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Obama shares blame for drug ravages in meeting with Mexico's president

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President Obama said the United States was partially responsible for the drug wars that have

strained relations with Mexico and ravaged the border during an appearance with Mexican President Felipe Calderon

Thursday.

"We are very mindful that the battle President Calderon is fighting inside

of Mexico is not just his battle, it's also ours," Obama said. "We have to

take responsibility just as he's taken responsibility."

Obama committed to seizing more weapons and increasing border security in an

effort to stanch the flow of cash and guns to Mexico that has aided cartels

in an area with more than 35,000 deaths related to drug violence in the last

four years.

The pledge comes on the heels of the death of U.S. Immigration and Customs

Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata, who was shot with a gun smuggled from the

United States.

The meeting of the presidents came against the backdrop of U.S. cables posted recently on Wikileak that questioned whether the Mexican government could police

cartels that have infiltrated the top ranks of law enforcement. Those leaks have generated resentment among Mexican leaders.

Despite the promise for increased cooperation, those who actually patrol the

border expected runaway corruption to continue in Mexico.

"[Calderon] picked a fight he couldn't win," said T.J. Bonner, president of

the National Border Patrol Council, which represents U.S. agents. "It's

clear the Mexican government can't even protect themselves against the

cartels. It's just completely out of control. We don't believe we can trust

the cops and soldiers down in Mexico."

Without an increased financial investment in the drug wars, Calderon said

the two countries were doomed to experience more violence.

In a show of good faith, senior administration officials said they expect to

expedite around $900 million in funding to Mexico by the end of the year for

anti-drug efforts.

Obama and Calderon also brokered a deal on a plan that would allow both U.S.

and Mexican trucks to cross the border. The United States now blocks the Mexican

vehicles over concerns that they don't meet safety standards.

In the deal is finalized by Congress, Mexico would lift tariffs on dozens of

American products in place since the dispute began. However, Calderon's assessment of the president was far less flattering away

from the glitz of a White House ceremony. "I have found cooperation on this matter with President [George W.] Bush and

with President Obama, but obviously institutional cooperation ends

up being notoriously insufficient," Calderon recently told the Mexican

newspaper El Universal.

"How can Americans cooperate? By reducing drug use, which they haven't done. And, the flow of weapons hasn't slowed, it has

increased," he said.

Tensions between the countries are not likely to be eased by the presidential visit, experts said.

"It's a nice start but they still have a lot of work to do," said Maureen Meyer, a Mexico

expert at the Washington Office on Latin America.

bhughes@washingtonexaminer.com