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Why Obama won't talk so much about drug war on Mexico trip (+video)

Presidents Obama and Enrique Peña Nieto have reasons to change the US-Mexico narrative in meetings Thursday, but 'both countries are still very interested' in the drug war.

President Obama is heading to Mexico for a three day trip focused on security, promoting trade, and strengthening relations with new president, Enrique Nieto. CBS News' Bill Plante reports.
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President Obama travels to Mexico Thursday with a bilateral agenda that no longer screams “drug war” as its No. 1 item.

But if narcotrafficking and security issues seem to have given way to trade, Western Hemisphere energy development, and regional prosperity on the list of items Mr. Obama and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, will discuss Thursday, that doesn’t mean the drug war is a thing of the past, experts say.

It just means the two countries agree it’s time to talk about drugs and drug trade-related violence less.

Instead, experts add, the lower profile the two leaders give to drug trafficking and Mexico’s related violence reflects Mr. Peña Nieto’s effort to downplay his nation’s battle with drug cartels in favor of his reform agenda – and Obama’s own desires to change the narrative of the bilateral relationship.

“Peña Nieto has been putting the emphasis on economic issues and his reforms, and not so much on narcotrafficking, levels of violence, and the security agenda,” says Jorge Chabat, an expert in US-Mexico security issues at CIDE, a social sciences research and teaching institution in Mexico City.

“The US is still very interested in Mexican stability, but basically Obama has decided that not talking about the violence and talking more about economic progress will help legitimize Peña Nieto, and will help Mexican stability,” Mr. Chabat says. “Both countries are still very interested in what continues to be a very big problem,” he adds, “they’ve just agreed to talk about it less.”


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