Prime Minister Stephen Harper is slated for talks with his U.S. and Mexican counterparts at a meeting of the “Three Amigos” in Washington today. On the agenda will be issues related to the economic cooperation of the three North American countries, as well as coordination in policing and security.
Harper, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico’s Felipe Calderon haven’t met together since August 2009. David Biette, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., told the National Post that these meetings are important since the economies of the three countries are “inextricably” tied together. “Because we trade so much together and work so much together on continental security, it’s important to get together and touch base and make sure we’re all on the same page and see what the challenges are ahead for us,” he said.
There’s no doubt that Mexico’s violent drug war—which has left nearly 50,000 people dead since 2006—will be a topic of conversation during the three-hour meeting. At issue will be discussions about the best approach to settling this conflict between the Mexican military and the country’s powerful and brazen drug cartels. There has been indications from Latin American leaders that new paths should be taken in the region’s struggle against organized crime, while former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo has joined others in questioning the “war on drugs” mentality in favour of an approach that would legalize some substances.
But it’s unlikely that Harper and Obama will support any such proposals, with an election year in the U.S. and Ottawa having recently passed their omnibus crime bill that increases penalties for drug-related crimes.
The three leaders will see each other again on April 14 and 15 for the annual Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.