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Obama Gives Mexico Assurances On Drug War

Scott Horsley Discusses President Obama's Mexico Visit

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Jason Beaubien Reports On Mexican Reaction To The Visit

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President Obama shakes hands with Mexican President Felipe Calderon at Los Pinos in Mexico City. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama shakes hands with Mexican President Felipe Calderon at Los Pinos in Mexico City.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama, visiting Mexico on Thursday, vowed to help America's southern neighbor battle drug traffickers in a deadly war fueled in part by the American appetite for drugs.

But he signaled that he will not seek the reinstatement of a U.S. assault weapons ban. Mexican President Felipe Calderon hoped to persuade Obama to follow up on a campaign pledge to push for a revival of the ban.

Instead, Obama used a news conference to highlight an inter-American weapons treaty intended to stem the flow of arms and ammunition to drug cartels.

Obama met in Mexico City with Calderon, who has been conducting an aggressive fight against drug cartels.

"At a time when the Mexican government has so courageously taken on the drug cartels that have plagued both sides of the borders, it is absolutely critical that the United States joins as a full partner in dealing with this issue," Obama said.

Backing Away From A Campaign Pledge

But the assault-weapons ban apparently won't be part of that commitment. Obama seems to have bowed to the reality that such a move would be unpopular in politically key U.S. states and among Republicans, as well as some conservative Democrats.

The two leaders also discussed the economy and energy during Obama's one-day visit. He travels Friday to Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas.

His visit comes at a time when drug-related violence along the border is on the rise.

Differences On Cuba

Allies in the fight against drug cartels, Obama and Calderon took different stands on U.S. sanctions against Cuba. Calderon said the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo has not been successful in forcing Cuba to adopt democratic reforms.

"We do not believe that the embargo or the isolation of Cuba is a good measure for things to change," the Mexican president said.

Obama pointed to the announcement this week that the U.S. was softening sanctions, allowing Americans to make unlimited transfers of money and visits to relatives in Cuba. But he said Cuba needs to reciprocate with actions that are "grounded in respect for human rights."

Shared Responsibility

Obama acknowledged that the United States shares responsibility for bloodshed and kidnappings in Mexico that have spilled across the border into the United States. Acknowledging that U.S. drug use fuels the cartels, Obama said, "I will not pretend this is Mexico's responsibility alone."

"We have a responsibility as well; we have to do our part," Obama said. He said the U.S. must crack down on drug use and the flow of weapons into Mexico.

Obama also said the United States and Mexico must work together to stem the problem of illegal immigration. At the same time, he said: "My country has been greatly enriched by immigrants from Mexico."

The two leaders also pledged to cooperate on combating global warming and the global recession.

From NPR and Associated Press reports.