WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama promised here Monday at a meeting with Mexico's Felipe Calderon that his administration will mark a new chapter in relations between the United States and Latin America.
The meeting held 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 Calderon in one of the Institute's rooms, smiled when he promised that, despite what he called the "tensions" over the last 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 cited the cooperation with Mexico in the energy and environmental sectors.
In his nearly two-hour conversation with the Mexican leader, which began with a lunch of tortilla soup, filet of sole and cilantro salsa, the two men 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 Calderon said that Monday's meeting represents "the beginning of an extraordinary epoch of cooperation" between the two countries.
Calderon 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," Calderon said.Click here to watch the press conference given by Mexico President Calderon and President-Elect Obama in English and Spanish.