Dialogue But No Resolution at North American Summit

In a three-way summit in Guadalajara on the 9th, US President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper discussed a number of issues concerning relations between their countries.

The leaders talked about climate change and the environment; the global recession and appropriate responses; North American attitudes to the H1N1 pandemic; security and border relations, as well as international business practices.

Calderón and Obama met privately the night before the summit to discuss the issues of drug cartels and trafficking in Mexico, a serious threat to Mexican life – over 13,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence within the last 3 years, Reuters reports.

President Obama was accompanied by advisers from Homeland Security and the National Security Agency as well as energy and climate experts, according to the Washington Post.

Mexican ambassador to the US Arturo Sarukhan commented that President Obama was seeking a “short term” solution to the border problems between Mexico and the US. Mexican trucks are forbidden from crossing the border, for fear of trafficking and the sale of illegal products.

Calderón claims this is a dent in the Mexican economy and is working with the Obama administration to iron it out. Obama stated in a press conference after the summit that there is a “draft legislation” set to come out and the end of this year, and that the House of Representatives would “start acting” on it by 2010.

He also explained how the “unfair” immigration system was “broken” and caused “ongoing tensions inside the US”.

The issues discussed between Mexico and Canada also related to the flow of people and goods from Mexico. Calderón requested a review of Canadian immigration policy – he does not understand the need for Mexicans to obtain visas before entering Canada.

The Guadalajara Reporter, a local newspaper, reported that Prime Minister Harper was indignant that this measure remains. He cited the large number of “bogus refugee claims” that already float about in Canada, which would only increase in number with the lifting of this most basic immigration check.

President Calderón highlighted the need for Mexico to integrate into the global economy better and take stronger internal measures. All three leaders prioritised the need for a united approach and policy towards tackling climate change and that trade protectionism would be rejected, the BBC comments.

Harper also raised an issue of economics with President Obama – under the US’ million dollar ‘Buy American’ scheme, the emphasis on purchasing locally manufactured goods is aversely affecting the Canadian economy. Requests were made to revise this idea and to increase the flow of Canadian goods and services to the US, the BBC further explains.

All told, Calderón, Harper and Obama left with clear and unified ideas of how to combat international problems such as swine flu, climate change and the global recession. How they handle their border disputes and business dealings will need to be reviewed at a later summit.


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