Barack Obama photo

Remarks Following a Meeting With President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico in Ottawa, Canada

June 29, 2016

President Obama. Well, I just want to thank President Peña Nieto and the members of his delegation for an excellent discussion preceding our trilateral meeting.

Terrorist Attack in Istanbul, Turkey

Before I discuss the importance of the U.S.-Mexican relationship, let me just publicly extend my deepest condolences to the people of Turkey for the terrible attack that took place in Istanbul. I had a chance to speak to President Erdogan earlier today to discuss with him not only how heartbroken we have been by the images of the injured and those killed, but also to reaffirm our strong commitment to partner with Turkey, with NATO, with the broad-based alliance that we have structured around the world to fight ISIL.

It's an indication of how little these vicious organizations have to offer; that beyond killing innocents, they are continually losing ground, unable to govern those areas that they have taken over; that they're going to be defeated in Syria, they're going to be defeated in Iraq, they are going to be on the run wherever they hide. And we will not rest until we have dismantled these networks of hate that have an impact on the entire civilized world.

And I know that that view is shared by Mexico. It's shared by Canada. It's shared by all the people of this hemisphere. And it's shared in every region of the world. So we stand with the people of Turkey, and we intend to do what's necessary to make sure that these kinds of terrible events are not happening.

Mexico-U.S. Relations

Now, on a happier note, the cooperation that's been taking place between the United States and Mexico across a whole range of issues has been outstanding. We had the opportunity to discuss the continuing strength of our business, commercial, trade, and people-to-people ties.

The United States is not just a friend and neighbor of Mexico's, but the very character of the United States is shaped by Mexican Americans who have shaped our culture, our politics, our business. And at a time in which we all too often are hearing rhetoric that ignores the enormous contributions that have been made by Mexican Americans and the enormous strengths that we draw from the relationship with our good neighbor to the south, it was—it's been useful for us to reaffirm all the different issues that we've been working on together.

We are strongly committed to making sure that we have high labor and environmental standards embedded in our trade between our two countries. And that's reflected in our commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We discussed the excellent cooperation that we've received from the Mexican Government on border issues that can facilitate the kinds of trade and commerce and tourism and travel that takes place between our two countries, but also ensures that we're able to enforce our immigration laws in a way that is orderly and sound.

We talked about the joint work that we're doing together around energy and the remarkable leadership that Mexico has shown with respect to climate change. And not only has Mexico been a leader in helping to shape the Paris Agreement that was forged last year, but they are now also a leader in helping to make sure that it is implemented.

And I also want to thank Mexico for their leadership when it comes to refugee issues. And they will be one of the cohosts of a refugee summit that we are planning for September on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly.

We also discussed our joint cooperation when it comes to battling drug trafficking. And although this is something that both our governments have been fighting for a long time, there's even greater urgency in light of the increase in heroin trade. That is something that we're addressing in the United States, in the comprehensive program to combat opioids and heroin that I announced and the $1 billion that we are slating to improve treatment and prevention, as well as law enforcement and interdiction. And we are appreciative that Mexico is taking this issue seriously and going to be working alongside us developing their own strategy, but also one that is in coordination with ours.

And in the meantime, we are developing a whole host of other measures that focus on the positive elements of the relationship between our peoples, whether it's educational, scientific, cultural.

So, as always, President Peña Nieto has been an outstanding partner. I've invited him to visit Washington one last time before I leave office. He's accepted. And so we look forward to seeing him and his delegation there. And I want to once again thank them for not only being good neighbors, but also being good friends.

Thank you so much.

President Peña Nieto. First and foremost, I would like to say that Mexico stands in solidarity with Turkey and regrets the events that took place in Turkey, events that took the lives of dozens of people. And we would like to express our solidarity with the families. We would like to condemn violence. There is no cause—there is no fight—that could call itself valid if it uses violence as a means. We condemn this terror attacks that took place in Turkey.

In terms of the bilateral meeting that we just had, first and foremost, I expressed to President Obama how grateful we are, and we want to acknowledge the political will shown by his administration to work jointly with the Government of Mexico to address topics that are common to our countries, not only in the commercial and trade arena, but also in the area of security, in the area of cooperation. And I want to underscore the importance of regional integration.

We must acknowledge that isolationism cannot bring prosperity to a society. It is from a collective effort between the countries that are located in one same region. The relationship between the United States and Mexico is historic due to our geographical vicinity. Without a doubt, the Government of President Obama and the Government of Mexico, we have stressed and emphasized the importance and relevance that working as a team has and to stand together vis-à-vis different areas that could provide a solution on the issues that we face in the region.

I expressed my recognition that we do not only have diplomatic exchanges—that is, not—we do not only have high-level agreements, we have here different officials and their counterparts from both of our countries, from the U.S. and Mexico. We have agreed to go through security cooperation issues. The security of both of our nations needs to be based on cooperation activities between the two governments by sharing information, by having day-to-day exchanges to ensure security on the U.S. side and the Mexican side. Therefore, we have made a commitment to keep on working on the basis of dialogue. President Obama has said it already: We have to work together, and we have to reinforce the efforts done so far to fight organized crime and specifically drug trafficking: specifically, those who produce and traffic heroin. We have identified that production is on the rise, and this narcotic is taken to the United States in great numbers. We have decided to work on this issue.

We have decided to support each other in order to, in the case of Mexico, have the approval at Congress of the TPP agreements. The world is teaching us lessons. Being a strategic partners as countries strengthens development for our nations. And one of the biggest challenges that we're facing—and of course, it was part of our conversation—is that we need to be very clear in terms of describing the benefits of being an integrated region. Jobs are created. Companies are incorporated. Trade is free. And more development can reach people due to regional integration.

Isolationism is not a route towards progress. Integration is. The world is teaching us different lessons when you decide for being in isolation and what happens to those countries that decide not to be in an integrated region.

We have decided to work on the development of clean energies. Both of our countries are committed to work towards the advancement of the environment; to bolster the legal framework, in the case of Mexico, that we have managed to enact to reduce greenhouse effect gases and make—expedite progress in the generation of clean energy.

Without a doubt, the agenda between our countries is extensive. I would like to thank President Obama for his invitation to visit very soon the United States. And we are going to keep on working on specific areas of our relationship. And this is going to reaffirm that we are neighbors, we are friends. But this friendship is based on strong cooperation and teamwork for the benefit of development and security of our nations. This is what we have discussed. These are the commitments that we have made. And we are determined to keep on working on this pathway.

Thank you very much, President Obama, for your friendship and for working as a team.

President Obama. Thank you, everybody.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:44 a.m. in Room 104 of the Canadian Galleries at the National Gallery of Canada. In his remarks, he referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist organization. President Peña Nieto spoke in Spanish, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Barack Obama, Remarks Following a Meeting With President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico in Ottawa, Canada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under





Simple Search of Our Archives