"Three amigos" talk trade, H1N1 in Mexico

Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:07pm EDT
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By Steve Holland and Patricia Zengerle

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Reuters) - Leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada vowed on Monday to fight the spread of the H1N1 swine flu and combat climate change but differed on trade disputes at their "three amigos" summit.

U.S. President Barack Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper met against a backdrop of an economic downturn in each country with a U.S. rebound key to a regional improvement.

Obama and Harper said their governments would share information as each faces the possibility of a predicted upsurge in the H1N1 virus this autumn.

"H1N1, as we know, will be back this winter," Calderon said at a joint news conference. "We are getting prepared, all three countries, to face in a responsible manner this contingency and abate its impacts for our people."

All three leaders vowed to respect the North American Free Trade Agreement that unites their countries in trade, but differed on some issues.

Harper raised with Obama Canada's concerns about the "Buy American" provisions in the $787 billion U.S. economic stimulus plan that the Canadians fear could shut out Canadian companies.

Canada is the United States' largest trading partner.

Obama said it was important to keep in perspective the fact that no sweeping protectionist measures have been imposed and that the "Buy American" provisions were limited to the stimulus and have "in no way endangered the billions of dollars in trade between our two countries."   Continued...

<p>President Barack Obama, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon (C) and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (L) pose for the leader's official photo at the Cabanas Cultural Center in Guadalajara, Mexico, while attending the North American Leader's Summit, August 10, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing</p>