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President Obama and President Peña Nieto of Mexico Meet at the White House

Summary: 
President Obama welcomes Mexican President Peña Nieto and his delegation to the White House.

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This afternoon, President Obama welcomed Mexican President Peña Nieto and his delegation to the White House. Today's meeting marked Peña Nieto's first White House visit as the President of Mexico.

"It's appropriate that our first meeting of the year is with one of our closest allies, neighbors, and friends," President Obama said.

The two Presidents discussed a range of topics, including immigration, economic growth, security, and Cuba. Both voiced their desire for 2015 to be a great year for the U.S.-Mexico relationship -- "a relationship which is mainly based on friendship, cordiality, mutual respect, shared interests for prosperity and development for our nations," President Peña Nieto said.

Keep reading for excerpts from the Presidents' remarks after today's meeting.


On immigration:

President Obama:

"I described to President Peña Nieto our efforts to fix our broken immigration system here in the United States and to strengthen our borders as well. I very much appreciate Mexico’s efforts in addressing the unaccompanied children who we saw spiking during the summer. In part because of strong efforts by Mexico, including at its southern border, we’ve seen those numbers reduced back to much more manageable levels. But one of the things that we both agreed on is our continued need to work with Central American governments so that we can address some of the social and economic challenges there that led to that spike in unaccompanied children.

"And at the same time, we very much appreciate Mexico’s commitment to work with us to send a very clear message around the executive actions that I’m taking -- that we are going to provide a mechanism so that families are not separated who have been here for a long time. But we’re also going to be much more aggressive at the border in ensuring that people come through the system legally. And the Mexican government has been very helpful in how we can process and message that effectively both inside of the United States and in Mexico."

President Peña Nieto:

"The executive action for immigration ... is of course an act of justice for people who arrive from other parts of the world but are now part of the U.S. community. And among the population that will surely be benefited through your executive action, sir, there’s a very big majority of Mexican citizens.

"And I have shared two fundamental topics on this item. The first is the support the Mexican government is ready to give to the Mexican population living in the United States so that they can show the documentation that is necessary to prove that they have been in the United States before 2010, and also of course to have all the other requirements that are demanded for the Mexican population to be benefited through the execution. [And] yesterday we announced that the migrants in the United States are going to be able to get their birth certificates without having to go to Mexico."


On economic growth:

President Obama:

"I’ve congratulated President Peña Nieto on some of his structural reforms that I think will unleash even further the enormous potential of the Mexican economy. And we also have discussed how we can continue to work on issues like clean energy; scientific and educational exchanges; improving cross-border commerce; and continuing to strengthen the kinds of mutual investment and trade that creates jobs both in Mexico and the United States."

President Peña Nieto:

"We want to continue promoting investments, as it’s already happening in our country -- first of all, because we believe that these investments can be so helpful, and we want to continue having American investors in Mexico because this is an example of the way we recognize that Mexico is a trustworthy destination, a place where they can invest. And this is something we are going to continue to be doing."

President Obama meets with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico

President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico in the Oval Office, Jan. 6, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


On security:

President Obama:

"Obviously we’ve been following here in the United States some of the tragic events surrounding the students whose lives were lost. And President Peña Nieto was able to describe to me the reform programs that he’s initiated around these issues. Our commitment is to be a friend and supporter of Mexico in its efforts to eliminate the scourge of violence and the drug cartels that are responsible for so much tragedy inside of Mexico. And we want to be a good partner in that process, recognizing that ultimately it will be up to Mexico and its law enforcement to carry out the decisions that need to be made."

President Peña Nieto:

"I thank you, President Obama, for your willingness to continue working with Mexico in terms of security, especially this clear challenge Mexico has to continue fighting organized crime. And here we've been discussing topics that have to do with security, of course, and the collaboration, the exchange of information and the logistics support that we’re already getting. And I want to thank you, President Obama, for offering to continue these very efficient actions, first, to fight insecurity and especially organized crime."


On Cuba:

President Obama:

"I described my initiative to end the 50-year policy with relation to Cuba, to move towards what we hope will be a more constructive policy but one that continues to emphasize human rights and democracy and political freedom. And at the Summit of the Americas, one of the things I informed Peña Nieto is we will participate but we’ll insist that those topics are on the agenda."

President Peña Nieto:

"We have offered our desire, our hope to collaborate in this effort so that as soon as possible you can continue with this reestablishment of relations with Cuba and that you can accomplish all the purposes you have set up to accomplish. And Mexico will be a tireless supporter of the good relationship between two neighbors. This is the neighbor in the Caribbean, the neighbor north of Mexico, Cuba and the United States."

Read President Obama's and President Peña Nieto's full remarks here.


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