U.S. President Barack Obama leaves Thursday for Mexico and Costa Rica, on a trip to strengthen trade ties and discuss U.S. immigration reform, security threats and drug wars.
On the three-day trip, Obama will meet with the new Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Central American leaders at a summit in Costa Rica.
Obama said Tuesday his trip to Mexico will focus on economics to see how the two countries can deepen their economic ties.
"A lot of the focus is going to be on economics. We have spent so much time on security issues between the United States and Mexico that sometimes I think we forget this is a massive trading partner, responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border," said Obama. "We want to see how we can deepen that, how we can improve that and maintain that economic dialogue over a long period of time."
Obama said talks will include working together to combat transnational drug cartels.
The U.S. president said the two governments have improved cooperation in recent years, but that collaboration can be better.
"That does not mean that we are not going to be talking about security. I think that in my first conversation with the president, he indicated to me that he very much continues to be concerned about how we can work together to deal with transnational drug cartels," said Obama. "We have made great strides in the coordination and cooperation between our two governments over the last several years. But my suspicion is, is that things can be improved."
Obama said similar issues will come up in his talks with Central American leaders in Costa Rica. He said the United States wants to make sure the region is better integrated to improve the economy and security of all people.