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Obama, Mexican President Meet for Immigration, Security Talks

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has held talks with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, in Mr. Obama's first meeting with a foreign leader since his election in November.

President-elect Obama says he and President Calderon discussed immigration, cross-border security and other topics during their lunch Monday at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington.

The president-elect said they discussed how to have a comprehensive immigration strategy that ultimately strengthens both countries. Mr. Calderon said the more secure Mexico is, the more secure the United States will be and that both nations need to work together to fight organized crime.

Mr. Calderon has waged a battle against drug traffickers in Mexico since taking office in 2006. In spite of the effort, drug violence has soared. Mexican officials say some 5,700 people were killed last year in drug-related violence.

Incoming White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president-elect pledged to find ways to work with Mexico to reduce the violence and stop the flow of arms from the United States.

Gibbs said Mr. Obama also expressed a commitment to upgrading the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Mr. Obama has said the U.S. should renegotiate the agreement with Canada and Mexico to include tougher labor and environmental rules.

Since NAFTA took effect in 1994, trade between the U.S. and Mexico has quadrupled to about $350 billion a year.

Mr. Obama said the discussions with Mr. Calderon also covered the global financial crisis and its impact on Mexican and U.S. businesses.

There has been a long-standing tradition of incoming U.S. presidents meeting with Mexico's president prior to being sworn in, and Gibbs says Monday's meeting was in keeping with that tradition.

Obama aides have said the meeting underscored the important relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.

U.S. President George Bush will welcome Mr. Calderon to the White House Tuesday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.