Photo: Reuters U.S. President Barack Obama, (c), and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (r), answer questions as Mexico's President Felipe Calderon (l) listens during a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 2, 2012
Photo: Reuters U.S. President Barack Obama, (c), and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (r), answer questions as Mexico's President Felipe Calderon (l) listens during a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, April 2, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama says drug-related violence in Mexico could have what he calls a “deteriorating effect” on U.S.-Mexican relations.

Mr. Obama spoke Monday after a White House summit with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  Mexico’s war against drug gangs fighting for turf near the U.S. border was a major topic at the talks.

Mr. Obama said that when innocent families, including women and children, are gunned down in the streets, it is everybody’s problem.

“Criminal gangs and narco traffickers pose a threat to each of our nations,” said President Obama. “And each of our nations has a responsibility to meet that threat.”

Mr. Obama said the United States has the responsibility to reduce the demand for drugs and to stop guns and cash from flowing across the border into Mexico.

President Calderon said Mexico cannot stop the violence without halting gun trafficking.  He called on the United States to renew an assault weapons ban.  He said the ban’s expiration in 2004 coincided with the rise in drug-related violence in his country.

About 50,000 people have been killed since 2006, when President Calderon sent the army into northern Mexico to tackle the drug gangs.

The three North American leaders also talked about the economy and trade.  They spoke about the need to strip away regulations that they say stifle trade.

Prime Minister Harper said Canada has no immediate plans to scrap visa requirements for Mexican visitors.  He said that is the only tool Canada currently has to effectively deal with what he calls large-scale phony refugee claims.

The White House summit was the last for the three leaders, as Mr. Calderon’s term ends in December and term limits bar him from re-election.  Mr. Obama is up for re-election in November.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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