WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Presidentelect Barack Obama promised this week at a meeting with Mexico’s Felipe Calderón that his administration will mark a new chapter in relations between the United States and Latin America.
The meeting held Jan. 12 at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington was the first between Obama and a foreign leader after winning the Nov. 4 election.
Obama, who spoke standing beside Calderón, smiled when he promised that, despite what he called the “tensions” over the past few years in Washington’s ties with Latin America, his mandate will open “a new page, a new chapter.”
With regard to Mexico, the president-elect said that a “strong” bilateral relationship “can be even stronger.”
Among other things, Obama mentioned cooperation in energy and conservation. In his nearly two-hour conversation with the Mexican leader, the two men shared a Mexican lunch of tortilla soup and talked “generally” about questions such as trade, immigration and the drug-related violence that has claimed nearly 9,000 lives in Mexico over the past two years.
Obama praised the “extraordinary courage” of the Mexican leader in his fight against drug trafficking, while Calderón said that Monday’s meeting represents “the beginning of an extraordinary epoch of cooperation” between the two countries.
Calderón said that he had asked Obama for a strategic alliance between the two governments to confront common problems, mainly security and the fight against organized crime.
“The more secure Mexico is, the more secure the U.S. will be,” Calderón said.