By Catherine E. Shoichet
(CNN) — Mexico’s new leader has a message for U.S. officials as he visits Washington this week: Ties between the neighboring nations must go beyond the drug war.
Just four days before his inauguration, Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto will meet with U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday. And he says he wants to reshuffle the list of priorities the United States and Mexico share.
“It is a mistake to limit our bilateral relationship to drugs and security concerns,” the president-elect wrote in an editorial published by the Washington Post on Friday. “Our mutual interests are too vast and complex to be restricted in this short-sighted way.”
A crackdown on cartels was a hallmark of outgoing President Felipe Calderon’s six-year tenure, and the United States voiced its support, offering $1.6 billion to aid in the fight.
Pena Nieto has said he plans to focus more on reducing violence, but he’s offered few specifics about that approach.
The 46-year-old former governor, who won Mexico’s presidential vote in July, has said a top priority is to deepen economic ties with the United States.
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“Perhaps the most important issue is finding new ways to bolster our economic and trade relationship to attain common prosperity in our nations,” Pena Nieto wrote last week, noting the potential for more trade, manufacturing deals and energy investment.
The United States is Mexico’s largest trading partner. The two countries share billions of dollars in imports and exports and a border that stretches nearly 2,000 miles.
For the first time in more than a decade, economic issues are likely to dominate the agenda shared by Mexico and the United States, the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars said in a policy brief this week.
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