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State and Nation

April 30, 2013

Mexico seeks new security, economic agenda with U.S.

(Continued)

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies deferred comment on Monday to the State Department, which said it looks forward to "continued close cooperation."

Security and the economy remain the top themes between the two countries. But many analysts have speculated for months about likely changes in the security relationship under new President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has always favored central political and bureaucratic control.

Wearied by a six-year offensive against organized crime that took an estimated 70,000 lives and saw the disappearance of thousands more, Mexico has sought to change its message and image since Pena Nieto took office Dec. 1 with an aggressive agenda for reform. That includes focusing on trade and increased economic integration with the U.S. as Mexico experiences a boom in manufacturing and worldwide buzz about its competitive edge over China and Brazil.

"What we are striving for in Mexico is to convert the North American region into the most competitive and the most dynamic region of the world. That means that certainly there will be integration of the economy," Alcocer said.

Pena Nieto's the meeting with Obama "will allow us to revive a relationship that is more balanced and diversified, much broader and deeper," he said.

U.S. officials are echoing the message.

Bilateral trade amounted to nearly $500 billion last year, more than four times what it was only 20 years ago, and Mexico is the most important export market for 22 of 50 U.S. states, both countries' top diplomats said at an April 19 meeting preparing for Obama's trip.

"We don't want to define this relationship with Mexico or with other countries in the context of security or counter-narcotics trafficking," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said then. "We want to define it much larger in the context of our citizens' economic needs and our capacity to do more on the economic frontier."

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