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August 8, 09

NEWS / North American Leaders Meet August 9 to 10 in Mexico


By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington — The North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico that begins August 9 will focus on three major areas: continuing economic recovery and competitiveness, safety and security, and clean energy and climate change, National Security Advisor James Jones says.

President Obama meets with Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Guadalajara, Mexico, August 9–10. Jones said at a White House briefing August 6 that the United States regards this summit as an important element of its continuing engagement with hemispheric leaders, and that it builds on previous trips the president has taken to Canada, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago for the Fifth Summit of the Americas.

“Our engagement with the Western Hemisphere is critical to advancing our national interests and key for our security and economic well-being,” Jones said. Jones recently returned from Brazil; he said frequent engagement is essential to an improved hemispheric environment. He added that it is likely there will be more of these types of dialogues, from which agreements will be reached.

The summit will begin after Obama meets separately with Calderón on a broad range of issues, Jones said. The summit will follow and run through August 10.

Jones said that one key aspect of citizen safety and security is a coordinated response to the 2009 H1N1 flu strain and the North American flu season, which presents significant public health challenges for the United States and its neighbors. The response calls for a high degree of collaboration between public health departments. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius met with her counterparts from Canada and Mexico in Cancún, Mexico, several weeks ago, Jones added.

The leaders will examine the threat posed by the H1N1 flu from a medical standpoint, and the strategies to deal with that threat that will include vaccine development, anti-viral medicine distribution, and community measures to minimize the threat, said John Brennan, the deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism.

In addition, Jones said the three leaders will discuss the threat posed by transnational criminal cartels and how to mount effective, coordinated responses. “The battle against drugs is one that continues, and it continues with our partners in Mexico; it continues elsewhere in our hemisphere,” he said.

“I think the Calderón government has, in fact, performed very courageously in the face of these cartels, and we think that we have to do everything we can to be a helpful neighbor and a partner,” Jones said. It is not a short-term proposition, he added.

The president’s deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, Michael Froman, said the three leaders will discuss the global economic crisis and what approach they will take when the Group of 20 (G20) industrialized and developing nations meet in Pittsburgh in late September. The leaders will discuss what needs to be done to ensure a shared recovery and the reform of international financial institutions. Also prominent in the talks will be efforts to enhance economic competitiveness and taking advantage of the proximity of the countries to each other and their resources, Froman said.

Talks on climate change will focus on the agenda for the U.N.-sponsored international negotiations that will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, later in 2009, Froman said. “We expect them to discuss their respective low-carbon growth plans, areas for technology cooperation, and to share ideas about how to finance and support the mitigation of emissions, including through carbon markets and proposals for developing and developed countries to work together,” he said.

The U.S. Congress has raised safety concerns about the U.S.-Mexican trucking program, but Froman said that the president wants to work with Congress and address those safety concerns in a way that is consistent with U.S. international obligations.

The meeting with Calderón is the president’s third. They met previously when Obama was president-elect and once after he became president. “This underscores the importance the president places on our relationship with Mexico,” Jones said.

http://www.america.gov/st/peacesec-english/2009/August/20090807122517dmslahrellek0.8232843.html?CP.rss=true

 




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