Death of customs agent hangs over US meeting of Felipe Calderon and Barack Obama

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The Independent US

As mexicos' President, Felipe Calderon, prepared for an official visit to Washington yesterday to meet Barack Obama, frustrations came out into the open with some of the rhetoric regressing to the 1980s, when the two governments routinely traded barbs about drugs, money laundering, trade and investment issues.

The visit comes a little more than two weeks after the killing of a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Jaime Zapata, who was shot dead on a highway in northern Mexico on 15 February – with a gun smuggled in from the US.

"As far as reducing the demand for drugs, they haven't done so... As far as reducing the flow of arms, they haven't, it has increased," Mr Calderon said the week before the visit, in an interview with the newspaper El Universal.

Mr Calderon "has not gotten a response beyond rhetoric on the gun issue... and I think he is bothered by the prospect that special-interest groups in the US have more influence than Mexico's entire leadership," said Raymundo Riva Palacio, a veteran columnist in Mexico City.

According to Mexican officials, the Calderon-Obama meeting was planned before the Zapata killing, and will focus on economic issues, anti-crime co-operation and conditions for the estimated 12 million Mexican migrants living in the US.