President Barack Obama has hailed an “ambitious reform agenda” set forth by the incoming president of Mexico as he and president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto met at the White House.
Obama said it was fitting that the men were meeting on Tuesday even before Pena Nieto takes office on Saturday, calling it a sign of the close relationship between the two countries.
“What happens in Mexico has an impact on our society,” Obama said before the Oval Office meeting, which also included Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Obama said he had forged a close working relationship with outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon and was confident he could establish a similar “close personal and professional relationship” with Pena Nieto, leader of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party.
Obama said he was confident Mexico and the United States will be able to strengthen long-standing economic and trade ties, as well as increase security along their common border.
He also said he would press ahead with comprehensive immigration reform and looked forward to co-operation from Pena Nieto in long-standing US efforts to stem illegal immigration from Mexico.
Pena Nieto congratulated Obama on winning a second term and said he was looking forward to strengthening already close relations between the countries.
He backed Obama’s call for bringing more than 10 million illegal immigrants, many from Mexico, towards legal status and citizenship.
“We fully support your proposal, sir,” Pena Nieto said.
“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.”
He also said he would work with US officials to create “a safe, modern, connected … legal border” between the two countries.
About two-thirds of the more than 50 million Hispanics in the US self-identify as being of Mexican descent, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.