America has this amazing competitive advantage, and we are already relatively open markets.

And part of our goal here is to make sure that the Asia Pacific region — which is growing faster than anyplace else in the world, has a larger population than anyplace else in the world — that they have a model of trade that is free and fair and open and allows our businesses to compete and allows our workers to make goods and deliver services that those markets are purchasing.  And we can only do that if we raise the bar in terms of what our trade models look like.

And I’ve said this to some of my own constituents who are opposed to trade:  Those who are concerned about losing jobs or outsourcing need to understand some of the old agreements put us at a disadvantage.  That’s exactly why we’ve got to have stronger agreements that protect our intellectual property, that open up markets to our agricultural products; that make sure that when it comes to government procurement or sovereign wealth funds in these other countries, that they’re not taking advantage of our businesses and preventing us from competing there.  That’s exactly why we’ve got to get this done.  And I’m very appreciative of the shared vision and commitment that Prime Minister Harper and President Enrique Peña Nieto have on this issue.

Now, with respect to Syria and the Ukraine, I do think it is worth noting that you have in this situation one country that has clearly been a client state of Russia, another whose government is currently — been supported by Russia; where the people obviously have a very different view and vision for their country.  And we’ve now seen a great deal of turmoil there that arose organically from within those countries.

I don’t think there’s a competition between the United States and Russia.  I think this is an expression of the hopes and aspirations of people inside of Syria and people inside of the Ukraine who recognize that basic freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, fair and free elections, the ability to run a business without paying a bribe, to not be discriminated against because of your religion or your beliefs — that those are fundamental rights that everybody wants to enjoy.

Now, Mr. Putin has a different view on many of those issues, and I don’t think that there’s any secret on that.  And our approach as the United States is not to see these as some Cold War chessboard in which we’re in competition with Russia.  Our goal is to make sure that the people of Ukraine are able to make decisions for themselves about their future, that the people of Syria are able to make decisions without having bombs going off and killing women and children, or chemical weapons, or towns being starved because a despot wants to cling to power.

Those express our values and our national interests, and we will continue to express those national interests.  There are times, I hope, where Russia will recognize that over the long term they should be on board with those values and interests as well.  Right now, there are times where we have strong disagreements.  And when I speak to Mr. Putin, I’m very candid about those disagreements, even as we will continue to pursue cooperation with Russia on areas where we had shared concerns.

But I want to emphasize this:  The situation that happened in Ukraine has to do with whether or not the people of Ukraine can determine their own destiny.  And my government and Vice President Biden, and I personally, have expressed to President Yanukovych the need for him to recognize the spirit of the Ukrainian people and work with that, as opposed to trying to repress it.  And so we’ll continue to stand on the side of the people.

My hope is, at this point, that a truce may hold, but Stephen is exactly right — ultimately, the government is responsible for making sure that we shift towards some sort of unity government, even if it’s temporary, that allows us to move to fair and free elections so that the will of the Ukrainian people can be rightly expressed without the kinds of chaos we’ve seen on the streets and without the bloodshed that all of us I think strongly condemn.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  On the issue of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as I said, we are wanting to see and committed to seeing a good, comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.  I think it’s in all of our interest for the reasons that have already been laid out.  That said, the government of Canada’s position is always clear in these matters that we will only come to an agreement when we are convinced the agreement is in the best interest of Canada.  And we will stay at the table as long as it takes to get to that particular situation.

And I think we have the track record to prove it.  Our government, the current government of Canada, has signed more trade agreements than all previous Canadian governments combined. What I would say is this — I’m not going to comment on the process in Congress.  What I would say is this — the reason I said what I said about working until we get an agreement that is in the interest of Canada is we will have to have an agreement that can be sold to the Canadian Parliament and ultimately to the Canadian people.  And that’s what we’re aiming for.

(The Prime Minister repeats his remarks in French.)

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  The Mexican stand has been very clear, and specifically our take on the TPP have always stated it, it is of the interest of Mexico.  We have been part of the negotiation rounds to eventually reach an agreement of this important opportunity that the TPP offers.  We can expand the potential of North America into the Asia Pacific region.  Mexico would do its best for the sake of Mexico to be on the side of the solution.  We will overcome disagreements and eventual roadblocks that the negotiation rounds present.  And we hope that it is this spirit that we reach the agreement.

Mexico has made a commitment and has shown political will to be part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We hope that the deal happens.  That is the Mexican stand, and we will work to the best of our ability to reach this goal.

Now, on behalf of Mexico, Miguel Reyes Razo, from the Mexican Editorial Organization, will ask a question.

Q    (As interpreted.)  Good evening, everyone.  By virtue of the fact that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the efforts made by Mexico, the United States and Canada, we have NAFTA for 20 years.  I would like to ask Enrique Peña Nieto, the President of my country, what is the outlook of the northern part of this continent in terms of development?  And at the same time, Mr. President Peña Nieto, I would like to know, what are the challenges for the development that we have hoped for, that we are expecting?

And I would like to ask the President of the United States of America, Mr. Obama, and Mr. Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada — what is the engagement that we should expect from you? What is your actual commitment to make this region, North America, thrive in economical terms?  Now, we have 13 months and a half of your administration, Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto.  And you, Canada and the United States, partners and neighbors of this country, what is your take?  What is your take on this 13 months and a half of the Mexican President?  Thank you very much for your reply.

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. Miguel, I believe that we have been very candid in terms of the huge strength that we see in North America after 20 years of the free trade agreement.  Our trade has been able to thrive.  We have more commercial exchanges.  We have more investment in the region.

And today we have integrated added value chains between our three countries.  That means that we are adding value to products that are offered in this great market.  We are fully aware of the economic growth since, so far, we are fully aware of the creation of jobs in North America.  That is why we have committed in this summit to take on actions that would help us strengthen our economic ties even further.  We have committed to enable trade, to have better infrastructure, to have safer exchanges, and to make our trade be easier.  So these are the agreements that we have made today.

And we have also acknowledged the enormous potential.  And the future that we see in the horizon would be based on the strengths that we have built upon over the course of the last 20 years.  And let us acknowledge that we are three countries that we are like-minded in terms of our values.  We are three democratic countries.  We are three countries who believe in free trade.  And our countries have found in this instrument a space to create jobs and to have more development in our nations.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, as we’ve said I think throughout our meetings today, America’s success, Mexico’s success, Canadian success are all bound together.  I think that if you just look at the facts, Mexico has made enormous strides over the last several decades.  And, in part, that is because we’ve seen a greater integration of Mexico in the world economy.  I think the United States and Canada have played constructive roles in that.  Our ability to trade and engage in commerce with Mexico obviously has created jobs and opportunities in our country, as well.  And so it has been a mutually beneficial partnership — based on self-interest, but also as Enrique said, based on common values.

We’ve seen a consolidation of democracy here in Mexico, and I think the kinds of reforms that Enrique has initiated over the last 13 months are ones that will put Mexico in an even stronger competitive footing in the world economy in the years to come.

And I recognize there are still implementation issues that will be involved, and there will be a healthy debate here in Mexico, but I’m confident, given the talent of the Mexican people, given the resources of the Mexican people, given the growing capacity of Mexican businesses, and given the fact that we, as a North American entity, constitutes a huge trading bloc and economic powerhouse around the world, that we should anticipate Mexico’s growth to continue, standards of living to continue, jobs and opportunities to continue.  And that’s what we hope for all our countries.

I’m confident that the partnership that we’ve developed is good for the United States, creates jobs in the United States, helps businesses in the United States.  And if we continue to cooperate and try to reduce some of the barriers that have in the past slowed down our commercial exchanges, as well as educational exchanges and scientific exchanges, then we’re going to be successful.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  (As interpreted.)  Allow me, this is our perspective.  While Canada has seen great success, but the development of Mexico throughout this time period that is 20 years has been unbelievable, socially, economically, politically. And Mexico is becoming a world of power.  And we see this accelerating process with the support of President Peña Nieto.

You have made comments on the challenges to meet.  I think that the greatest one is the need to keep on increasing the flow of goods and services and information across our borders at a time where risks and threats to security are also increased across the borders.  And that will be the greatest challenge to meet.

(In English.)  Look, I think the NAFTA relationship, as I’ve said before, has been tremendously successful for all of us. But I think, looking back 20 years, the development of Mexico on all levels — economic, social, political — over the period has been incredible.  It’s a process that is accelerating under President Peña Nieto’s very bold vision for the future, and Mexico is increasingly becoming a global economic player.

You asked about challenges.  I think the biggest single challenge is in an era where we are seeing and need to see even greater movement of goods, services, people, investments, information flows across our borders, that at the same time, the risks and the threats to security across those borders continue to rise.  So the big challenge will be how we continue to grow that human and trade flow, while at the same time minimizing the risks.

MODERATOR:  (As interpreted) President Peña Nieto, would you like to take the floor so you can officially close this meeting?

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Yes, I will.  Thank you very much.

Once again, I would like to congratulate myself for this summit.  We have built a climate that is based on trust, respect, and we have worked towards a relationship that it’s very clear in terms of the responsibilities of each one of the heads of state. And I am certain that this relationship will result in a greater integration, a stronger friendship, and whatever we do for the sake of North America will benefit our peoples.

I would like to bear testimony of how grateful I am towards the authorities of the state, the Governor of the State of Mexico, Eruviel Ávila.  I’d like to thank you for enabling the summit to take place here.  I would like to thank the Chief Justice of the State of Mexico.  They provided us with their facilities.

And I would like to thank the inhabitants of the capital city of the State of Mexico, Toluca, for their hospitality.  I thank them.  And I’d like to thank all of them for the inconveniences and all the preparation work and all the security operations needed for the summit.  I’m very grateful towards them.  And I’m very grateful for the hospitality given to the President of the United States, Barack Obama; and the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

Thank you very much and have a safe trip home.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
8:20 P.M. CST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper’s Speech to North American Business, Civil Society and Education Leaders at Three Amigos Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Travels to Mexico for the North American Leaders’ Summit

Source: WH, 2-19-14

President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside of President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the North American Business, Civil Society and Education leaders during the North American Leaders Summit in Toluca, Mexico.President Barack Obama delivers remarks alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to North American business, civil society, and education leaders during the North American Leaders’ Summit in Toluca, Mexico, Feb. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Today, the President traveled to Toluca, Mexico for this year’s North American Leaders’ Summit, along with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama, President Peña Nieto, and Prime Minister Harper to North American Business, Civil Society and Education Leaders

Source: WH, 2-19-14 

Salon del Pueblo
Palacio de Gobierno
Toluca, Mexico

5:03 P.M. CST

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Your Excellency, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America; Your Excellency, Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada; ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests:  We are here gathered with representatives from the public, the private, and the social sectors.  All of you have walked along with us in the construction road to a more competitive North America.  And by this, we will have a higher level of development for our peoples.

Members of the media, Mexico welcomes you with open arms to celebrate the North America Leaders Summit, Toluca 2014.  Besides being Toluca, my hometown, this is the place where I was entrusted by the citizens to serve as the governor of this state, the state of Mexico.  The state of Mexico is a clear symbol of the productive integration of North America due to its geographic location and its connectivity.  Here we have seen the settlement of advanced automobile facilities and very important logistic hubs.  Both are a true example of value chains, global value chains that make North America excel.

That is why, from Toluca, the three leaders of North America confirm today our commitment to position our region as one of the most dynamic and competitive of the whole world.

I celebrate the fact that we have gathered here with prominent representatives from the academia, from the private sector, and from the civil society from North America.  Your contribution has been vital to bring Canada, the U.S. and Mexico closer.  With a clear vision in mind, all of you pushed from the onset the great idea that gathers us today — an integrated North America with goals and shared efforts.

(Drop in audio feed.)

Once, the Free Trade Agreement area was the largest free trade area with an unprecedented push of trade exchanges, regional investment, and the creation of millions of jobs.  With the same innovative spirit, two decades after, we are bound to go beyond and enhance all together the progress that each one of our countries has made, because individually all our countries have moved forward as well.

Therefore, the principal topics of this seventh summit are very clear:  First, inclusive and shared prosperity.  Number two, new opportunity areas.  Number three, citizen security.  And fourth, regional and global topics.  It is upon these four topics today we will work together to boost the economic growth of our countries and a generation of quality jobs, and by this, increase the wellbeing of our societies.

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada, the United States and Mexico share strengths that make us move forward.  We are a community of more than 450 million inhabitants where talent and creativity of our peoples excel.  Trade exchanges from the three countries are over $1 trillion; in Spanish we use billions, in English we use trillions.  We have the support and thrive of our entrepreneurs and the capabilities of technological innovation coming from our universities and large companies.

We have principles, we have institutions that make us be solid democracies.  We have natural resources, endless natural resources and new opportunities so we can take advantage of them sustainably.

All of these are factors that lay a solid groundwork for North America’s region, and this is how we will make it a more attractive and competitive region in the world for the upcoming years.  I would like to invite you, respectfully, so that each one of us from the area where you have the responsibility to act, let’s make North America a more competitive and a more prosperous region for the sake of the inhabitants of our countries.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good afternoon.  Buenas tardes.  Bonjour.  I want to thank Enrique for his extraordinary hospitality and for bringing us here to his beautiful home city.  I want to thank the people of Toluca and of Mexico for your great hospitality.

We’re all here on business, which means I’m not here as long as I’d like.  I have not, for example, sampled some of Toluca’s legendary chorizo.  (Laughter.)  And hopefully the next time I stop by, I’m going to be able to have some of that.

All of us — Stephen, Enrique and I — are focused on how we can deepen what are already incredible ties between our three nations.  And I appreciate that all of you are here today, because governments cannot do it alone.  The strength of the relationship between Canada, Mexico and the United States is not just a matter of government policy; it’s not just a matter of legislation.  There is an incredible richness to the relationship that comes from our people, from our businesses, from our commercial ties, from the students who are traveling back and forth, from the cultures that are shared between us.

And that strength is in some ways unique throughout the world.  If you think about North America, to have three borders this long in which we share a common set of values, a common set of principles, a commitment to democracy, a commitment to free markets, a commitment to trade where we are allies and interact peacefully, that is a precious gift.  And it’s one that I think all three of us are committed to building and nurturing for future generations.

And for me this is very personal.  Some of my closest advisors and allies and political friends are the children of Mexican immigrants who have made an extraordinary life and contribution in the United States.  My brother-in-law is Canadian, so you know I have to like Canadians — (laughter) — although I will note that I think we are going to have both the men’s hockey teams and the women’s hockey teams battling it out.  (Laughter.)  So for a very brief period of time, I may not feel as warm towards Canadians as I normally do — at least until those matches are over.

But each of you experiences these connections in very concrete ways.  Enrique already spoke about the volume of trade that takes place, and the interactions between our businesses, and the subsidiaries of companies in each country that are operating in the other.  And so much of the cross-border trade that exists is part of an integrated supply chain that allows us, all three of us as countries, to successfully sell our products and services all around the world.

And so we have every incentive to make this work.  And so a lot of our conversation has focused on how do we reduce any continuing trade frictions; how do we make sure that our borders are more efficient; how do we make sure that the educational exchanges between our young people are expanded so that our young people understand their opportunities will be brighter and expanded if in fact they’ve had the opportunity to study in Canada or to study in Mexico, if they know Spanish, if they know French.

And we use these forums to make concrete progress.  Our staffs work incredibly hard to make them successful.  But, frankly, until our leaders come around, until the three of us meet, sometimes it doesn’t all get done.  And this becomes a forcing mechanism for us to move forward on commercial progress, joint security progress, progress on educational and scientific exchanges.

But — and this is the last point I want to emphasize — there are always going to be parochial interests in each of our countries, so that’s appropriate and that will express itself politically, and we have to be responsive to our own constituencies.  If, in fact, we’re going to continue to build and strengthen the ties between our three countries, then you can’t just leave it to politicians alone.  All of you are going to have to speak out and speak up on the importance of this relationship.

We want to make sure that we’re your partners and allies in this process, but when people understand what this means in terms of job creation in the United States, job creation in Canada, job creation in Mexico, how this relationship enhances our security, how it improves our capacity to heat our homes and grow our food and make sure that young people have opportunities in the future — when they hear that from you, it’s that much more persuasive.

And so I would encourage all of you to continue to make your voices heard.  You’ll have certainly a partner in me, and I’m sure that you’ll have a partner in Stephen and Enrique as well.

I thank you for participating here today.  And once again, Enrique, thank you for the extraordinary hospitality in this beautiful state and this beautiful city.  Muchas gracias.  (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Bon après-midi.  Buenas tardes.  Good afternoon, everybody — wonderful day and we’re delighted to be here in Toluca.  And it’s easy to see why you’re so proud of your hometown.  It’s a wonderful spot here.

And, Barack, it’s always great to see you.  And I like my brothers-in-law, too.  (Laughter.)  And I’ll probably like them no matter who wins the hockey game.  (Laughter.)  Anyway.

I want to also thank all of you being here, in particular, obviously, the delegation that has accompanied me from Canada.

(As interpreted.)  Today we have this opportunity to make this North American market more competitive.  You are entrepreneurs, you are job creators, employment creators all over this continent.

(In English.)  — with so many business people here, as well as academics and others, to discuss how to make North America, which is these three economies combined, which is nearly one-quarter of the world’s economy more prosperous and more competitive.

And it’s particularly fitting that it would be you as civil society and business leaders who would lead such a discussion, for although it was NAFTA and the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement before it that opened up the opportunities, this is a trade alliance that, in fact, consists of very little top-down infrastructure.  It has been businesses, people on the ground, social interactions, academic interactions which have advanced relations, particularly economic relations that go well beyond trade.

Today, Canadian, American and Mexican companies do much more than sell things to each other.  You increasingly make things together through integrated supply chains.  Now, for example, we talk about the fact, in Canada obviously, that the Canadian-American trade relationship is the largest in the world — certainly, the U.S. is our largest export market.  But Canadian exports to the United States contain an average of 25 percent American content.  Likewise, Mexican exports to the United States include an average of 40 percent U.S. content.

(As interpreted.)  So this is why we want to tighten our relationships and increase the competitiveness in the region.  And we call on the entrepreneurs — of course, the Canadian and U.S. companies are grabbing occasions and opportunities in Mexico — throughout the continent to create employment seedbeds.

(In English.)  Jobs include organizations as diverse as TransCanada, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and Beef Canada, the Canola Council, Linamar, Scotiabank and many others that I know are represented with us here today.  And they have tremendous growth prospects in fields such as energy, in education, agri-food, information and communications technologies, banking and financial services, and many, many others, particularly when one looks at not just the rapid transformation in this country over the past 20 years, but the very aggressive reforms that are being undertaken by President Peña Nieto’s administration.

(As interpreted.)  And having said this, the world, the entire world is not what it used to be in 1994.

(In English.)  Different realities from 20 years ago are realities we must adapt to today.  They include obviously the ongoing uncertainty, market uncertainty that remains from the global recession and also from a global economy that is much more competitive from many other regions.

(As interpreted.)  We must work together to be able to break barriers and for the benefit of our populations.

(In English.)  And so, as Canadians, Mexicans and Americans, we need to look for ways to work together and to look forward.

Thank you for being here.  (Applause.)

END                5:21 P.M. CST

Full Text Obama Presidency February 19, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech before Bilateral Meeting on North American Leaders Summit and Condemning Ukrainian Violence

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Obama before Restricted Bilateral Meeting

Source: WH, 2-19-14 

Governor’s Office
Palacio De Gobierno Del Estado De Mexico
Toluca, Mexico

1:00 P.M. CST

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, let me thank President Peña Nieto for his wonderful hospitality in hosting us here today.  And it’s a special treat to be able to visit his home town of Toluca.

This is my fifth visit to Mexico, and I think it underscores the incredible importance of the relationship between the United States and Mexico, not only on commercial issues and security issues, but because of the intimate person-to-person relations that exist between our two countries.

I want to congratulate President Peña Nieto on the outstanding efforts that he’s made during the course of this year on a whole range of reforms that promise to make Mexico more competitive and increase opportunity for the people of Mexico.  And I’m also very interested in hearing President Peña Nieto’s strategies as he embarks on dealing with some of the reforms in the criminal justice system and around security issues, which I know are very pressing on his mind and where we have some excellent cooperation between the United States and Mexico.

More broadly, the North American Leaders Summit gives us an opportunity to build on the enormous progress that we’ve already made in making sure that North America is the most competitive region in the world and that we are able not only to continue to integrate our economies effectively to create jobs both in the United States, Mexico and Canada, but that we’re able to project American and Mexican and Canadian goods and services around the world toward the benefit of our people.

And the cooperation ranges from how do we make our borders more efficient to moving forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership that offers the opportunity to open up new markets in the fastest, most populous region of the world, the Asia Pacific region.

We’ll also have the opportunity to discuss how we can work together more closely on scientific and educational exchanges.  We’re particularly interested in making sure that young people in Mexico and the United States and Canada are able to study and travel in each country, and we’re trying to expand those kinds of exchanges.

So this is a wonderful opportunity for us to build on the work that we’ve already done over the last year.

With the President’s indulgence, let me say one last thing, and that is about the situation in Ukraine, which obviously has captured the attention of the entire world.

The United States condemns in strongest terms the violence that’s taking place there.  And we have been deeply engaged with our European partners as well as both the Ukrainian government and the opposition to try to assure that that violence ends.

But we hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protesters in an appropriate way; that the Ukrainian people are able to assemble and speak freely about their interests without fear of repression.

And I want to be very clear that as we work through these next several days in Ukraine that we are going to be watching very carefully and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protesters.  We’ve said that we also expect peaceful protesters to remain peaceful.  And we’ll be monitoring very carefully the situation, recognizing, along with our European partners and the international community, there will be consequences if people step over the line.  And that includes making sure that the Ukrainian military does not step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians.

So the United States will continue to engage with all sides in the dispute in Ukraine, and ultimately our interest is to make sure that the Ukrainian people can express their own desires.  And we believe that a large majority of Ukrainians are interested in an integration with Europe, and the commerce and cultural exchanges that are possible for them to expand opportunity and prosperity.

But regardless of how the Ukrainian people determine their own future, it is important that it is the people themselves that make those decisions.  And that’s what the United States will continue to strive to achieve.

And I do think there is still the possibility of a peaceful transition within Ukraine, but it’s going to require the government, in particular, to actively seek that peaceful transition, and it requires the opposition and those on the streets to recognize that violence is not going to be the path by which this issue will be resolved.

Thank you very much.

END
1:10 P.M. CST

Obama Presidency May 3, 2013: President Barack Obama Reaffirms the United States-Mexico Relationship During Trip

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Reaffirms the United States-Mexico Relationship

Source: WH, 5-3-13

 

President Barack Obama and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico share a toast prior to a working dinner at Los Pinos, Mexico City, Mexico, May 2, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama greets President Peña Nieto of Mexico at the Palacio NacionalPresident Barack Obama greets President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico, May 2, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On the first day of his trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, President Obama was in Mexico City for meetings and a joint press conference with President Peña Nieto.

The two leaders, who first met in Washington, DC last November, discussed the broad range of issues that bind our nations and affect the daily lives of citizens in both countries, and renewed their commitment to a strong relationship between the United States and Mexico.

President Barack Obama participates in a press conference with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico President Barack Obama participates in a press conference with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico, May 2, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

While working together to confront urgent challenges like security, “we can’t lose sight of the larger relationship between our peoples, including the promise of Mexico’s economic progress,” President Obama said. “I believe we’ve got a historic opportunity to foster even more cooperation, more trade, more jobs on both sides of the border, and that’s the focus of my visit.”

The United States and Mexico have one of the largest economic relationships in the world. Our annual trade has now surpassed $500 billion — more than $1 billion every day. We are your largest customer, buying the vast majority of Mexican exports.  Mexico is the second largest market for U.S. exports. So every day, our companies and our workers -— with their integrated supply chains —- are building products together. And this is the strong foundation that we can build on.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico CityPresident Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, Mexico, May 3, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Before continuing on to Costa Rica, President Obama spoke to the people of Mexico at the National Anthropology Musuem about the “impressive progress of today’s Mexico,” which includes the country’s deepinging democracy and strengthening economy.

And because of all the dynamic progress that’s taking place here in Mexico, Mexico is also taking its rightful place in the world, on the world stage. Mexico is standing up for democracy not just here in Mexico but throughout the hemisphere.  Mexico is sharing expertise with neighbors across the Americas. When they face earthquakes or threats to their citizens, or go to the polls to cast their votes, Mexico is there, helping its neighbors. Mexico has joined the ranks of the world’s largest economies.  It became the first Latin American nation to host the G20.

“Just as Mexico is being transformed, so are the ties between our two countries,” President Obama said.

As President, I’ve been guided by a basic proposition — in this relationship there’s no senior partner or junior partner; we are two equal partners, two sovereign nations. We must work together in mutual interest and mutual respect.  And if we do that both Mexico and the United States will prosper.

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Full Text Obama Presidency May 3, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech to the People of Mexico at National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, Mexico

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President to the People of Mexico

Source: WH, 5-3-13 

Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Obama spoke at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City on Friday.

Anthropology Museum
Mexico City, Mexico

9:29 A.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hola!  (Applause.)  Buenos dias!  Please, please, everybody have a seat.  It is wonderful to be back in México — lindo y querido.  (Applause.)  I bring with me the greetings and friendship of the people of the United States, including tens of millions of proud Mexican Americans.  (Applause.)

This is my fourth visit to Mexico as President.  This is my second visit to this museum.  And each time that I’ve come I’ve been inspired by your culture and by the beauty of this land, and most of all, by the Mexican people.  You’ve been so kind and gracious to me.  You’ve welcomed my wife, Michelle, here.  (Applause.)  You’ve welcomed our daughter, Malia, and her classmates to Oaxaca.  And as a proud father, I have to say that Malia’s Spanish is getting very good.  It helps that she’s smarter than I am.

And it’s an honor to be back in Mexico City — one of the world’s great cities.  Es un placer estar entre amigos.  (Applause.)

And it’s fitting that we gather at this great museum, which celebrates Mexico’s ancient civilizations and their achievements in arts and architecture, medicine and mathematics.  In modern times, Mexico’s blend of cultures and traditions found its expression in the murals of Rivera and the paintings of Frida, and the poetry of Sor Juana and the essays of Octavio Paz.  And Paz once spoke words that capture the spirit of our gathering here today — in this place that celebrates your past, but which this morning is filled with so many young people who will shape Mexico’s future.  Octavio Paz said, “Modernity is not outside us, it is within us.  It is today and the most ancient antiquity; it is tomorrow and the beginning of the world; it is a thousand years old and yet newborn.”

And that’s why I wanted this opportunity to speak with all of you today, because you live at the intersection of history that Octavio Paz was referring to.  The young people of Mexico, you honor your heritage, thousands of years old, but you’re also part of something new, a nation that’s in the process of remaking itself.  And as our modern world changes around us, it’s the spirit of young people, your optimism and your idealism, and your willingness to discard old habits that are no longer working that will drive the world forward.

You see the difference between the world as it is and the world as it could to be; between old attitudes that stifle progress and the new thinking that allows us to connect and collaborate across cultures.  And by the way, that includes how we think about the relationship between Mexico and the United States.

Despite all the bonds and the values that we share, despite all the people who claim heritage on both sides, our attitudes sometimes are trapped in old stereotypes.  Some Americans only see the Mexico that is depicted in sensational headlines of violence and border crossings.  And let’s admit it, some Mexicans think that America disrespects Mexico, or thinks that America is trying to impose itself on Mexican sovereignty, or just wants to wall ourselves off.  And in both countries such distortions create misunderstandings that make it harder for us to move forward together.  So I’ve come to Mexico because I think it’s time for us to put the old mind-sets aside.  It’s time to recognize new realities — including the impressive progress of today’s Mexico. (Applause.)

It is true that there are Mexicans all across this country who are making courageous sacrifices for the security of your country; that in the countryside and the neighborhoods not far from here, there are those who are still struggling to give their children a better life.  But what’s also clear is that a new Mexico is emerging.

I see it in the deepening of Mexico’s democracy, citizens who are standing up and saying that violence and impunity is not acceptable; a courageous press that’s working to hold leaders accountable; a robust civil society, including brave defenders of human rights who demand dignity and rule of law.  You have political parties that are competing vigorously, but also transferring power peacefully, and forging compromise.  And that’s all a sign of the extraordinary progress that’s taken place here in Mexico.

And even though we know the work of perfecting democracy is never finished — that’s true in America, that’s true here in Mexico — you go forward knowing the truth that Benito Juarez once spoke — “democracy is the destiny of humanity.”  And we are seeing that here in Mexico.  (Applause.)  We’re seeing that here in Mexico.

We’re also seeing a Mexico that’s creating new prosperity:  Trading with the world.  Becoming a manufacturing powerhouse — from Tijuana to Monterrey to Guadalajara and across the central highlands — a global leader in automobiles and appliances and electronics, but also a center of high-tech innovation, producing the software and the hardware of our digital age.  One man in Querétaro spoke for an increasing number of Mexicans.  “There’s no reason to go abroad in search of a better life.  There are good opportunities here.”  That’s what he said, and you are an example of that.

And, in fact, I see a Mexico that’s lifted millions of people from poverty.  Because of the sacrifices of generations, a majority of Mexicans now call themselves middle class, with a quality of life that your parents and grandparents could only dream of.  This includes, by the way, opportunities for women, who are proving that when you give women a chance, they will shape our destiny just as well as men, if not better.  (Applause.)

I also see in Mexico’s youth an empowered generation because of technology.  I think I see some of you tweeting right now — (laughter) — what’s happening.  (Laughter.)  And whether it’s harnessing social media to preserve indigenous languages, or speaking up for the future that you want, you’re making it clear that you want your voice heard.

And because of all the dynamic progress that’s taking place here in Mexico, Mexico is also taking its rightful place in the world, on the world stage.  Mexico is standing up for democracy not just here in Mexico but throughout the hemisphere.  Mexico is sharing expertise with neighbors across the Americas.  When they face earthquakes or threats to their citizens, or go to the polls to cast their votes, Mexico is there, helping its neighbors.  Mexico has joined the ranks of the world’s largest economies.  It became the first Latin American nation to host the G20.

Just as Mexico is being transformed, so are the ties between our two countries.  As President, I’ve been guided by a basic proposition — in this relationship there’s no senior partner or junior partner; we are two equal partners, two sovereign nations. We must work together in mutual interest and mutual respect.  And if we do that both Mexico and the United States will prosper. (Applause.)

And just as I worked with President Calderón, I’ve reaffirmed with President Peña Nieto that the great partnership between our two countries will not simply continue, it’s going to grow stronger and become broader.  In my time with President Peña Nieto, I’ve come to see his deep commitment to Mexico and its future.  And we share the belief that as leaders our guiding mission is to improve the lives of our people.  And so we agree that the relationship between our nations must be defined not by the threats that we face but by the prosperity and the opportunity that we can create together.  (Applause.)

Now, as equal partners, both our nations must recognize our mutual responsibilities.  So here in Mexico, you’ve embarked on an ambitious reform agenda to make your economy more competitive and your institutions more accountable to you, the Mexican people.  As you pursue these reforms, I want you to know that you have strong support in the United States.  Because we believe, I believe, that people all around the world deserve the best from their government.  And whether you’re looking for basic services, or trying to start a new business, we share your belief that you should be able to make it through your day without paying a bribe.  And when talented Mexicans like you imagine your future, you should have every opportunity to succeed right here in the country you love.

And in the United States, we recognize our responsibilities.  We understand that much of the root cause of violence that’s been happening here in Mexico, for which many so Mexicans have suffered, is the demand for illegal drugs in the United States.  And so we’ve got to continue to make progress on that front.  (Applause.)

I’ve been asked, and I honestly do not believe that legalizing drugs is the answer.  But I do believe that a comprehensive approach — not just law enforcement, but education and prevention and treatment — that’s what we have to do.  And we’re going to stay at it because the lives of our children and the future of our nations depend on it.

And we also recognize that most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States.  (Applause.) I think many of you know that in America, our Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms, and as President I swore an oath to uphold that right and I always will.  But at the same time, as I’ve said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to pass common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people.  That can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. It’s the right thing to do.  (Applause.)  So we’ll keep increasing the pressure on gun traffickers who bring illegal guns into Mexico.  We’ll keep putting these criminals where they belong — behind bars.

We recognize we’ve got work to do on security issues, but we also recognize our responsibility — as a nation that believes that all people are created equal — we believe it’s our responsibility to make sure that we treat one another with dignity and respect.  And this includes recognizing how the United States has been strengthened by the extraordinary contributions of immigrants from Mexico and by Americans of Mexican heritage.  (Applause.)

Mexican Americans enrich our communities, including my hometown of Chicago, where you can walk through neighborhoods like Pilsen, Little Village — La Villita — dotted with murals of Mexican patriots.  You can stop at a fonda, you can hear some mariachis, where we are inspired by the deep faith of our peoples at churches like Our Lady of Guadalupe.  We’ve got a Chicagoan in here somewhere.  (Applause.)

And we’re so grateful to Mexican Americans in every segment of our society — for teaching our children, and running our companies, and serving with honor in our military, and making breakthroughs in science, standing up for social justice.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. told Cesar Chavez once, we are “brothers in the fight for equality.”  And, in fact, without the strong support of Latinos, including so many Mexican Americans, I would not be standing today as President of the United States.  (Applause.)  That’s the truth.

And so given that is Americas heritage, given that we share a border with Mexico, given ties that run back generations, it is critical that the United States recognize the need to reform our immigration system — (applause) — because we are a nation of laws, but we’re also a nation of immigrants.  Like every nation we have a responsibility to ensure that our laws are upheld.  But we also know that, as a nation of immigrants, the immigration system we have in the United States right now doesn’t reflect our values.  It separates families when we should be reuniting them. It’s led to millions of people to live in the shadows.  It deprives us of the talents of so many young people — even though we know that immigrants have always been the engine of our economy, starting some of our greatest companies and pioneering new industries.

That’s one of the reasons I acted to lift the shadow of deportation from what we call the DREAMers — young people brought to the United States as children.  (Applause.)  And that’s why I’m working with our Congress to pass common-sense immigration reform this year.  (Applause.)  I’m convinced we can get it done.   Reform that continues to strengthen border security and strengthen legal immigration, so citizens don’t have to wait years to bring their families to the United States.  Reform that holds everyone accountable — so immigrants get on the right side of the law and so immigrants are not exploited and abused.  And most of all, reform that gives millions of undocumented individuals a pathway to earn their citizenship.   And I’m optimistic that — after years of trying — we are going to get it done this year.  I’m absolutely convinced of it.  (Applause.)

Obviously, we’re going to have to work with the Mexican government to make sure that we’ve got a well-regulated border.  But I also want to work with the Mexican government because I believe that the long-term solution to the challenge of illegal immigration is a growing and prosperous Mexico that creates more jobs and opportunities for young people here.

I agree with the Mexican student who said, “I feel like we can reach the same level as anyone in the world.”  That’s absolutely true.  And so I firmly believe — juntos, podemos lograr más — together, we can achieve more.  (Applause.)  So with the remainder of my time today, I want to focus on five areas where we can do more.

Number one, let’s do more to expand trade and commerce that creates good jobs for our people.  We already buy more of your exports than any country in the world.  We sell more of our exports to Mexico than we do to Brazil, Russia, India and China combined.  (Applause.)  Mexican companies are investing more in the United States, and we’re the largest foreign investor in Mexico — because we believe in Mexico and want to be a partner in your success.

So guided by the new economic dialogue that President Peña Nieto and I announced yesterday, let’s do more to unlock the true potential of our relationship.  Let’s keep investing in our roads and our bridges and our border crossings so we can trade faster and cheaper.  Let’s help our smaller businesses, which employ most of our workers, access new markets and new capital — the big markets right across the border.  Let’s empower our young entrepreneurs as they create startup companies that can transform how we live.  (Applause.)  And let’s realize the Trans-Pacific Partnership this year, so our two nations can compete and win in the fast-growing markets of the Asia Pacific.  If the United States and Mexico are working together, we can sell a whole lot of things on the other side of the Pacific Ocean where the fastest-growing economies are taking off right now.  That’s number one.

Number two, let’s not just sell more things to each other, let’s build more things together.  With many of our companies operating in both countries, parts are now being shipped back and forth across the border as they’re assembled.  So every day, U.S. and Mexican workers are building things together — whether it’s crafts — or whether it’s cars, or aircraft, or computers, or satellites.

I think this is only the beginning.  Given the skills of our workers, it makes even more sense for companies around the world to set up shop in the United States and set up shop in Mexico.  And as Mexico reforms, we’re going to be able to do more business together and sell more goods around the world.  And the more that our companies collaborate, the more competitive they’ll be.  And the entire hemisphere will benefit because of those links and chains that have been created between our two countries.

Number three, as we secure our economic future, let’s secure our energy future, including the clean energy that we need to combat climate change.  Our nations are blessed with boundless natural beauty — from our coastlines and farmlands to your tropical forests.  But climate change is happening.  The science is undeniable.  And so is the fact that our economies must become greener.

In the United States, we’ve made historic commitments to clean and renewable energy like solar and wind power.  We’ve made a commitment to reduce the emissions of harmful carbon pollution.  And here in Mexico, you’re a leader in cutting carbon emissions and helping developing countries do the same.  So, together, let’s keep building new energy partnerships by harnessing all these new sources, and, by the way, creating the good jobs that come with these new technologies.  And let’s keep investing in green buildings and technologies that make our entire economy more efficient, but also make our planet cleaner and safer for future generations.  (Applause.)

Number four — and this is part of staying competitive — let’s do more together in education so our young people have the knowledge and skills to succeed.  (Applause.)  Here in Mexico you’ve made important progress, with more children staying in school longer, and record numbers of students like you getting a university education.  Just imagine how much the students of our two countries could do together, how much we could learn from each other.

And that’s why President Peña Nieto and I announced a new partnership in higher education — to encourage more collaboration between our universities and our university students.  (Applause.)  We’re going to focus on science and  technology, on engineering and mathematics.  And this is part of my broader initiative called 100,000 Strong in the Americas.  We want 100,000 students from the United States studying in Latin America, including Mexico.  And we want 100,000 Latin American students, including Mexican students, to come to study in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  Because when we study together, and we learn together, we work together, and we prosper together — that’s what I believe.  (Applause.)

And finally, to help spark prosperity in both out countries, let’s truly invest in innovation, and research and development together.  Here in Mexico, you’re now a global leader in graduating engineers and technicians.  One of Mexico’s leading scientists, Rafael Navarro-González, is helping analyze data from the rover that we landed on Mars.

So, together, let’s remember that every dollar, every peso that we invest in research and development returns so much more to our economies in jobs and opportunity, new products, new services.  That’s why I’m calling for us to forge new partnerships in aerospace, and IT, and nanotechnology and biotechnology and robotics.  Let’s answer the hope of a young woman — a student at the National Polytechnic Institute — who spoke for many in your generation, so eager to make your mark.  She said, “Give us jobs as creators.”  Give us jobs as creators.

Sometimes young people are known as just consumers of goods, but we want young people creating the new products, the next big thing that will change how we live our lives.  That’s the agenda that I want to pursue.

And I understand that there are those both here in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, but also back home in the United States, who are skeptical of your progress, who maybe doubt the  capacity for us to make the most of this moment.  There are always cynics who say, aw, this is too hard, the headwinds you face are too stiff.  They say Mexico has been here before we look like we’re making progress, we’re looking at a bright horizon, on the verge of great possibility, but then we get blown off course.
And it’s true that nothing is inevitable.  Progress and success is never guaranteed.  The future that you dream of, the Mexico you imagine — it must be built, it must be earned.  Nobody else can do it for you.  Only you can earn it.  You are the future.  As Nervo wrote in “La Raza de Bronce,” tu eres el sueño — you are the dream.  (Applause.)

For just as it was patriots who answered the call when Father Hidalgo rang the church bell two centuries ago, you — your lives, in a free Mexico — are the dream that they imagined.  And now it falls to you to keep alive those virtues for which so many generations of Mexicans struggled.

You are the dream that can stand up for justice and human rights and human dignity, here at home and around the world.  You’re the creators and the builders and the climbers and the strivers who can deliver progress and prosperity that will lift up not just the Mexican people for generations to come, but the entire world.

You’re the men and women who will push this nation upwards as Mexico assumes its rightful place, as you proudly sing: “in heaven your eternal destiny was written by the finger of God.”

You are the dream.  This is your moment.  And as you reach for the future, always remember that you have the greatest of  partners, the greatest if friends — the nation that is rooting for your success more than anybody else — your neighbor, the United States of America.  (Applause.)

Viva México!   Viva los Estados Unidos!   Que Dios los bendiga!  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
9:56 A.M. CDT

Full Text Obama Presidency May 2, 2013: President Barack Obama & Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Remarks in a Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Reaffirms the United States-Mexico Relationship

Source: WH, 5-2-13

President Barack Obama greets President Peña Nieto of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional

President Barack Obama greets President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the Palacio Nacional, Mexico City, Mexico, May 2, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On the first day of his trip to Mexico and Costa Rica, President Obama was in Mexico City for meetings and a joint press conference with President Peña Nieto.

The two leaders, who first met in Washington, DC last November, discussed the broad range of issues that bind our nations and affect the daily lives of citizens in both countries, and renewed their commitment to a strong relationship between the United States and Mexico….READ MORE

Remarks by President Obama and President Pena Nieto of Mexico in a Joint Press Conference

Source: WH, 5-2-13 

Palacio Nacional
Mexico City, Mexico

4:24 P.M. CDT

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  (As interpreted.)  Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon, everyone.  First and foremost, after the bilateral meeting, I would like to extend the warmest welcome to President Barack Obama, his team joining him.  Once again, we would like to welcome all of you with open arms, and we hope you feel at home.

We appreciate your will to have upon this meeting a relation built on mutual respect, collaboration for the benefit of our peoples.

Before we cover the areas that we have shared during our bilateral meeting, on behalf of the Mexican people, I would like to reiterate our solidarity for the regretful acts that were committed in your country — in Boston and in West, in Texas.  Unfortunately, it took the lives of American citizens.

If you allow me, I would like to share with the audience and the members of the media the areas that we have addressed with President Obama during the meeting that we just have had.

First of all, we have reached an agreement that the relation between Mexico and the United States should be broad in terms of the areas that it covers.  It should open up opportunity and collaboration spaces in different arenas, with a very clear purpose in mind to make the North American region a more productive and competitive region that will, end result, trigger the enormous potential that our peoples have, that our nations have.  And we’re well aware of the fact that we can take stock of our bilateral relation within the framework of the agreements made, we have reached a new level of understanding as our two new administrations that began roughly at the same time — the second term of President Obama and my administration.

Among the items that we covered I can speak for how relevant trade and commerce is in Mexico-U.S. relation.  We have dimension of all the achievements made upon the free trade agreement and the benefits that our economies have received from it.  The exports made from the U.S. to its top trade partners, Mexico and Canada, this represents one-third out of each three products that are exported from the U.S. and only the relation with Mexico is higher than the one the U.S. has with European countries like the U.K., France, the Netherlands all together, or the exports sent to China and Japan together doesn’t reach the level that the U.S. has with Mexico.

I must stand out that the integration of our economies in the last years has shown to be relevant and the content of exports sent from Mexico have 40 percent of U.S. input.  Therefor I can conclude that the more growth Mexico shows and the more capacity to export, the more benefit the U.S. gets.  Jobs are created in Mexico; therefore jobs are created in the United States.

Therefore, one of the first agreements that we have made was to create a high-level dialogue that, within its framework, will foster trade and commerce with the United States.  This means that for the first time — and probably this is unprecedented — we will have the Mexican economic cabinet with their counterparts from various government agencies from the United States, as well as high-ranking officials.  And we’ve heard from the President that in this group, the Vice President of the United States will participate in order to set a dialogue that will result in arrangements in terms of how the government can support all the efforts made by the private sector in order to have stronger economic integration.

For this purpose, we have agreed that during the fall of this year, this high-level group will meet for the first time with the attendance of high-ranking officials to start working in the area of the economy.

We have also agreed to endeavor joint actions to have a safer border.  Within the framework of the agreement made, we will have a 21st century border that was about to be defined the work and action agenda that our teams have already set up.  And now, through this agenda, we will have safer borders that will enable and expedite the transit of people and goods that every day cross our borders.

We have also agreed to create a bi-national group in order to find joint actions and joint mechanisms to support entrepreneurs in both of our countries, and by this we will boost the SMEs in our countries.  We believe that this mechanism will serve as an enabler and it will see further development for these small and medium-size companies that are present in both of our countries.  And we hope that all the actions in the very near future will make the SMEs in the future becoming large enterprises.  And this action will favor specifically young entrepreneurs in both our countries.

Thirdly, to boost our economy and our potential, we have agreed to create a bilateral forum on higher education, innovation and research.  Two government agencies will work together — CONACYT and the National Science Foundation from the U.S. — and presidents from Mexico and U.S. universities will be part of this group.  And by this, more exchanges will happen between Mexico and the U.S., and students coming from the U.S. to Mexico.

We have agreed that higher education serves as a platform to boost the economic potential that we have in our nations.  In order to compete with the world, specifically the highly developed countries where science and technology have been the target of their efforts and investment, it is fundamental that we have well-prepared youngsters with the skills necessary to give our economic development a greater strength and a greater capacity.

In a different arena, we have addressed security.  We have both recognized the level of cooperation that the U.S. has shown towards the Mexican government.  And the strategy in the area of security in our country has a very clear purpose, and that is to fight organized crime in all of its forms, be it drug dealing, kidnapping for ransom, extortion, or any crime perpetrated.  We are not going to renounce that responsibility as a government and my administration.  We’re going to face crime in all of its forms.

But in our new strategy we have emphasized the fact that we will reduce violence.  Fortunately systems between Mexicans to fight organized crime and reduce violence are not objectives that contradict each other.  There is no clash between these two goals.  These are two goals that fall within the framework of one same strategy.  And President Obama’s administration has expressed his will, as we know, to cooperate on the basis of mutual respect, to be more efficient in our security strategy that we are implementing in Mexico.

I have shared with President Obama as well what Mexico has done during the first months of my administration.  I have shared with President Obama that Mexico has reached maturity in terms of its democracy.  All political forces in the country have reached political maturity, and have shown to be civil and have managed to show respect to each other and also towards the government of Mexico.  Together we have managed to set up a working agenda that, end result, will advance the reforms that will transform this structure that Mexico needs to boost its development.  I have shared with President Obama the fact that we recognize all political voices in Mexico.

Finally, I would like to share with all of you that we fully agree that our nations, our peoples must move from being neighbors to being part of a community.  We are already part of a trade integration process.  We have reached high levels of development.  But still there is potential to make of our nations, through collaboration and integration of North America we can make a more productive and a more competitive region.

I would like to conclude by quoting the words that former President Kennedy shared during his visit to Palacio Nacional 51 years ago, under former President Adolfo López Mateos — we have shared this quote with President Obama, but I would like to share it with all of you.

President Kennedy said to President López Mateos, “Geography has made us neighbors.  Tradition has made us friends.”  Let us not allow a gap to fall between what nature has united.  And that is why we vow so that this understanding, this dialogue climate that we have set up, end result, will give us more growth, more development and more opportunities for our peoples.

Once again, allow me to reiterate, President Obama, and this goes for your delegation as well, you are warmly welcomed to Mexico and I hope that your stay is fruitful and you enjoy your stay in Mexico as well.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Muchas gracias, Señor Presidente, to President Peña Nieto for your kind words and your extraordinary hospitality.  As President-elect, you were the first leader I welcomed to the White House after our election.  It was a sign of our extraordinarily close relationship between our two countries.

During Enrique’s visit, I noted that he spent time as a student in the United States in one of our most beautiful states, the state of Maine.  I must say, though, Maine is very cold, and so when I come here on a beautiful spring day here in this beautiful city, I understand why you came back home.

I want to thank you for your hospitality.  I look forward to joining you and the First Lady, la Señora Rivera, this evening.  And I want to thank all the people of Mexico for such a warm welcome.  It’s always a pleasure to visit.

As President Peña Nieto discussed, between our two countries, we’re some 430 million people.  Ten million — tens of millions of Mexican Americans enrich our national life in the United States.  Well over 1 million Americans live here in Mexico.  Every year, millions of tourists — most of them from the United States — visit this magnificent country.  Every day, millions of workers in our countries earn a living from the jobs that are made possible by our trade, and more than 1 million people cross our shared border — businesspeople, students, educators, scientists, researchers, collaborating in every sphere of human endeavor.

In other words, Mexico and the United States have one of the largest, most dynamic relationships of any two countries on Earth.  And yet, we don’t always hear about all aspects of these extraordinary ties because too often two issues get attention:  security or immigration.

Obviously these are serious challenges, and President Peña Nieto and I discussed them in depth today.  I agreed to continue our close cooperation on security, even as the nature of that cooperation will evolve.  As I told the President, it is obviously up to the Mexican people to determine their security structures and how it engages with other nations, including the United States.  But the main point I made to the President is that we support the Mexican government’s focus on reducing violence, and we look forward to continuing our good cooperation in any way that the Mexican government deems appropriate.

I also reaffirmed our determination in the United States to meet our responsibilities — to reduce the demand for illegal drugs and to combat the southbound flow of illegal guns and cash that help to fuel violence.

Again, I want to pay tribute to the people of Mexico, who’ve made extraordinary sacrifices for their security, and display great courage and resolve every day.

But even as we continue to deal with these urgent challenges, we can’t lose sight of the larger relationship between our peoples, including the promise of Mexico’s economic progress.  I believe we’ve got a historic opportunity to foster even more cooperation, more trade, more jobs on both sides of the border, and that’s the focus of my visit.

The United States and Mexico have one of the largest economic relationships in the world.  Our annual trade has now surpassed $500 billion — more than $1 billion every day.  We are your largest customer, buying the vast majority of Mexican exports.  Mexico is the second largest market for U.S. exports.  So every day, our companies and our workers -— with their integrated supply chains —- are building products together.  And this is the strong foundation that we can build on.

I want to commend President Peña Nieto and the Mexican people for the ambitious reforms that you’ve embarked on to make your economy more competitive, to make your institutions more effective.  And I know it’s hard, but it’s also necessary.

Ultimately, only Mexicans can decide how Mexico reforms.  But let me repeat what I told the President — as Mexico works to become more competitive, you’ve got a strong partner in the United States, because our success is shared.  When one of us prospers, both of us prosper.  And that’s the context for the progress that we made today.

As the President mentioned, we’re, first of all, creating a high-level dialogue to broaden and deepen our economic relationship.  On our side, it will be led by members of my Cabinet.  Vice President Biden will participate as well.  Together with Mexico, we’ll focus on increasing the connections between our businesses and workers, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship and making our economies even more competitive.

To that end, we also reaffirmed our goal of concluding negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership this year.  This would be another major step in integrating our two economies and positioning us to compete in the fastest-growing markets in the world, those in the Asia Pacific region.  We want to be able to sell more goods from Mexico and the United States.  And if we’re partnering together, we can do even better.

We agreed to continue making our shared border even more efficient — with new infrastructure and new technologies — so it’s even faster and cheaper to trade and do business together.  We reaffirmed our commitment to the clean energy partnerships that allow our two countries to enhance our energy security and combat climate change.  And I’m very pleased that we’ve agreed to expand collaborations and exchanges between our students, our schools and our universities.

Just as Enrique once studied in our country, we want more Mexicans studying in the United States, and we want more American students studying here in Mexico.  And we’re going to focus on science and technology and engineering and math to help our young people -— including our daughters -— succeed in this global economy.

And finally, I updated the President on our efforts in the United States to pass common-sense comprehensive immigration reform that lives up to our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, including generations of Mexican Americans.

As we do, I think it’s important for everybody to remember that our shared border is more secure than it’s been in years.  Illegal immigration attempts into the United States are near their lowest level in decades, and legal immigration continues to make both of our countries stronger and more prosperous and more competitive.

And this, in part, reflects the economic progress and greater opportunities here in Mexico.  I think this progress should help inform the debate in the United States.  And I’m optimistic that we’re finally going to get comprehensive immigration reform passed.

I’ll have much more to say about this and some other issues in my speech tomorrow.  But for now, I want to express my gratitude to the President for his hospitality and also for your leadership.  And given the progress that we’re seeing here in Mexico, I see so many opportunities to continue to deepen the extraordinary friendship and common bond that we share between our two great nations and our two great peoples.  I know we will do that.

So thank you very much.  Muchas gracias.  (Applause.)

MODERATOR:  Now, we will have a round of four questions.

Q    To the President of Mexico, we welcome gladly that the agenda is — there is no speculation on the priority topics to be included in your agendas.  Could you clarify this high-level group, please, as you have pointed out, will overcome efficiently the results of a fight that these two nations had on the issue of security?  It seems to be that trade is now a priority; no longer security is.

And for President Obama, given your expertise during this second administration, what is your take on Enrique Peña Nieto’s new administration in terms of reforms?  You have acknowledged the reforms made so far.  Is the U.S. government seeing this reform as on the part of the administration, or a pact?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  Thank you very much.  We have relaunched our relationship and we have agreed on the climate in which we’re going to work.  We have defined our priorities.  We don’t want to make this relationship targeted on one single issue.  We want to grow in our relation to include different areas, and we want to specially emphasize our relation on the trade relation potential between Mexico and the U.S.

We’re also going to cover other areas.  Of course, public safety is included, and we have shared our view on that topic to work towards reducing violence by combatting efficiently organized crime.

And I must insist we have reviewed the long list of potential and opportunities that we have identified in the economic relation between the U.S. and Mexico in the area of trade and commerce.  President Obama has already put it for the U.S.  We represent a market that receives their exports — we’re the second export destination, and in our case, the United States ranks first.  We need to identify the areas where we can supplement each other’s production of goods and exports and goods from Mexico to the world, because these goods have a high content of U.S. input.

As I have stated, this means that if Mexico does well in its productive capabilities — that is to say by creating more labor and its capability to export more products — the U.S. will benefit, and vice versa.

That is why this high-level meeting foresees the participation of officials that are a part of my cabinet.  The U.S. has not a tradition of having cabinets like the ones we have, but President Obama has decided that high-ranking officials from different government agencies will participate, including the U.S. Vice President.  They will be part of this high-level group that will define specific actions.

What has been done so far in the private sector complementarity has happened.  And we have seen a good flow of trade between our countries.  There is no doubt that even when it has reached a certain level we can push it further.  We can extend its capabilities if both of our governments identify the right mechanisms, the right formula to boost economic integration.  And that is precisely the agreement that we have reached today.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, just on the security issue, I think it’s natural that a new administration here in Mexico is looking carefully at how it’s going to approach what has obviously been a serious problem.  And we are very much looking forward to cooperating in any ways that we can to battle organized crime, as President Peña Nieto stated.

And we anticipate that there’s going to be strong cooperation, that on our side of the border, we have continued work to do to reduce demand and to try to stem the flow of guns and cash from North to South.

So this is a partnership that will continue.  I think that President Peña Nieto and his team are organizing a vision about how they can most efficiently and effectively address these issues.  And we will interact with them in ways that are appropriate, respecting that ultimately Mexico has to deal with its problems internally and we have to deal with ours as well.

With respect to the President’s agenda, we had a wonderful relationship with President Calderón and the previous administration.  The bonds between our two countries go beyond party.  If a Republican president replaces me there’s still going to be great bonds between Mexico and the United States because not just the geography, but friendship and our interactions.

But what I have been impressed with is the President’s boldness in his reform agenda.  He’s tackling big issues.  And that’s what the times demand.  We live in a world that is changing rapidly, and in both the United States and in Mexico we can’t be caught flat-footed as the world advances.

We have to make sure that our young people are the best educated in the world.  And that means that some of the old ways of educating our kids may not work.  We have to make sure that we’re staying at the forefront of science and technology.  And that means we’ve got to make sure that we’re investing in those areas appropriately.  We have to make certain that our economies are competitive around the world and that, when it comes to energy, that we’re addressing issues like climate change, but also making sure that it’s done in a way that’s creating jobs and businesses on both sides of the border.

And so what I very much appreciate is the President’s willingness to take on hard issues, because sometimes I think there’s a temptation once somebody is elected to just stay elected, as opposed to trying to make sure that we use our time as well as we can to bring about the kind of changes will help move the country forward.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  Administration officials, including Secretary Hagel, say that the U.S. is now more seriously considering sending weapons to the Syrian rebels.  How has your thinking on the effectiveness of such a step evolved as the violence in Syria has continued?  And do you now see lethal aid as the best option available for a U.S. escalation in Syria?

I also had a question on immigration that I was hoping you both could address.  Senator Rubio said today that on the immigration bill being considered on Capitol Hill it may not pass the Senate unless the border security measures are strengthened. Are you concerned that an effort to bolster those border security triggers may make a pathway to citizenship almost impossible for many people already in the U.S. illegally, including many Mexicans?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, on Syria, what Secretary Hagel said today is what I’ve been saying now for months, which is we are continually evaluating the situation on the ground, working with our international partners to find the best way to move a political transition that has Assad leaving, stabilizes the country, ends the killing, and allows the Syrian people to determine their own destiny.  And we’ve made enormous investments not just in humanitarian aid but also in helping the opposition organize itself and make sure that it has a consistent vision about how it’s operating.

And as we’ve seen evidence of further bloodshed, potential use of chemical weapons inside of Syria, what I’ve said is, is that we’re going to look at all options.  And we know that there are countries that are currently providing lethal aid to the opposition.  We also know that the Assad regime is getting not just lethal aid but also training and support from countries outside of Syria.  And we want to evaluate and make sure that every step that we take advances the day when Assad is gone and you have people inside of Syria who are able to determine their own destiny rather than engage in a long, bloody sectarian war.

And we’ll continue to evaluate that every step of the way.  But as I mentioned in my press conference back in D.C., we want to make sure that we look before we leap and that what we’re doing is actually helpful to the situation as opposed to making it more deadly or more complex.

With respect to immigration reform, I expressed to President Peña Nieto that I’m optimistic about us getting this done because it’s the right thing to do.  We’ve seen leaders from both parties indicate that now is the time to get comprehensive immigration reform done.  And part of what we discussed is the importance of getting it done precisely because we do so much business between our two countries that for us to constantly bog down on these border issues and debates instead of moving forward with a 21st century border that’s maintaining security, and that is making sure that legal immigration and legal trade and commerce is facilitated, but at the same time ensures that we’re not seeing a lot of illegal traffic, and allows us to continue to be a nation of immigrants that has contributed so much to the wealth and prosperity of our nation — if we’re going to get that done, now is the time to do it.

And the bill that Senator Rubio and others put forward I think is a great place to start.  It doesn’t contain everything I want, and I suspect that the final legislation will not contain everything I want.  It won’t contain everything that Republican leaders want either.  But if we can get a basic framework that secures our border, building on the extraordinary success we’ve already had and the cooperation we’ve had with the Mexican government, that cracks down on employers who are not taking the law seriously, that streamlines and enhances our legal immigration system — because the problems with our legal immigration system often force people into the illegal immigration system — and provides a pathway to citizenship for those who are currently living in the shadows inside of the United States — if it has those elements, then we should be able to build on that.  And we can have arguments about other elements of this as we go further, but that’s the core of what we need.

And frankly, we’ve put enormous resources into border security.  Don’t take my word for it; you had folks like Senator McCain and Senator Graham come down to the border and see the progress that’s been made.  There are areas where there’s still more work to be done.  Some of it, by the way, is not simply securing the United States from illegal traffic; some of it is also improving the infrastructure, which we talked about, for commerce to be able to come in smoothly, which creates jobs and helps our businesses both in the United States and in Mexico.

But what I’m not going to do is to go along with something where we’re looking for an excuse not to do it as opposed to a way to do it.  And I think we can — I think if all sides operate in good faith that can be accomplished.

PRESIDENT PENA NIETO:  On that matter, allow me to note that the Mexican government acknowledges the efforts made and the leadership made by President Barack Obama and your Congress to eventually pass an immigration bill.  Mexico understands that this is a domestic affair for the U.S. and we wish you the best push that you’re giving to immigration.

That is what I have to say in terms of the foreign press.

Q    Thank you very much.  Good afternoon.  Mr. President, good afternoon.  I would like to ask you both specifically what would be the most important outcome of President Obama’s visit to Mexico, on the one hand?  That is my question.  And I would like to ask you as well:  Have you considered the possibility to scale up the Mexico-U.S. relation and to integrate the region further? This could lead to a bi-national strategy in terms of fighting organized crime trans-nationally.  Thank you very much for your answers.

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  Thank you very much.  In order to conclude this meeting, I would like to say that we have revitalized our relation between two governments that have two new administrations — this is President Obama’s second term, and this new administration for Mexico.  The climate in which we are strengthening our relation is based on cordiality; our relation is based on respect; it’s based on cooperation and collaboration in all of those areas that we share a common interest.

We are not going to target this relation in one specific area.  We want to address multiple issues.  We want to work on an agenda that would allow us to identify all the potential areas that could help us advance our agenda.

We have emphasized trade and commerce during this visit because we have made a thorough analysis of the U.S. and Mexico trade relations — have analyzed trade flows and how our economies complement each other.  And there is potential if we truly want to become in a more productive and more competitive North America region, well, that’s what we need to do first to compete with other regions in the world.

Those are the highlights and specifically the agreements made to create a high-level dialogue, the bilateral forum to advance academic exchanges and to work towards science and innovation in both of our countries.

Also we will have a bi-national dialogue to foster SMEs.  Undoubtedly these are mechanisms that, end result, will help us project further the economic and trade relation that Mexico has with the United States.

And certainly, I must insist, let me say it very clearly, the cooperation that we already have with the U.S. in the area of security, let me tell you that under this new strategy, we’re going to order things up.  We’re going to make it institutional. The channels will be very clear.  We’re going to use one single channel in order to be more efficient, to attain better results.

And we have reached a very good understanding with the U.S. government.  They know why we’re emphasizing violence reduction in our strategy.  President Obama has expressed his respect to the strategy that Mexico’s government will define in the area of security, and they have shown to be willing to cooperate with us in order to reach the goals that we have set up to have a peaceful Mexico where there is security.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I think President Peña Nieto summarized it well.  Let me give you one specific example, and that is the work that our countries are doing together around the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP.

Our largest trading partner is Canada.  Our second largest trading partner is Mexico.  So North America has already become far more integrated economically than it was 10 years or 20 years ago.  There are suppliers from Mexico who sell to U.S. companies that in turn sell back into Mexico or sell to Canada or sell around the world.  There are jobs that are created in Mexico, jobs that are created in the United States.  All of our economies have grown as a consequence of the work that’s taking place together.

But as I said, the world is changing.  So the fastest growing part of the world is the Asia Pacific region — huge markets.  And by us working closely together to upgrade and revamp our trade relationship we’re also in a position to project outward and start selling more goods and services around the world.  And that means more jobs and more businesses that are successful in Mexico and in the United States.

Some of that is going to be bilateral.  So finding ways that we can reduce trade frictions, improving our transportation and our infrastructure cross-border, how we can improve our clean energy cooperation — already you have a situation in which energy that is created in power plants in California sometimes is sold during nonpeak times into Mexico.  And then when it’s peak times in California, then it’s sold back into California, which makes it more efficient on both sides of the border, and that reduces the cost for consumers on both sides.  Those are the kinds of very specific areas that we can continue to refine and improve on.  And that’s what this high-level economic dialogue will accomplish.

But even as we’re improving our bilateral negotiations, what it also allows us to do, then, is to say we’re aligned in projecting both to the Pacific and to the Atlantic in saying let’s make sure that we’re taking advantage of all the economic opportunities that are taking place around the world.

When the United States prospers, Mexico does well.  And when Mexico does well, the United States does well.  And that I think is the main message of my visit here today.  That’s what I want to make sure we’re focused on, because certainly in the United States — and I know here in Mexico as well — when the economy is growing, when people have opportunity, then a lot of our other problems are solved — or at least we have the resources to solve them.  And so that is something that we really want to make sure that we’re focused on during the rest of my term in office and during President Peña Nieto’s term in office.

Q    Thank to you both.  Mr. President, I wanted to ask about a domestic issue if I could, the FDA rule on the morning-after pill that came out this week that prohibits girls under 15 from buying the morning-after pill without a prescription.  I’m wondering what your opinion on the rule is, and if it resolves some of the concerns you expressed last year when you talked about your role as a father and how that’s influenced your thinking on this, and if you believe that there’s scientific evidence to justify the 15 year-old cutoff.

And for President Peña Nieto, I wanted to ask you about gun control.  The President’s most recent attempt to pass new legislation on guns just failed in the Senate.  You’ve spoken out on this before.  I’m wondering if you talked to him about this in your meeting and if you would urge him — have urged him to try again, or if there’s more that you think the White House could do administratively, without approval from Congress, to resolve the issue.  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, on the FDA issue, let me make a couple points clear.  Number one, this is a decision made by the FDA and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  It’s not my decision to make.

The first time around where there were no age restrictions, Secretary Sebelius expressed concerns and I supported those concerns.  And I gave voice to them in the press room back in DC.
The rule that’s been put forward by the FDA Secretary Sebelius has reviewed; she’s comfortable with, I’m comfortable with.

The second point I want to make is I’m very supportive of contraception because I think it’s very important that women have control over their health care choices and when they are starting a family.  That’s their decision to make.  And so we want to make sure that they have access to contraception.  As you know we had a little bit of a fuss around what we’re doing with the Affordable Care Act, but I very much think that’s the right thing to do.

So the current ruling is actually — you phrased it as prohibiting — I think you could phrase it as they’re now allowing these contraceptives to be sold over the counter for 15-year-olds and older.  It has not resolved the question of girls younger than 15.

There was a court case that came up that is being appealed by the Justice Department.  That’s a Justice Department decision. My understanding is part of it has to do with the precedent and the way in which the judge handled that case.  And my suspicion is, is that the FDA may now be called upon to make further decisions about whether there’s sufficient scientific evidence for girls younger than 15.

That’s the FDA’s decision to make.  That’s Secretary Sebelius’s decision to review.  But I’m very comfortable with the decision they’ve made right now based on solid scientific evidence for girls 15 and older.

I know you didn’t direct the question to me, though, I do want to editorialize just for a second about gun control.   As I think all your Mexican counterparts understand and as I talked about with President Peña Nieto, we recognize we’ve got obligations when it comes to guns that are oftentimes being shipped down South and contributing to violence here in Mexico.

But, frankly, what I’m most moved by are the victims of gun violence not just in Mexico but back home — like the parents in Newtown.  And I said the day that the legislation that had been proposed by Senators Manchin and Toomey in the Senate — the day that that failed to get 60 votes — that that was not the end; this was the beginning.
The last time we had major gun legislation it took six, seven, eight tries to get passed.  Things happen somewhat slowly in Washington, but this is just the first round.  And when you’ve got 90 percent of the American people supporting the initiatives that we put forward around background checks and making sure that drug traffickers, for example, can’t just send in somebody with a clear record to purchase guns on their behalf with no way of tracking or stopping that, when you had common-sense legislation like that that the overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners, those of us who strongly support the Second Amendment, all of us supporting, I believe that eventually we’re going to get that done.  And I’m going to keep on trying.

So I didn’t mean to horn in on President Peña Nieto’s response, but I just want to be clear that we’re going to keep at this.  One thing I am is persistent.

PRESIDENT PEÑA NIETO:  In that regard, I believe that we are in agreement with President Obama’s words.  And what Mexico would like to see happening in the U.S. — that is to control better the sales of weapons — and we cannot ignore the efforts made by President Obama’s administration in order to approve the better control of weapons — if Mexico could add itself up to this important sector of the U.S. population — 90 percent in favor of gun control — we would do it.  But this is a domestic issue in the United States.

In terms of the areas that we are working in collaboration, areas that we can address is specifically to address the fact that weapons bought in the U.S. could be brought to Mexico.  Regretfully, many lives of Mexicans have been lost due to that illegal smuggling of weapons bought in the United States that have reached Mexican soil.  We have made our commitment, and we’re working on it to work together towards making our borders safer.  We are fighting illegal smuggling of weapons.

Mexico vows towards the efforts made by your government, and we’ll keep on supporting you to have better gun control in your country.  But we’re not going to wait until that happens.  We are working by using more intelligence information, and we are taking action to have safer borders so that we don’t have weapons being smuggled into Mexico that regretfully end up hurting many Mexicans.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, everybody.  Muchas gracias.  (Applause.)

END
5:15 P.M. CDT

Political Headlines May 2, 2013: In Mexico, President Barack Obama Says Immigration Reform Is Critical to Trade

POLITICAL HEADLINES

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/pol_headlines.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

In Mexico, President Obama Says Immigration Reform Is Critical to Trade

Source: ABC News Radio, 5-2-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama arrived in Mexico City Thursday, where the economy and trade were intended to top the agenda of his three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica.

With Congress poised to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, however, border security and immigration reform are overshadowing much of the public discussion….READ MORE

Full Text Barack Obama Presidency November 27, 2012: President Obama and President-Elect Enrique Peña Nieto’s of Mexico Speeches Before Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL BUZZ

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

President Obama Welcomes Mexico President-Elect Enrique Peña Nieto

Source: WH, 11-27-12

President Obama meets with President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto (November 27, 2012)President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico in the Oval Office, Nov. 27, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon, President Obama welcomed Enrique Peña Nieto, the President-elect of Mexico, to the Oval Office.

By long-standing tradition, newly elected Mexican presidents hold early meetings with the United States, in part because it symbolizes the close relationship between our two countries.

And President-elect Peña Nieto is himself no stranger to the United States, having spent a year in Maine as a student.

“But I think that’s representative of the strength of the relationship between the United States and Mexico,” President Obama said. “It’s not just a matter of policy, but it’s a matter of people, as represented by the many U.S. citizens who travel to Mexico, who live in Mexico, and obviously the incredible contribution that Mexican Americans make to our economy, our society, and to our politics.”

President Obama noted that President-elect Peña Nieto’s reform agenda is one that Americans will watch closely — as what happens in Mexico affects our society as well.

The president-elect was also quick to draw parallels between himself and President Obama.

“We were both congressmen — legislators, as we say in Spanish — in our respective congresses in our own countries,” he said. “And this means we’re very sensitive to the needs of our peoples. And we also share a very important vision, the vision for instance of creating more jobs. We know this is very important, not only for the American people but also for the Mexican peoples, for both of our nations.”

On Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden will lead the U.S. delegation to the President-elect Peña Nieto’s inauguration.

Watch their full remarks here

Remarks of President Obama and President-Elect Peña Nieto of Mexico Before Bilateral Meeting

Oval Office

4:00 P.M. EST

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it is my great pleasure to welcome President-elect Peña Nieto to the Oval Office and to the White House. This is a longstanding tradition where — almost unique I think in the relationship between countries — we meet early with the President-elect of Mexico because it symbolizes the extraordinarily close relationship we have between our two countries.

Over the last four years, I’ve been able to work with President Felipe Calderón and I think we established an excellent working relationship so I wish him all the best in his new life.

And I’m very confident that I’m going to establish a strong personal as well as professional relationship with the President-elect, who I know has an outstanding reputation for wanting to get things done.

Now, President Peña Nieto I think represents the close ties between our two countries because I understand that he lived in the United States in Maine for a year, where the winters are even worse than Chicago, my hometown. (Laughter.)

But I think that’s representative of the strength of the relationship between the United States and Mexico. It’s not just a matter of policy, but it’s a matter of people, as represented by the many U.S. citizens who travel to Mexico, who live in Mexico, and obviously the incredible contribution that Mexican Americans make to our economy, our society, and to our politics.

I know that President Peña Nieto has a very ambitious reform agenda, and we are very much looking forward to having a fruitful discussion here today about not only how we can strengthen our economic ties, our trades ties, our coordination along the border, improving our joint competitiveness, as well as common security issues. But I think what I know the President-elect is also interested in is a discussion about both regional and global issues, because Mexico has become not simply an important bilateral partner, but is today a very important multilateral, multinational leader on a whole range of issues from energy to climate change, and we look forward to working with Mexico not only on regional issues, but also on global issues.

And just as President-elect Peña Nieto’s reform agenda is of great interest to us because what happens in Mexico has an impact on our society, I know he’s interested in what we do as well on issues like comprehensive immigration reform. And I’ll be sharing with him my interest in promoting some issues that are important to the United States, but ultimately will be important to Mexico as well.

So Mr. President-elect, I want to welcome you. Congratulations on your outstanding victory. Vice President Biden will be leading our delegation to your inauguration. We only send the Vice President to inaugurations when the country is really at the top of the list in importance to us and so we just want to wish you well and I look forward to an excellent relationship in the years to come.

PRESIDENT-ELECT PEÑA NIETO: (As interpreted.) Thank you very much, President Barack Obama. It’s truly a great pleasure to be here with you. I feel so happy and thank you for your hospitality. This is of course my first visit as President-elect of Mexico and I also want to congratulate you for your victory last November 6th for your second term as President of the United States. I of course wish you great success and I know you have a great task before you, but I know, I trust that you will be doing a wonderful job.

And I also want to thank you so much, President Obama, for having Vice President Joseph Biden go to Mexico for my inaugural ceremony next Saturday, December first. I feel so pleased to be able to have Vice President Biden represent you in Mexico. And of course we’re waiting for him and your delegation with open arms.

And I find that this is an opportunity we only have every 12 years. We’re practically beginning our administration, same that you’ll be starting your next four-year term, I will be starting a six-year administration in Mexico, as you well know, and I think this is really a great opportunity for all of us to have a closer link of brotherhood, of sisterhood, of collaboration, and of course, of great accomplishments we might both have working together.

Yes, and I believe that we have very important tasks before us that are common, as a matter of fact. For instance, we have many common things. We were both congressmen — legislators, as we say in Spanish — in our respective congresses in our own countries. And this means we’re very sensitive to the needs of our peoples. And we also share a very important vision, the vision for instance of creating more jobs. We know this is very important, not only for the American people but also for the Mexican peoples, for both of our nations. These are two very important demands in our countries.

And we do have the opportunity to grow, but not only that, we also have the opportunity to integrate North America, to be participating in this part of the world. And I am so pleased that this is the situation we’re in.

And of course, as I said, to increase the integration of North America, to really take advantage of the open spaces we have for our work — and not only in this part of the world, but also with Asia, of course and just mentioning for instance the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership. And my government is of course very much interested in strengthening this, because we believe that this is going to be a great opportunity for all of us.

Yes, and of course in terms of security that’s another major challenge we all face. My government has set out to reduce the violence situation in our country. And for that, of course, we have set out to launch a strategy for this purpose. And I will do everything we can for this. We want to have — we have the will to have cooperation, efficient cooperation with respect, respect for our sovereign states. And of course in terms of the border, we want our border to be a safe, modern, connected border, legal border — that’s exactly what we’ve set out to accomplish.

Yes, and in terms of the reform for migration, the migration reform, we do have to tell you that we fully support your proposal, sir, for this migration reform. More than demanding what you should do or shouldn’t do, we do want to tell you that we want to contribute. We really want to participate with you. We want to contribute towards the accomplishment, so that of course we can participate in the betterment and the well-being of so many millions of people who live in your country and who are also participating. So we want to be part of this.

And I trust that we’ll be able to have a very close relationship in our work, Mr. President. And of course I want to invite you to come to Mexico, a state visit. And as you know, next year in 2013, we’re going to be holding the North American Summit, the leaders’ summit. And you’re of course invited. And we really hope to see you there. We’ll be waiting for you with open arms.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Any excuse to go to Mexico, I’m always game. In fact, I’m jealous of Joe Biden. (Laughter.) But anyway, thank you very much. Welcome. Thank you, everybody.

END
4:17 P.M. EST

Full Text Obama Presidency June 20, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Press Conference at the End of the G20 Summit

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

The G20 Summit

President Obama meets with the leaders of the world’s major advanced and emerging economies in Los Cabos, Mexico for the G20 Summit.

President Obama greets President Felipe Calderón of Mexico
President Obama greets President Felipe Calderón of Mexico, Chuck Kennedy, 6/18/12

President Obama Speaks at the End of the G20 Summit

Source: WH, 6-20-12

After two days of policy discussions and meetings with leaders from the world’s major economies, President Obama held a press conference to discuss his takeaways from the G20 Summit.

The ongoing economic crisis in Europe was a central focus of the top-level conversations.

“[This] has been an opportunity for us to hear from European leaders on the progress they’re making and on their next steps — especially in the wake of the election in Greece,” he said. “It’s also been a chance for the international community, including the United States — the largest economy in the world, and with our own record of responding to financial crises — to stress the importance of decisive action at this moment.”

The President stressed that it’s important for Europeans to take ownership over the situation, and said that leaders from the continent understand the stakes and are ready to take the steps necessary to secure stability and growth.

But he also said that the United States could do more to bolster the global economy.

“As the world’s largest economy, the best thing the United States can do is to create jobs and growth in the short term, even as we continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long term,” he said.

Read President Obama’s full remarks, including his answers to reporters, here.

Or check out a photo gallery of images from the Summit.


Learn more:

Remarks by President Obama at Press Conference After G20 Summit

Convention Center
Los Cabos, Mexico

5:47 P.M. MDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I want to begin by thanking my good friend and partner, President Calderon, and the people of Los Cabos and Mexico for their outstanding hospitality and leadership.  Mexico is the first Latin American country to host a G20 summit, and this has been another example of Mexico playing a larger role in world affairs, from the global economy to climate change to development.

Since this is my last visit to Mexico during President Calderon’s time in office, I want to say how much I’ve valued Felipe’s friendship and the progress that we’ve made together over the past several years.  And building on the spirit here at Los Cabos, I’m absolutely confident that the deep ties between our countries will only grow stronger in the years to come.

Now, over the past three years, these G20 summits have allowed our nations to pull the global economy back from a free fall and put us back on the path of recovery and growth.  In the United States, our businesses have created jobs for 27 months in a row — more than 4 million jobs in all — and our highest priority continues to be putting people back to work even faster.

Today, we recognize that there are a wide range of threats to our ongoing global economic recovery and growth.  But the one that’s received the most focus obviously and that does have a significant impact on the United States as well as globally is the situation in Europe.  As our largest trading partner, slower growth in Europe means slower growth in American jobs.  So we have a profound interest in seeing Europe prosper.  That’s why I’ve been consulting closely with my European counterparts during this crisis, as we’ve done here at Los Cabos.

I do think it’s important to note, however, that most leaders of the eurozone, the economies are not part of the G20.  The challenges facing Europe will not be solved by the G20 or by the United States.  The solutions will be debated and decided, appropriately, by the leaders and the people of Europe.

So this has been an opportunity for us to hear from European leaders on the progress they’re making and on their next steps — especially in the wake of the election in Greece, and because they’re heading into the EU summit later this month.  It’s also been a chance for the international community, including the United States — the largest economy in the world, and with our own record of responding to financial crises — to stress the importance of decisive action at this moment.

Now, markets around the world as well as governments have been asking if Europe is ready to do what is necessary to hold the eurozone together.  Over the last two days European leaders here in Cabos have made it clear that they understand the stakes and they pledged to take the actions needed to address this crisis and restore confidence, stability, and growth.  Let me just be a little more specific.

First, our friends in Europe clearly grasp the seriousness of the situation and are moving forward with a heightened sense of urgency.  I welcome the important steps that they have already taken to promote growth, financial stability and fiscal responsibility.  I’m very pleased that the European leaders here said that they will take all necessary measures to safeguard the integrity and stability of the eurozone, to improve the functioning of the financial markets.  This will contribute to breaking the feedback loop between sovereigns and banks, and make sovereign borrowing costs sustainable.

I also welcome the adoption of the fiscal compact and it’s ongoing implementation, assessed on a structural basis, together with a growth strategy which includes structural reforms.

G20 leaders all supported Europe working in partnership with the next Greek government to ensure that they remain on a path to reform and sustainability within the eurozone.  Another positive step forward was the eurozone’s commitment to work on a more integrated financial architecture — including banking supervision, resolution, and recapitalization, as well as deposit insurance.  Also, in the coming days Spain will lay out the details of its financial support request for its banks restructuring agency, providing clarity to reassure markets on the form and the amount and the structure of support to be approved at the earliest time.

It’s also positive that the eurozone will pursue structural reforms to strengthen competitiveness in deficit countries, and to promote demand and growth in surplus countries to reduce imbalances within the euro area.

And finally, I welcome the fact that Europe is determined to move forward quickly on measures to support growth and investment including by completing the European single market and making better use of European funds.

Of course, Europe is not, as I said, the only source of concern when it comes to global growth.  The G20 also agreed that reversing the economic slowdown demands a renewed focus on growth and job creation.

As the world’s largest economy, the best thing the United States can do is to create jobs and growth in the short term, even as we continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long term.  And as part of that effort, we’ve made significant progress in advancing our trade agenda.  This is an essential to promoting growth, innovation and jobs in the United States.

Here in Los Cabos, we announced important steps towards closer integration with three of our major trading partners.  Both Mexico and Canada have been invited to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, which is an ambitious 21st century trade agreement that will now include 11 countries.  And this agreement holds enormous opportunities to boost trade in one of the world’s fastest growing regions.

Even as we build this new framework for trade in the Asia Pacific, we’re also working to expand our trade with Europe.  So today, the United States and the European Union agreed to take the next step in our work towards the possible launching of negotiations on an agreement to strengthen our already very deep trade and investment partnership.

In addition, and in keeping with our commitments at the last G20 in Cannes, we agreed that countries should not intervene to hold their currencies at undervalued levels, and that countries with large surpluses and export-oriented economies needed to continue to boost demand.

So, in closing, I’d note that with Mexico’s leadership, we continue to make progress across a range of challenges that are vital to our shared prosperity — from food security to Greek economic growth that combats climate change, from financial education and protection for consumers to combating corruption that stifles economic growth, and in strengthening financial regulation to creating a more level playing field.  All of this happened in large part because of the leadership of President Calderón.  I want to thank him, and I want to thank my fellow leaders for their partnership as we work very hard to create jobs and opportunity that all of our citizens deserve.

So with that, I’m going to start with Ben Feller of AP.

Q    Thank you very much, Mr. President.  We’re all hearing a lot of encouraging promises about what Europe plans to do, but can you assure us that those actions, if they’re able to come together on them, will actually do anything to create jobs in America this year?  And if Europe is not able to rally in a big way pretty quickly, do you think that will cost you the election?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, first of all, I think that what I’ve heard from European leaders during the course of these discussions is they understand the stakes.  They understand why it’s important for them to take bold and decisive action.  And I’m confident that they can meet those tests.

Now, I always show great sympathy for my European friends because they don’t have to deal with one Congress — they have to deal with 17 parliaments, if you’re talking about the eurozone.  If you’re talking about the European Union, you’re talking about 27.  And that means that sometimes, even after they’ve conceived of approaches to deal with the crisis, they have to work through all the politics to get it done.  And markets are a lot more impatient.

And so what I’ve encouraged them to do is to lay out a framework for where they want to go in increasing European integration, in resolving the financial pressures that are on sovereign countries.  Even if they can’t achieve all of it in one full swoop, I think if people have a sense of where they’re going, that can provide confidence and break the fever.  Because if you think about Europe, look, this remains one of the wealthiest, most productive regions of the world.  Europe continues to have enormous strengths — a very well-educated, productive workforce.  They have some of the biggest, best-run companies in the world.  They have trading relationships around the world.  And all of these problems that they’re facing right now are entirely solvable, but the markets, when they start seeing potential uncertainty, show a lot more risk aversion, and you can start getting into a negative cycle.

And what we have to do is it to create a positive cycle where people become more confident, the markets settle down, and they have the time and the space to execute the kinds of structural reforms that not only Europe, but all of us are having to go through, in balancing the need for growth, but also dealing with issues like debt and deficits.  And I’m confident that over the next several weeks, Europe will paint a picture of where we need to go, take some immediate steps that are required to give them that time and space.  And based on the conversations that I’ve had here today and the conversations that I’ve had over the last several months, I’m confident that they are very much committed to the European project.

Now, all this affects the United States.  Europe as a whole is our largest trading partner.  And if fewer folks are buying stuff in Paris or Berlin, that means that we’re selling less stuff made in Pittsburgh or Cleveland.  But I think there are a couple of things that we’ve already done that help.  The financial regulatory reforms that we passed means that our banks are better capitalized.  It means that our supervision and our mechanisms for looking at trouble spots in our financial system are superior to what they were back in 2008.  That’s an important difference.  But there’s still some more things we can do.

And the most important thing we can do is something that I’ve already talked about.  If Congress would act on a jobs plan that independent economists say would put us on the path of creating an extra million jobs on top of the ones that have already been created — putting teachers back in the classroom, putting construction workers back on the job rebuilding infrastructure that badly needs to be rebuilt — all those things can make a significant difference.  And given that we don’t have full control over what happens in Europe or the pace at which things happen in Europe, let’s make sure that we’re doing those things that we do have control over and that are good policy anyway.

Q    ((inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s fair to say that any — all these issues, economic issues, will potentially have some impact on the election.  But that’s not my biggest concern right now.  My biggest concern is the same concern I’ve had over the last three and a half years, which is folks who are out of work or underemployed or unable to pay the bills — what steps are we taking to potentially put them in a stronger position.  And I consistently believed that if we take the right policy steps, if we’re doing the right thing, then the politics will follow.  And my mind hasn’t changed on that.

Jeff Mason, Reuters.  Where’s Jeff?

Q    Thank you, sir.  My question is about Syria.  Did President Putin of Russia indicate any desire on Russia’s part for Assad to step down or to leave power?  And did you make any tangible progress in your meetings with him or with Chinese President Hu in finding a way to stop the bloodshed there?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, these were major topics of conversation in both meetings.  And anybody who’s seen scenes of what’s happening in Syria I think recognizes that the violence is completely out of hand, that civilians are being targeted, and that Assad has lost legitimacy.  And when you massacre your own citizens in the ways that we’ve seen, it is impossible to conceive of a orderly political transition that leaves Assad in power.

Now, that doesn’t mean that that process of political transition is easy.  And there’s no doubt that Russia, which historically has had a relationship with Syria, as well as China, which is generally wary of commenting on what it considers to be the internal affairs of other countries, are and have been more resistant to applying the kind of pressure that’s necessary to achieve that political transition.

We had a very candid conversation.  I wouldn’t suggest that at this point the United States and the rest of the international community are aligned with Russia and China in their positions, but I do think they recognize the grave dangers of all-out civil war.  I do not think they condone the massacres that we’ve witnessed.  And I think they believe that everybody would be better served if Syria had a mechanism for ceasing the violence and creating a legitimate government.

What I’ve said to them is that it’s important for the world community to work with the United Nations and Kofi Annan on what a political transition would look like.  And my hope is, is that we can have those conversations in the coming week or two and that we can present to the world, but most importantly, to the Syrian people, a pathway whereby this conflict can be resolved.

But I don’t think it would fair to say that the Russians and the Chinese are signed on at this point.  I think what is fair to say is that they recognize that the current situation is grave; it does not serve their interests; it certainly does not serve the interests of the Syrian people.  And where we agree is that if we can help the Syrian people find a path to a resolution, all of us would be better off.

But it’s my personal belief — and I shared this with them  — that I don’t see a scenario in which Assad stays and violence is reduced.  He had an opportunity with the Annan plan.  They did not fulfill their side of the deal.  Instead we saw escalation and murder of innocent women and children.  And at this point, we have the international monitors that were sent in having to leave because of this violence that’s being perpetrated.  And although you’ll hear sometimes from some commentators that the opposition has engaged in violence as well, and obviously there’s evidence of that, I think it’s also fair to say that those haunting images that we saw in places like Hom were the direct result of decisions made by the Syrian government and ultimately Mr. Assad is responsible.

Q    Did either of them talk about Syria without Assad?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  We had an intensive conversation about it. If you’re asking me whether they signed on to that proposition, I don’t think it would be fair to say that they are there yet.  But my — I’m going to keep on making the argument and my expectation is, is that at some point there’s a recognition that it’s hard to envision a better future for Syria while Assad is still there.

Julianna Goldman.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  One of Mitt Romney’s economic advisors recently wrote in a German publication that your recommendations to Europe and to Germany in particular reveal ignorance of the causes of the crisis, and he said that they have the same flaws as your own economic policies.  I want to get your response to that, and also to follow up on Ben’s question.  Europe has been kicking the can down the road for years, so why are you any more convinced that we won’t see another three-month fix emerge out of Brussels at the end of the month?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, first of all, with respect to Mr. Romney’s advisors, I suggest you go talk to Mr. Romney about his advisors.  I would point out that we have one President at a time and one administration at a time, and I think traditionally the notion has been that America’s political differences end at the water’s edge.  I’d also suggest that he may not be familiar with what our suggestions to the Germans have been.  And I think sometimes back home there is a desire to superimpose whatever ideological arguments are taking place back home on to a very complicated situation in Europe.

The situation in Europe is a combination of things.  You’ve got situations where some countries did have undisciplined fiscal practices, public debt.  You had some countries like Spain whose problems actually arose out of housing speculation and problems in the private sector that didn’t have to do with public debt.

I think that there’s no doubt that all the countries in Europe at this point recognize the need for growth strategies inside of Europe that are consistent with fiscal consolidation plans — and by the way, that’s exactly what I think the United States should be thinking about.  The essence of the plan that I presented back in September was how do we increase growth and jobs now while providing clarity in terms of how we reduce our deficit and our debt medium and long term.

And I think that’s the right recipe generally — not just for us, but across the board.

You had a second question.  What was it?

Q    Why are you —

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Why am I confident?  Well, look, I don’t want to sound Pollyanna-ish here.  Resolving the issues in Europe is difficult.  As I said, there are a lot of players involved.  There are a lot of complexities to the problems, because we’re talking about the problems of a bunch of different countries at this point.  Changing market psychology is very difficult.  But the tools are available.  The sense of urgency among the leaders is clear.  And so what we have to do is combine that sense of urgency with the tools that are available and bridge them in a timely fashion that can provide markets confidence.  And I think that can be done.

Hopefully — just to give an example — when Spain clarifies exactly how it intends to draw down and utilize dollars — or not dollars, but euros to recapitalize its banking system, given that it’s already got support from other European countries, given that the resources are available, what’s missing right now is just a sense of specifics and the path whereby that takes place. When markets see that, that can help build confidence and reverse psychology.

So there are going to be a range of steps that they can take.  None of them are going to be a silver bullet that solves this thing entirely over the next week or two weeks or two months.  But each step points to the fact that Europe is moving towards further integration rather than breakup, and that these problems can be resolved — and points to the underlying strength in Europe’s economies.

These are not countries that somehow at their core are unproductive or dysfunctional; these are advanced economies with extraordinarily productive people.  They’ve got a particular challenge that has to do with a currency union that didn’t have all the best bells and whistles of a fiscal or a monetary union, and they’re catching up now to some of those needs.  And they just need the time and the space to do it.  In the meantime, they’ve got to send a strong signal to the market, and I’m confident they can do that.

All right.  Thank you very much, everybody.

END
6:12 P.M. MDT

Political Headlines June 20, 2012: House Oversight Committee Recommends Holding Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress Over Fast & Furious Scandal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

IN FOCUS: HOUSE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS HOLDING ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC H. HOLDER IN CONTEMPT OF CONGRESS OVER THE SCANDAL

House Committee Votes Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress: A congressional committee voted today to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to provide documents to congressional investigators from the Fast and Furious gun walking operation. Earlier this morning, the White House invoked executive privilege over the documents the committee subpoenaed more than eight months ago.
In a strictly party-line vote, the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved the citation 23 to 17, sending it on to the full House for future consideration as early as next week. Holder is not actually in contempt of Congress unless the full House approves the resolution, but he would become the first U.S. attorney general held in contempt of Congress if the vote passes…. – ABC News Radio, 6-20-12

Recommends Contempt Case Against Holder: Republicans on a House committee backed holding Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress in a dispute over documents tied to a botched gun trafficking operation…. – NYT, 6-20-12

 

  • House panel votes to cite Holder for contempt of Congress: A House oversight committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, marking an escalation of the long-running dispute between Republicans and the Justice Department over internal administration documents related … USA Today, 6-20-12
  • Holder found in contempt of Congress by House Oversight Committee: The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted to find Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt of Congress for failing to provide subpoenaed documents in the flawed Fast and Furious gun-tracking case, just hours after…. – LAT, 6-20-12
  • Fast and Furious scandal: House panel votes to hold Eric Holder in contempt: A House panel voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt for failing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into Operation “Fast and Furious,” hours after President Obama asserted executive privilege over related…. – WaPo, 6-20-12
  • House committee holds AG Holder in contempt: A House committee has voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over Justice Department documents. The straight party-line vote was 23-17. The vote followed a decision by President Barack Obama…. – Boston.com, 6-20-12
  • House Republicans vote to cite Holder for contempt in ‘Fast and Furious’ scandal: A House committee voted Wednesday along party lines to cite Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt, capping a mounting and contentious fight between congressional Republicans and the Obama … msnbc.com, 6-20-12
  • House panel finds Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt: A year-and-a-half long investigation into a botched gun trafficking program culminated Wednesday with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress…. – CBS News, 6-20-12
  • House Panel Votes To Hold Holder in Contempt: A House committee voted to sanction Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt of Congress, escalating a standoff between Republicans and the Obama administration over documents about a botched gun-trafficking operation…. – WSJ, 6-20-12
  • House panel recommends Holder contempt citation: Voting on strictly partisan lines, a House committee recommended Wednesday that Attorney General Eric Holder be cited for contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents relating to the botched Fast and Furious weapons sting…. – CNN, 6-20-12

Full Text Obama Presidency June 18. 2012: President Barack Obama’s Joint Statement with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin After Bilateral Meeting

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

A Bilateral Meeting with President Putin

Source: WH, 6-18-12
President Barack Obama participates in a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia (June 18, 2012)

President Barack Obama participates in a bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia at the Esperanza Resort in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, June 18, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This afternoon, President Obama had his first face-to-face meeting with his Russian counterpart — President Vladimir Putin — since the other leader was inaugurated in May.

After meeting for two hours, the men spoke briefly to reporters.

President Obama described the conversation as “candid, thoughtful and thorough.” He said:

Over the last three years, the United States and Russia have been able to make significant progress on a wide range of issues, including the New START Treaty, the 1,2,3 Agreement, the work we’ve done on Russia’s accession to the WTO, and setting up a presidential process whereby issues of trade and commerce, science, technology are all discussed at a much more intensive level.

We agreed that we need to build on these successes, even as we recognize that there are going to be areas of disagreement, and that we can find constructive ways to manage through any bilateral tensions.

The leaders also put out a joint statement that touched on many of these issues in further detail.

Joint Statement by the President of the United States of America Barack Obama and the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin

The United States of America and the Russian Federation confirm our commitment to strengthening close and cooperative relations for the benefit of the peoples of our countries, international peace, global prosperity, and security.  In recent years, we have laid a solid foundation for expanding our bilateral interaction in a variety of areas.  Today we agree to continue this work guided by the principles of the rule of law, respect for human rights, equality, and mutual respect.

One of the key tasks on our shared agenda is the expansion of trade and investment relations, which should foster mutual economic growth and prosperity.  To this end, we have agreed to prioritize the expansion and diversification of our bilateral trade and investment through nondiscriminatory access to our markets based on international rules.

An important step in this direction is Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has become possible thanks to our joint efforts.  In order for WTO rules and mechanisms to apply to our bilateral trade, the Obama Administration is working closely with the U.S. Congress to terminate, as soon as possible, application of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment with respect to Russia and extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations to the Russian Federation.  The United States has also welcomed and offered its support to Russia’s pursuit of membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Nuclear arms control and non-proliferation remain a special responsibility for the United States and Russia as the two states with the world’s largest nuclear weapons arsenals.  We reiterate our strong support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and our shared goal of universal adherence to and compliance with that Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s comprehensive safeguards, consistent with the Treaty’s Article III, and with the Additional Protocol.  We recognize the achievements made through the Nuclear Security Summits, including the removal and elimination of nuclear materials, minimization of the civilian use of highly enriched uranium, and worldwide improvements in a nuclear security culture.

We are continuing research on the feasibility of converting research reactors in the United States and Russia to low-enriched uranium fuel.  We agree to redouble bilateral efforts to improve nuclear security, counter nuclear smuggling, and combat nuclear terrorism, as well as to facilitate the beginning of negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament on a fissile material cutoff treaty that will halt production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, within the framework of a balanced program of work at the Conference.  We will strive for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

As a priority, we intend to successfully implement the New START Treaty, and to continue our discussions on strategic stability.  Despite differences in assessments, we have agreed to continue a joint search for solutions to challenges in the field of missile defense.

The pursuit of international peace and security remains a priority for the United States and Russia, recognizing how much we have to gain by working together to overcome the main challenges of this century.  While recognizing Iran’s right to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, we agree that Iran must undertake serious efforts aimed at restoring international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program.  To this end, Tehran must fully comply with its obligations under the relevant UN Security Council and IAEA Board of Governors resolutions, and cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency for the expedited resolution of all remaining issues.  Our common goal remains a comprehensive negotiated settlement based on the principles of a step-by-step approach and reciprocity, and we look forward to constructive engagement with Iran through the P5+1 process, including the latest round of talks taking place in Moscow on June 18-19.

We urge North Korea to come into compliance with all the relevant directives of the UN Security Council and fulfill its commitments under the Joint Statement by China, the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Russia, the U.S., and Japan of September 19, 2005.  We count on the DPRK not to commit acts that would escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula.  As partners in the Six-Party talks, we are prepared to continue the joint efforts to achieve verifiable denuclearization on the Korean peninsula in accordance with the Joint Statement of September 19, 2005.

We agree to cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally to solve regional conflicts.  In order to stop the bloodshed in Syria, we call for an immediate cessation of all violence and express full support for the efforts of UN/League of Arab States Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan, including moving forward on political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system that would be implemented by the Syrians themselves in the framework of Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity.  We are united in the belief that the Syrian people should have the opportunity to independently and democratically choose their own future.

The need for a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East has never been more apparent, and we will continue working with our Quartet partners to advance peace efforts on the basis of the Quartet statements of September 23, 2011, and April 11, 2012, and to strengthen the Palestinian Authority’s ability to meet the full range of civil and security needs of the Palestinian people, both now and in a future state.

The United States and Russia continue to face a common threat from al Qaeda and other terrorist groups operating in and around Afghanistan.  We recognize that this is a pivotal time for international efforts to strengthen security and promote economic development in Afghanistan, as well as to counter the narcotics threat.  With the successful implementation of bilateral and multilateral transit arrangements, Russia has made a significant contribution to international efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan.

We reiterate that the process leading to reconciliation must be truly Afghan-led and Afghan-implemented.  Reconciliation must include, as integral parts, a commitment to a sovereign, stable, and unified Afghanistan, breaking ties to al Qaeda, ending violence, and accepting the Afghan Constitution, including its human rights provisions, notably the rights of women.  We will explore opportunities to strengthen the Northern Distribution Network, to bolster regional security, and to expand cooperation as we fight terrorism and narcotics trafficking, taking advantage of the capabilities of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the NATO-Russia Council to enhance law-enforcement training for the region.

The United States of America and the Russian Federation intend to increase cooperation in addressing the world drug problem, so as to radically reduce production and consumption of illicit drugs, as affirmed by resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.  We are ready to continue active support of efforts undertaken by the international community to counteract illicit production and illegal trafficking and consumption of drugs.

The United States of America and the Russian Federation are committed to furthering our multifaceted cooperation to counter terrorism.  Both our nations face persistent and evolving domestic and transnational terrorist threats, including from terrorists based in North Africa, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  Acknowledging the global character of these challenges, we reaffirm our readiness for further joint work to implement the UN’s Global Counterterrorism Strategy, the UN Security Council resolutions and statements on terrorism, as well as to utilize other applicable international counterterrorism instruments, including counterterrorism sanctions regimes introduced by the UN Security Council with respect to al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The United States and Russia affirm our intent to work together to ensure the long-term success of the recently launched Global Counterterrorism Forum and continue to interact on various multilateral platforms, including the G-8 Roma/Lyon Group, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).  We will continue to work together to counter financial support for terrorism, disrupt the possible connections between terrorist networks and criminal groups, prevent the spread of violent extremism, and improve transportation security, including by concluding bilateral agreements in this field.

An important role in strengthening U.S.-Russian relations belongs to the Presidential Commission, created in July 2009, which coordinates our bilateral cooperation on the widest range of issues from strategic stability, energy and space, fighting terrorism and illegal drug trafficking and consumption– to public health, agriculture, the environment, civil society, and cultural and educational exchanges.  We are pleased to announce a new Working Group on Military-Technical Cooperation.  U.S.-Russian cooperation has been growing in the global fight against malaria.

This year we together celebrate the 200th anniversary of Fort Ross in California, which was founded by Russian settlers and underscores the historic ties between our countries.  In order to give our bilateral relations a new quality, we intend to pay special attention to broadening contacts between our peoples and societies, including by liberalizing the visa regime.  We welcome steps to bring into force the U.S.-Russian Agreement on Simplifying Visa Formalities, signed in 2011, which should make two-way travel by American and Russian tourist and business travelers easier.  We also commit to work together to ensure the rights and protections of adopted children.  This will be facilitated by bringing into force and implementing the bilateral adoptions agreement signed last year.

The United States of America and the Russian Federation will only be able to achieve positive new results by acting together for the purpose of strengthening the democracy, security, and prosperity of the American and Russian peoples, and by solving other complex challenges confronting our countries and the international community.

Remarks by President Obama and President Putin of Russia After Bilateral Meeting

Esperanza Resort
Los Cabos, Mexico

12:42 P.M. MDT

PRESIDENT PUTIN:  (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, this has been our second meeting.  I remember our lengthy meeting we had in Moscow.

Today we had a very meaningful and subject-oriented discussion.  We’ve been able to discuss issues pertaining to security.  We discussed bilateral economic relations.  In this regard, I’d like to thank you for the support rendered to Russia with our accession to the World Trade Organization.  I’m confident this will help to further develop the economic relations between our two countries, to promote the creation of jobs in both countries.

We also discussed international affairs, including the Syrian affair.  From my perspective, we’ve been able to find many commonalities pertaining to all of those issues.  And we’ll now further develop our contacts both on a personal level and on the level of our experts involved.

You visited the Russian Federation three years ago.  Now welcome again.  I invite you to visit Moscow.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.

We, in fact, did have a candid, thoughtful and thorough conversation on a whole range of bilateral and international issues.  Over the last three years, the United States and Russia have been able to make significant progress on a wide range of issues, including the New START Treaty, the 1,2,3 Agreement, the work we’ve done on Russia’s accession to the WTO, and setting up a presidential process whereby issues of trade and commerce, science, technology are all discussed at a much more intensive level.

We agreed that we need to build on these successes, even as we recognize that there are going to be areas of disagreement, and that we can find constructive ways to manage through any bilateral tensions.  In particular, we discussed the need to expand trade and commercial ties between the United States and Russia, which are still far below where they should be.  And I emphasized my priority of having Congress repeal Jackson-Vanik, provide permanent trade relations status to Russia so that American businesses can take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities now that Russia is a member of the WTO.

We discussed a range of strategic issues, including missile defense, and resolved to continue to work through some of the difficult problems involved there.

I thanked the President and the Russian people for the work they’ve done with us on the Northern Distribution Network that is vital to providing supplies and resources to our brave troops who are still in Afghanistan.

We emphasized our shared approach when it comes to the Iranian situation as members of the P5+1.  We agreed that there’s still time and space to resolve diplomatically the issue of Iran’s potential development of nuclear weapons, as well as its interest in developing peaceful nuclear power.

And finally, as Mr. President mentioned, we discussed Syria, where we agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war, and the kind of horrific events that we’ve seen over the last several weeks, and we pledged to work with other international actors including the United Nations, Kofi Annan, and all the interested parties in trying to find a resolution to this problem.

Mr. President, I look forward to visiting Russia again, and I look forward to hosting you in the United States.

Thank you, everybody.

END
12:53 P.M. MDT

Full Text Obama Presidency April 2, 2012: Three Amigos Summit: President Barack Obama Meets with Canadian PM Stephen Harper & Mexican President Felipe Calderon in One Day North American Leaders’ Summit — Speeches: Joint Statement & Press Conference

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

photo040212_01.jpg

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, US President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon meet at the White House. Photo by Paul Chiasson/CP

U.S., Canada and Mexico to Boost Trade

Source: AP, 4-2-12
President Obama, center, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon walked to a joint press conference at the White House on Monday.

President Barack Obama says the U.S., Canada and Mexico are launching a new bid to pare back regulation in hopes of boosting trade and creating more jobs.

At a three-way North American summit on Monday with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón, Mr. Obama said the three will “go through the books” to simplify regulations and eliminate others that aren’t needed.

Three-way trade among the U.S., Canada and Mexico now exceeds $1 trillion, and President Obama says he wants to see that number rise.

The three leaders also discussed immigration and the war on drugs during their one-day summit. Mr. Obama praised Mr. Calderón for “great courage” in standing up to Mexico’s cartels….READ MORE

Boosting Economic Growth Throughout North America

Source: WH, 4-2-12

President Obama today hosted the leaders of Mexico and Canada at the White House for a summit aimed at promoting economic growth and and creating jobs in all three countries.

Last year, U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada exceed $1 trillion for the first time. And finding ways to continue boosting exports was one goal of today’s talks.

At a press conference in the Rose Garden, President Obama was able to point to an initative that will help to accomplish that objective:

I’m pleased to announce that our three nations are launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle job creation. Here in the United States, our efforts to cut red tape and ensure smart regulations will help achieve savings and benefits to businesses, consumers, and our country of more than $100 billion. And we’re already working to streamline and coordinate regulations with Canada and Mexico on a bilateral basis. So now our three nations are going to sit down together, go through the books and simplify and eliminate more regulations that will make our joint economies stronger.

This builds on conversations between the U.S. and Canada that were announced when Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the White House back in December.

In today’s talks, the leaders also discussed security, energy, and efforts to combat drug cartels.

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Joint Statement by North American Leaders

Source: WH, 4-2-12

We, the Leaders of North America, met today in Washington, DC to advance the economic well-being, safety, and security of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.  Rooted in deep economic, historical, cultural, environmental, and societal ties, North American cooperation enhances our ability to face global challenges, compete in the international economy, and achieve greater prosperity.  We reaffirm our commitment to further develop our thriving political and economic partnership with a consistent and strategic long-term vision, as progress on our common agenda directly benefits the peoples of our region.

Broad-based, sustainable economic growth and job creation remains our top priority.  For the first time, in 2011 our total trilateral merchandise trade surpassed USD 1 trillion.  Our integration helps maximize our capabilities and makes our economies more innovative and competitive globally. Working together, we strive to ensure that North American economic cooperation fosters gains in productivity for all of our citizens, enhancing our respective national and bilateral efforts to achieve that goal.

To that end, we pledge to introduce timely and tangible regulatory measures to enable innovation and growth while ensuring high standards of public health, safety, and environmental protection.  We will continue to reduce transaction costs and improve the existing business environment.  We have launched the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council and the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council during the past two years, pursuing a shared objective that we commit to complement trilaterally in four sectors:  certain vehicle emission standards, railroad safety, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Workplace Chemicals, and aligning principles of our regulatory approaches to nanomaterials.  This is particularly important to small- and medium-sized businesses, which are the engines of growth.  By eliminating unnecessary regulatory differences, smaller businesses are better equipped to participate in an integrated North American economy.  Success in these efforts opens the way to additional North American regulatory cooperation.

Continued North American competitiveness requires secure supply chains and efficient borders.  We remain committed to achieving this through cooperative approaches.  To this end, the United States and Mexico released the Declaration Concerning Twenty-first Century Border Management in May 2010 and the United States and Canada released the Beyond the Border Action Plan:  A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness in December 2011.  We are committed to the mutually-reinforcing goals of these important initiatives and to their full implementation.  By also supporting the work of multilateral organizations to foster improved collaboration, integration, and standards, we better identify and interdict threats before they reach our borders, as well as expedite the legitimate movement of goods and people throughout North America in a more efficient, secure, and resilient manner.  We also have instructed our trade and commerce ministers to identify sectors where we can deepen our regional cooperation through increased trade and investment.

As leading sources of innovation and creativity, our three countries are committed to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR).  We commit to promote sound enforcement practices and an effective legal framework for IPR enforcement in the areas of criminal enforcement, enforcement at the border, civil and administrative actions, and distribution of IPR infringing material on the Internet consistent with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which the United States and Canada have recently signed.  Mexico will continue to work on a comprehensive reform to its legal system to achieve the high standards pursued under ACTA.

Energy cooperation reduces the cost of doing business and enhances economic competitiveness in North America.  We recognize the growing regional and federal cooperation in the area of continental energy, including electricity generation and interconnection and welcome increasing North American energy trade.  We commit our governments to work with all stakeholders to deepen such cooperation to enhance our collective energy security, including the safe and efficient exploration and exploitation of resources.  We support coordinated efforts to facilitate seamless energy flows on the interconnected grid and to promote trade and investment in clean energy technologies.

Enhanced electricity interconnection in the Americas would advance the goals of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas to reduce energy poverty and increase the use of renewable sources of energy.  We recognize Mexico’s leadership in supporting inter-connections in Central America and reaffirm our support to bring affordable, reliable, and increasingly renewable power to businesses and homes in Central America and the Caribbean while opening wider markets for clean energy and green technology.

We pledge to continue our efforts to advance a lasting global solution to the challenge of climate change.  We are pleased with the outcome of the climate conference in Durban, with respect to both operationalizing the Cancun agreements and laying the groundwork for a new legal agreement applicable to all Parties from 2020, support the activation of the Green Climate Fund, and underline the importance of climate finance and investment in the context of meaningful mitigation.  We plan to work together, including through the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, to secure a successful outcome at the 18th U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar.  We continue to advance the transition to a clean energy economy and cooperate to reduce global rates of deforestation and land degradation.   We also intend to deepen our trilateral cooperation and work with other interested partners to accelerate efforts aimed at reducing emissions of “short-lived climate pollutants,” noting the recently launched Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants in which we are all actively engaged.  Reducing our emissions of these substances, which include methane, black carbon, and many hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), offers significant opportunities to reduce the rate of global warming in the near term, in the context of our broader efforts to address climate change, while also yielding many health, agricultural productivity, and energy security benefits.

As our societies and economies become more reliant on networked technology, we recognize the growing importance of an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet.   We reaffirm the importance of multi-stakeholder governance bodies for the Internet and underscore that fighting cybercrime is essential to promoting economic growth and international security.   We recognize the seminal contribution of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, and believe the Convention should be adopted as widely as possible.  To that end, we look forward to Canada’s ratification and Mexico’s completion of the necessary preparations for its signature of the Convention.

At the 2009 North American Leaders’ Summit, we committed to build upon our successful coordinated response to the H1N1 pandemic, which stands as a global example of cooperation, to jointly prepare for future animal and pandemic influenza to enhance the health and safety of our citizens.  Today we announce the culmination of that effort—the North American Plan for Animal and Pandemic Influenza (NAPAPI)—which provides a collaborative and multi-sectoral framework to strengthen our response to future animal and pandemic influenza events in North America and commit to its implementation.

All of our citizens are adversely affected by transnational organized crime.  We commit to direct our national efforts and deepen our cooperation against all facets of this common challenge based on the principles of shared responsibility, mutual trust, and respect.  We intend to further share expertise and information and to cooperate in key areas such as countering arms trafficking and money laundering consistent with our laws and constitutions.

We are committed to strengthening security in the Americas through capacity building support.  We intend to enhance our cooperation with our partners in Central America.  In 2012, our governments will launch a consolidated Central America Integration System (SICA)-North America Security Dialogue to deepen regional security coordination and cooperation.   We will remain actively engaged in the ongoing SICA-Group of Friends of Central America collaborative process, to align international assistance and programs supporting the implementation of the Central American Regional Security Strategy.  We also welcome the recent High Level Hemispheric Meeting on Transnational Organized Crime, and recognize the relevance of closer collaboration and information sharing among all relevant national agencies.

We reiterate our commitment to Haiti and call upon Haitian political actors to work together and take concrete steps toward strengthening governance and the rule of law, which are fundamental to increased trade, investment, and long-term development and prosperity.  We note the urgency and importance of parliamentary confirmation of a new government, and for that government to confirm the timeline for Senate and local elections.  We also encourage Haiti to continue to pursue the development of the Haitian National Police so it can take full responsibility for Haiti’s security.

To further strengthen nuclear security on the North American continent, we worked together, along with the International Atomic Energy Agency, to convert the fuel in Mexico’s research reactor to low enriched uranium and provide new low enriched uranium fuel in exchange for the highly enriched uranium fuel, as pledged during the Washington Nuclear Security Summit in 2010 and announced at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012.

Our strengthened dialogue on priority issues in the North American agenda is reflected in the frequent formal and informal ministerial and technical meetings across a wide range of issues among our three countries, including the work of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission and the North American Commissions for Environmental Cooperation and for Labor Cooperation to continue to enhance our region’s prosperity, protect the environment, and improve working conditions in North America.  Taking into account our common security and defense challenges, such as transnational criminal organizations, as well as opportunities to strengthen cooperation in the field of disaster relief, we welcome the recent expansion of our ministerial-level dialogue through the North American Defense Ministers Meeting held March 26-27, 2012 in Ottawa.

As partners in the Americas, we are committed to work together within the Inter-American System and in the framework of the VI Summit of the Americas, to be held April 14-15 in Cartagena, Colombia.  We fully support the Summit’s theme of “Connecting the Americas:  Partners for Prosperity.”  The Summit provides an opportunity to leverage the ties that connect the Americas to advance democratic, transparent, accountable governance that promotes inclusive, sustainable, market-based economic growth in the decade ahead.  Deepening our shared interests and values will benefit the people of the Americas and bolster positive global engagement by countries from across the region.  We pledge to work together to ensure the Summit strengthens a shared commitment to work in equal partnership toward these goals.

In light of the importance of the Americas to our collective economic wellbeing, we are committed to working together to advance the principles approved by the Inter-American Competitiveness Network in Santo Domingo and to support the Pathways to Prosperity initiative which underscores the importance of empowering small businesses; facilitating trade; building a modern work force; and developing stronger labor and environmental practices to encourage inclusive economic growth.

We also recognize the value of our common understandings on the major challenges faced by the world today, and acknowledge the importance of promoting growth and of preserving and deepening trade as keys to the global economic recovery.  Canada and the United States support the efforts of the Mexican Presidency of the G-20 this year, and, together with Mexico, we commit ourselves to deepening our shared dialogue on economic governance therein, especially as we work to enhance North American competitiveness and prosperity.   The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) provides an opportunity to further deepen our trade relationship and create jobs.  The United States welcomes Canada’s and Mexico’s interest in joining the TPP as ambitious partners.

President Obama and Prime Minister Harper welcome President Calderon’s offer for Mexico to host the next North American Leaders’ Summit.

Joint Press Conference by President Obama, President Calderon of Mexico, and Prime Minister Harper of Canada

President Obama hosts the leaders of Mexico and Canada at the White House for a summit aimed at promoting economic growth and and creating jobs throughout North America.

President Obama holds a joint press conference
President Obama holds a joint press conference, White House Photo, Lawrence Jackson, 4/2/12

Rose Garden

1:54 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Please have a seat.  Good afternoon, everybody.  It is my pleasure to welcome two great friends and partners — President Calderón of Mexico and Prime Minister Harper of Canada.

Now, I’ve worked with Stephen and Felipe on many occasions.  We’ve joined our international partners from APEC to the G20.  From our last summit in Guadalajara, we remember Felipe’s hospitality and that of the Mexican people — including some very good mariachi and —

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  Mexican food.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  — some tequila, if I’m not mistaken.  (Laughter.)  I can’t reciprocate the music, but, Felipe, Stephen and I are proud to welcome you here today.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  Thank you.

Between us, we represent nearly half-a-billion citizens, from Nunavut in the Canadian north to Chiapas in southern Mexico.  In between, the diversity of our peoples and cultures is extraordinary.  But wherever they live, they wake up every day with similar hopes — to provide for their families, to be safe in their communities, to give their children a better life.  And in each of our countries, the daily lives of our citizens are shaped profoundly by what happens in the other two.  And that’s why we’re here.

Today, we focused on our highest priority — creating jobs and opportunity for our people.  In the United States, our businesses have created nearly four million new jobs; confidence is up and the economy is getting stronger.  But with lots of folks still struggling to find work and pay the bills, we are doing everything we can to speed up the recovery.  And that includes boosting trade with our two largest economic partners.

As President, I’ve made it a priority to increase our exports, and I’m pleased that our exports to Canada and Mexico are growing faster than our exports to the rest of the world.  In fact, last year trade in goods with our two neighbors surpassed $1 trillion — for the first time ever.  This trade supports some 2.5 million American jobs, and I want more trade supporting even more jobs in the future.

So today, Prime Minister Harper led us in a very good discussion about how our three countries can improve our competitiveness.  We agreed to continue making our borders more efficient and more secure so it’s faster and cheaper to travel and trade.  We’re expanding cooperation to create clean energy jobs and combat climate change — an area in which President Calderón and Mexico have been a real leader.

I’m pleased to announce that our three nations are launching a new effort to get rid of outdated regulations that stifle job creation.  Here in the United States, our efforts to cut red tape and ensure smart regulations will help achieve savings and benefits to businesses, consumers, and our country of more than $100 billion.  And we’re already working to streamline and coordinate regulations with Canada and Mexico on a bilateral basis.  So now our three nations are going to sit down together, go through the books and simplify and eliminate more regulations that will make our joint economies stronger.

This is especially important, by the way, for our small and medium-sized businesses, which, when they start exporting, often start with Mexico and Canada.  So this is going to help create jobs, and it’s going to keep us on track to meet my goal of doubling U.S. exports.

More broadly, I reiterated my commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, which would be good for workers and good for business.  I’m pleased that Canada and Mexico have also expressed an interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Consultations with our TPP partners are now underway on how new members can meet the high standards of this trade agreement, which could be a real model for the world.  And I very much appreciated President Calderón updating us on preparations for the next G20 summit, which he will be hosting in June.

Our other major focus today was the security that our citizens deserve.  Criminal gangs and narco-traffickers pose a threat to each of our nations, and each of our nations has a responsibility to meet that threat.  In Mexico, President Calderón has shown great courage in standing up to the traffickers and cartels, and we’ve sped up the delivery of equipment and assistance to support those efforts.

Here in the United States, we’ve increased cooperation on our southern border, and dedicated new resources to reducing the southbound flow of money and guns, and to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States, which helps fuel — helped to fuel this crisis.  And today each of us reaffirmed our commitment to meeting this challenge together — because that’s the only way that we’re going to succeed.

Beyond our borders, these cartels and traffickers pose an extraordinary threat to our Central American neighbors.  So we’re teaming up.  Defense ministers from our three countries met last week as a group — for the first time ever.  And we’re going to be coordinating our efforts more closely than ever, especially when it comes to supporting Central America’s new strategy on citizen security, which will be discussed at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia next week.

So, again, I want to thank Stephen and Felipe for being here.  When I came to office I pledged to seek new partnerships with our friends in the Americas, a relationship of equality and shared responsibility built on mutual interest and mutual respect.  That’s what we’ve done.  And it wouldn’t have been possible without the leadership and sense of purpose that these two outstanding leaders have brought to all our efforts, including our efforts today.  As a result, I believe our nations and our citizens will be more secure, more prosperous and in a better position to give their children the lives that they deserve.

So with that, let me turn it over to President Calderón.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  Thank you, President Obama.  (As interpreted.)  Your Excellency, Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America; Right Honorable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, ladies and gentlemen of the press; Mr. Ambassadors; legislators; friends:  First of all, I would like to thank President Barack Obama for his extraordinary hospitality and that of his government in hosting this Summit of the Leaders of North America.

And briefly, I would also like to express on behalf of the government of Mexico, the people of Mexico, my family and my own behalf, my most sincere sympathies to the family and relatives of former President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado for his lamentable death yesterday.  Tomorrow we will be rendering homage to him in Mexico.

The reasons for which we are here today at this Summit of North American Leaders with President Barack Obama and the Prime Minister of Canada, we’ve come through a work day that has been very fruitful and fluid with an exchange of opinions and progress to the benefit of our respective citizens.

I’m also very thankful to my two colleagues for the openness with which we have broached some very complex items on our working agenda.  I recognize and value their enormous commitment to our common region.

The leaders of North America share a vision of a strong, solidary, safe, competitive region that is able to successfully face head on the challenges of today.  We agree that our common challenges can only be faced together.  And therein lays the importance of having dialogue, strong dialogue, amongst our three countries.

The data that President Obama has just given us is very important, that our trade has exceeded $1 trillion for the first time.  And I think that that is not separate from a reality that has to be underscored.  In this very complex world full of economic problems and severe crises, Canada, the United States and Mexico are three countries that are growing right now and generating jobs today.

And that growth and those millions of jobs, many of them have to do precisely with the greatest trade exchanges that we have ever seen amongst these great nations.  I would say that the potential of North America tied to these three countries is such that within our own nations we have a great deal to do to make the most of these opportunities for greater exchanges amongst our peoples.

As we’ve mentioned today, we have progressed on various fronts.  For instance, we’ve advanced on the deregulation in our countries — in our own countries, as well as amongst our countries.  We have progressed as well in harmonization of certain standards that facilitate trade.  We’ve also progressed, in our case, on the bilateral relationship in border infrastructure.  And all of this has led, of course, to the benefit of Canadian, Mexican and American families.

Another line of ideas, I would also say that the three nations have renewed their decision to strengthen cooperation at the international level, particularly in issues as sensitive as the security of our citizens.  We have reiterated the values upon which our societies were founded:  democracy, liberty, justice, the respect for human rights.  And today the political dialogue amongst us is perhaps stronger than ever.

We have renewed certain principles of our existence and of our challenges:  The principle of shared responsibility, the exchange of information, and especially the strengthening of our institutions that has to be the guide of our cooperation.

Clearly, I expressed to President Obama and to Prime Minister Harper that the fight that Mexico is experiencing for a safer North America also requires a strengthening of national actions, amongst other things, to stop the traffic of weapons, to combat with greater strength money laundering, and, of course, to reduce the demand for drugs that strengthens criminal organizations.  I also expressed to President Obama and to Prime Minister Harper that Mexico recognizes the commitment that they have undertaken to progress along those lines.

It’s also necessary to strengthen the regional security focus, and in order to do this, we need to include our neighbors and Central American partners, who are also facing serious problems and who need our solidarity.  The three countries have agreed to establish a joint dialogue mechanism with the Central American Integration System — SICA — in support of the efforts undertaken by Central American nations to fight organized crime and in favor of regional security that benefits us all.

Of course, in this meeting, we have broached the topic of the regional economy.  The leaders of North America agree that the United States, Canada and Mexico must continue to delve deeper into our successful economic relationship so as to generate more jobs and greater well-being in all three countries.

Our governments recognize that it is absolutely necessary to continue to fully comply with the NAFTA, as well as to explore new means of strengthening regional competitiveness.  And I am convinced that if we work together, we will become much more competitive than many areas of the world that we are competing with today.

Mexico’s position is that the solution to the complex economic situation experienced by the world today is not a return to protectionist practices that only isolate countries, reduce competitiveness of economies, and send investment scurrying, but that part of the problem and part of the investment that we need to see in the world economy is to see a delving deeper into our economies and making the most of our advantages that show our economic complementarity in terms of investment, labor, technologies, natural resources.  And only then will we be able to have success in a world that competes ferociously by regions.

The three countries have renewed our commitment to broaden the productive — the supply chains of the region that will be even more interconnected, supporting especially the small and medium-scale companies.

Mexican exports to the world represent 37 percent of — or have, rather, 37 percent of American content.  In other words, so American exports are American exports, and they generate millions of jobs for the region.  And in that lays the need to work even more in this region on a clear trilateral deregulation, for instance, in nanomaterials and emissions standards for some vehicles.

Today we also agreed to work in a coordinated fashion on actions that we will be adopting to modernize infrastructure and for border management.  After 10 years — the last two years, we’ve seen three new border crossing areas between Mexico and the United States, after 10 years not having seen one new route.  And we continue to work in a coordinated fashion to make our border more dynamic so that it’s a border of opportunities for progress on both sides of that border.

Tomorrow, here in Washington, our ministers of economy and of trade will be meeting within the framework of the Free Trade Commission of the NAFTA so as to continue to work towards achieving these objectives.

Today, we’ve seen that prosperity in the region depends on greater integration with full respect of our sovereignties in all fields.  And in this context, I’d like to reiterate the interest of my country to join forces as soon as possible to the TPP, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and its negotiations.  Because we know that Mexicans can contribute to a quick and successful conclusion of this project.  If we join forces in this region where we see the greatest growth in the world, we will be generating benefits for our families, our workers, and also substantially improving the competitiveness of the three countries in this context.

We are convinced that the experience and participation of Mexico will enrich this free trade project of the latest generation that encompasses countries in Asia, Oceania, and America.  Our country has a clear commitment to economic freedom.  We even have the support of the private sector so as to enter into the TPP.  We are a nation that believes in free trade as a true tool to foster growth and development, and we have acted as a result of this.

I would also like to thank the United States and Canada for renewing their support to Mexico and its presidency of G20.  As you know, in June of this year Mexico will host the summit of the leaders of the G20 in Los Cabos.  We are convinced, over and above the topics that we will be dealing with there, that the complex international environment needs to be an opportunity so that the world can redefine its development models with a firm commitment to the well-being of peoples and the care for the environment.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this summit, the representatives of the United States, Canada and Mexico have undertaken an open, constructive dialogue, just as corresponds to countries that share values.  We’ve talked about the enormous challenges facing us so as to work together in a globalized world.  And as a result, we will be working on building a new era that consolidates the right conditions for development in North America on the basis of a successful partnership, as we have seen so far today.

My dear President Obama, thank you for your hospitality.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Mr. Harper.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Well, first of all, I’d like to begin by thanking you, Barack, for so graciously and so warmly  — literally — hosting us here today.  And I’d also like to begin by offering my sincere condolences to you, Felipe, and through you, to the people of Mexico on the passing of former President Miguel de la Madrid, who I gather had much to do with the NAFTA partnership that we enjoy today.

Canada places the highest the value on the friendship and partnership among our three countries.  We form one of the world’s largest free trade zones, which has been of great benefit to all of our nations.  We’re also effective collaborators in the G20, in responding to the challenges of the global recession and instability of these past few years.

As affirmed in our budget last week, our government is focused on creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

I’m especially pleased that the United States has welcomed Canada’s and Mexico’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We also had useful discussions on continued cooperation in managing our borders, streamlining regulation, securing global supply chains, and advancing clean energy.

In addition, we’ve announced a broadened plan for North American pandemic preparedness, and a new North America-Central America dialogue on security to fight transnational organized crime.

Finally, we discussed the agenda for the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Colombia.  Canada looks forward to continue to working with the United States and Mexico to promote democratic principles, regional stability, and market-based economic growth with our partners in the Western Hemisphere.

And once again, Barack and Felipe, I look forward to continuing our useful discussions in Cartagena.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Outstanding.

All right, I think that we’re going to take a question from each press delegation.  So I’ll start with Julianna.

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  After last week’s arguments at the Supreme Court, many experts believe that there could be a majority, a five-member majority, to strike down the individual mandate.  And if that were to happen, if it were to be ruled unconstitutional, how would you still guarantee health care to the uninsured and those Americans who’ve become insured as a result of the law?

And then a President for President Calderón and Prime Minister Harper.  Over the weekend, Governor Mitt Romney said that the U.S. used to promote free enterprise around the world, and he said, “Our President doesn’t have the same feelings about American exceptionalism that we do, and I think over the last three or four years, some people around the world have begun to question that.”  My question to the both of you is whether you think that American influence has declined over the last three to four years.

And, President Obama, if you’d like to respond to that, too.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, on the second part of your question, it’s still primary season for the Republican Party.  They’re going to make a decision about who their candidate will be.

It’s worth noting that I first arrived on the national stage with a speech at the Democratic Convention that was entirely about American exceptionalism, and that my entire career has been a testimony to American exceptionalism.  But I will cut folks some slack for now because they’re still trying to get their nomination.

With respect to health care, I’m actually — continue to be confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.  And the reason is because, in accordance with precedent out there, it’s constitutional.  That’s not just my opinion, by the way; that’s the opinion of legal experts across the ideological spectrum, including two very conservative appellate court justices that said this wasn’t even a close case.

I think it’s important — because I watched some of the commentary last week — to remind people that this is not an abstract argument.  People’s lives are affected by the lack of availability of health care, the inaffordability of health care, their inability to get health care because of preexisting conditions.

The law that’s already in place has already given 2.5 million young people health care that wouldn’t otherwise have it.  There are tens of thousands of adults with preexisting conditions who have health care right now because of this law.  Parents don’t have to worry about their children not being able to get health care because they can’t be prevented from getting health care as a consequence of a preexisting condition.  That’s part of this law.

Millions of seniors are paying less for prescription drugs because of this law.  Americans all across the country have greater rights and protections with respect to their insurance companies and are getting preventive care because of this law.

So that’s just the part that’s already been implemented.  That doesn’t even speak to the 30 million people who stand to gain coverage once it’s fully implemented in 2014.

And I think it’s important, and I think the American people understand, and the I think the justices should understand, that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.  So there’s not only a economic element to this, and a legal element to this, but there’s a human element to this.  And I hope that’s not forgotten in this political debate.

Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.  And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.  Well, this is a good example.  And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.

Q    You say it’s not an abstract conversation.  Do you have contingency plans?

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  I’m sorry.  As I said, we are confident that this will be over — that this will be upheld.  I’m confident that this will be upheld because it should be upheld.  And, again, that’s not just my opinion; that’s the opinion of a whole lot of constitutional law professors and academics and judges and lawyers who have examined this law, even if they’re not particularly sympathetic to this particular piece of legislation or my presidency.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  (As interpreted.)  Your question was a little local for me, and so I’m glad that the President of the United States answered it.  But I would take advantage of this moment to say that after increasing the budget line for the folk insurance six-fold, and after having built more than 1,000 new clinics in the country, we’re getting close to reaching universal coverage of health care — full, free health care coverage for all people up to 18 years of age, including cancer coverage.  Of the 112 million Mexicans, 106 million will have efficient, effective universal health care coverage.

So I would say that I would hope that one of the greatest economies in the world, such as the United States, could follow our example in achieving this, because it was a great thing.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Well, I don’t think you really expect me to intervene in the U.S. presidential election.  Let me just say this.  For Canada — and this is something that I think transcends governments in Canada or administrations here in the United States — for Canada, the United States is and always will be our closest neighbor, our greatest ally and our best friend.  And I believe that American leadership is at all times great and indispensable for the world.

And I think over the past few years we’ve done great things together in terms of the response both through the G20 and bilaterally on the recession and the recovery.  We had, under your leadership, Barack, that successful intervention in Libya.  Our trade relationship is the biggest in the world and growing.  And so I think it’s been a tremendous partnership.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Somebody from the Mexican press corps.

Q    Good afternoon.  For President Calderón, you were saying — you were referring to weapons.  We’d like to know what President Obama said in terms of what’s going to be done to stop the traffic of weapons.

And, President Obama, I’d like to know what plans your government has in the presidential election process in Mexico.  What was discussed in terms of the interviews with the candidates in Mexico City?  And I’d also like to know, for the government of the United States, there’s a threat for the country in this sense on weapons, Mr. President.  Weapons have come into the country.  Are there military leaks of letting the arms come through?  What’s going to be done?

And for Prime Minister Harper, is the visa requirement going to be removed for Mexicans?  Thank you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  That’s a lot of questions.  (Laughter.)  Go ahead, go first.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  (As interpreted.)  My position on this subject is very clear, and I would repeat it here.  Let me broach it from another angle.  It’s been shown that when there is an excessive, quick availability of weapons in any given society, there is an increase in violence and the murders that goes on many years afterwards.

This phenomenon took place in many places of Africa after their civil wars.  We’ve see in El Salvador, Guatemala, in Eastern Europe, in Kosovo, in Bosnia.  It’s happened — it’s taken place in many different areas of the world.  And we sustain that the expiry of the assault weapons ban in the year 2004 coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the harshest period of violence we’ve ever seen.

During my government, we have seized over 140,000 weapons in four years.  And I think that the vast majority have been assault weapons — AK-47s, et cetera.  And many, the vast majority of these weapons were sold in gun shops in the United States.  Along the border of the U.S. and Mexico, there are approximately 8,000 weapons shops.  If we do our accounts, that means that there are approximately nine weapons stores for each Walmart that exists in the United States and Mexico.

So a good deal of our discussion did touch upon this.  But I recognize, at the same time, the administrative effort that’s been undertaken, particularly by President Obama and his administration, so that the agencies for control of illegal actions curb this export of guns and weapons to Mexico.  We’ve seen a much more active effort in this sense than in any other time in the past.

I have a great deal of respect for the U.S. legislation, especially the Second Amendment.  But I know that if we don’t stop the traffic of weapons into Mexico, also if we don’t have mechanisms to forbid the sale of weapons, such as we had in the ‘90s, or for registry of guns, at least for assault weapons, then we are never going to be able to stop the violence in Mexico or stop a future turning of those guns upon the U.S.

So if I am against the traffic of weapons in Mexico, I’m against the traffic of weapons anywhere, be that within any circumstance.  The government of Mexico will never be able to accept anything that has to do with opening this.

President Obama has been very clear on the position of his government.  We understand the work being done by the agencies to stop the criminals.  But this cannot be an obstacle to the cooperation that we have to have amongst Mexico and the United States to stop these criminal activities that underlie this issue, which is one of the greatest obstacles and problems for Mexico.

I understand the internal problems from a political point of view in the United States, and I mentioned this publicly in Congress in the United States, and I said things exactly the way I believe them.  I said them outright.  There’s a great deal of discrepancy between points of view.  It’s a very complex political issue.  But it is very important to underscore it.

And I believe that’s the only part of the question that I can answer, and I would say that what President Obama has already answered was very well done.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Just very briefly, with respect to the presidential elections in Mexico, Vice President Biden met with the candidates to express sentiments that are similar to the ones that Stephen just expressed here with respect to U.S. elections.  And that is that the friendship between our three countries, the partnership between our three countries, extends beyond and is more fundamental than any particular party or any particular election.  And that’s the message we have to send with respect to Mexico.

I’ve had a excellent working relationship with Felipe.  I expect to have an excellent working relationship with the next Mexican President, whoever that candidate may be, because the underlying common interests that we have economically, socially, culturally, the people-to-people relationship that we have, is so important that it transcends partisan politics.

And with respect to the issue of guns, I’ve made very clear in every meeting that I’ve had with Felipe — and we’ve actually put into practice efforts to stop illegal gun trafficking North to South.  It is a difficult task, but it’s one that we have taken very seriously and taken some unprecedented steps.  We will continue to coordinate closely with the Mexican government because we recognize the toll that it’s taken with respect to families and innocent individuals inside of Mexico.

And this is part of our broader comprehensive cooperation in weakening the grip of narco-trafficking within Mexico.  And we recognize that we have a responsibility to reduce demand for drugs, that we have a responsibility to make sure that not only guns, but also bulk cash isn’t flowing into Mexico.  And I — obviously President Calderón takes very seriously his responsibilities to apply effective law enforcement within Mexico.  And I think he’s taken courageous steps to do that.

So we’re going to keep on partnering together in order to continue to make progress on this very important issue.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  You asked me about the visa requirement.  The visa requirement is the really only effective means we have in Canada today to deal with large-scale bogus refugee claims under our refugee determination system.

Legislation that is being implemented — and in fact, there’s legislation before parliament to enhance those changes  — that legislation will in the future, in years to come, will give us tools other than visa requirement to deal with that particular problem.  But as of today that remains the only tool at our disposal.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Okay.  And finally from —

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Yes.  Mark Kennedy, Postmedia News.

Q    Hello, gentlemen.  I have a couple of questions on two critical issues that you were discussing today — one on trade and one on crime.  On trade, Prime Minister Harper, why is Canada’s position at the negotiating table on the Trans-Pacific Partnership so important to Canada?  And secondly, to get us there, to be a player, are you willing to give up as a precondition our supply management system?

And, President Obama, you said earlier that there needs to be high standards for a country to be there.  I’m wondering whether you think, yet, Canada has met those high standards — whether you want us to drop our traditional supply management system.

And on crime, we in Canada read about the challenges that Mexico has on the drug cartels and the horrible violence that occurs down there.  But perhaps it’s possible that many Canadians, and perhaps even Americans, don’t see it as affecting their lives — perhaps it doesn’t affect their communities.  So on that issue, why do you three gentlemen think that a three-country coordinated approach is necessary to protect our citizens?

And, Prime Minister, I think you being the only person that can speak both English and French, if you can do that, please.

PRIME MINISTER HARPER:  Sure.  First of all, in response to the question on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this is — our desire to be part of that negotiation is part of Canada’s ambitious trade agenda.  As you know, we are currently in negotiations with over 50 countries around the world, including the European Union and Japan and India.  So this was obviously a logical extension of our desire, the desire of our government to dramatically broaden our free trade relationships around the world.

Canada’s position on Trans-Pacific Partnership is the same as our position in any trade negotiation.  We expect to negotiate and debate all manner of issues, and we seek ambitious outcomes to free trade agreements.  In those negotiations, of course, Canada will attempt to promote and to defend Canada’s interest not just across the economy but in individual sectors as well.

On the question of security, look, the security problems are — the security challenge, particularly around the drug trade, is a serious regional problem throughout our hemisphere that has real impacts — not the kind of governance and security impacts we see maybe in Central America and the Caribbean and elsewhere — but has real, serious impacts on the health and safety of communities in our country as well.  And as these criminal networks are transnational, it’s important that our attempts to fight them be equally transnational.  And that’s why we work together on these initiatives.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, with respect to the TPP, as is true of any process of arriving at a trade agreement, every country that’s participating is going to have to make some modifications.  That’s inherent in the process, because each of our countries have their idiosyncrasies; certain industries that have in the past been protected; certain practices that may be unique to that country but end up creating disadvantages for businesses from other countries.  And so it’s a process of everybody making adjustments.

I don’t think Canada would be unique in that.  Are there areas where we’d like to see some changes in terms of Canadian practices?  Of course.  I assure you that Canada will have some complaints directed at us, and every member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership eventually would have to make some modifications in order to accommodate the larger interest of growing the overall economy and expanding trade and ultimately jobs.  So I don’t anticipate that there’s something unique about Canada that wouldn’t be true for any of the other aspirants to forming this Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With respect to the transnational drug trade, first and foremost, I think we should be concerned about what’s happening in Mexico and Central America because when you have innocent families and women and children who are being gunned down on the streets, that should be everybody’s problem, not just our problem — not just their problem.

There’s a sense of neighborly regard and concern that has to be part of our calculus and our foreign policy.  But more practically, the United States shares a border with Mexico.  If you have this kind of violence and the power of the drug trade as a whole expanding in countries that are so closely affiliated with us — in Central American countries — if you start getting a larger and larger space in which they have control over serious chunks of the economy, if they’re undermining institutions in these countries, that will impact our capacity to do business in these countries.  It could have a spillover effect in terms of our nationals who are living in those countries, tourists that are visiting these countries.  It could have a deteriorating effect overall on the nature of our relationship.  And that’s something that we have to pay attention to.

And, as I said, I think the Mexican government has taken this very seriously at great cost to itself.  We have an obligation to take it just as seriously, in part because we are the ultimate destination for a large chunk of this market.

And that — Stephen and I were trading notes — in places like the United States and Canada, this is not just an issue of — that traditionally was very urban.  This is disseminated across our communities.  And you go into rural communities and you’ve got methamphetamine sales that are devastating young and old alike, and some of that is originally sourced in Mexico.  And so even in the remotest, most isolated parts of Canada or the United States, they’re being impacted by this drug trade, and we’ve got to work cooperatively in order to deal with it.

PRESIDENT CALDERÓN:  (As interpreted.)  And I’d like to look at it from another standpoint.  The security of North America is absolutely tied to each of its member states.  There cannot be full security in this country or in Canada or in Mexico if we do not have a system that actually enables the cooperation mechanisms to act in facing threats that have no borders, that are transnational by their very nature.  And these are threats that are not just tied into drug trafficking, which is transnational of course.

And I’ll give you two examples of success stories that I was mentioning this morning.  One, the attempt to take to Mexico one of the children of Qaddafi — one of Qaddafi’s children.  This implied an international and very North American operation because it was headed up by a Canadian businesswoman who hired an American company, which hired, in turn, Mexican pilots and counterfeiters.  And this multinational operation could have been — would not have been avoided without the international security mechanisms that we didn’t have before, but that now we have.

Also, being able to avoid the assassination of the Saudi ambassador here in Washington would not have been possible without the mechanisms and cooperation that we have today.

So thinking that what happens in Mexico doesn’t have anything to do with the security of the citizens of this country or of any other citizen of North America is a mistake.  We have to understand that we are all tied to one another.

Now, security, understood in the regional sense — in order to understand that, we have to understand where the greatest threats to security actually lay.  The United States has a clear idea of its threat, of its security priorities, its threats of terrorism, of international terrorism, terrible attacks on the U.S. people.  Another threat clearly is in the power of transnational organized crime, which I insist is not crime or organizations that are strictly Mexican in nature.  They don’t have a nationality, and they don’t operate in just one country.  They’re probably operating right here in this city.

In Washington, for instance, the number of homicides per 100,000 inhabitants is higher by 10 — more than 10 or 20 than the largest number in any of the big cities in Mexico.  These are international organizations that have a growing destructive capacity, that act well beyond borders and threaten anyone, anywhere.

It is true, the efforts that we undertake clearly make it possible to contain that threat and to prevent it from acting in society — not just in the United States or Canada, but even in Mexico.  And that explains why, for instance, despite the perception of my country, last year 23 million tourists came to our country by plane, plus another 7 million in cruise ships, plus another 50 million who crossed the border, the land borders.

So that’s also why there are 2 million Mexicans living comfortably in Mexico, and many more living also here who came to visit us here and wanted to see us in the White House.  And that’s also why 1.6 million Canadians come to Mexico every year.  So that’s 5 percent of the Canadian population that travels to Mexico every year.

And that also explains why, despite the fact that a state such as Texas recommends that none of its young people should travel to anywhere in Mexico, that’s why there are hundreds of thousands of young Texans who go to Mexico, enjoy it, and why we haven’t seen one single incident with U.S. spring-breakers in Mexico this past spring, for instance.

Great concern, because these are multinational criminal organizations and the mechanisms, of course, to face them, to defeat them, have to be multinational.  In addition to the solidarity — expressions of solidarity of President Obama, who says that he cannot stand aside from the expressions of threat that is facing a neighbor of his, vulnerability from an institutional point of view in Mexico and Central America is an issue that also impacts and jeopardizes all of the citizens of North America.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, everyone.

END
2:44 P.M. EDT

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