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Obama to visit Mexico, Costa Rica in May

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

In May President Barack Obama will visit Mexico, where he will meet the country's new president, and Costa Rica, in the second foreign trip of his second term, the White House said Wednesday.

The backdrop to Obama's May 2-4 travel will be his attempt to push through Congress comprehensive reforms that would give illegal immigrants, many of whom hail from Mexico, a path to citizenship.

News of Obama's trip broke after he spoke to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on the phone.

"The president welcomes the opportunity to discuss ways to deepen our economic and commercial partnership and further our engagement on the broad array of bilateral, regional, and global issues that connect our two countries," a White House statement said.

The Mexican foreign ministry said the two leaders would "reaffirm the strategic importance of the bilateral relationship" and would also discuss education, immigration, border issues, trade and security.

Pena Nieto held talks with Obama in Washington in November, before the elected Mexican leader was sworn in for a six-year term.

The two nations have massive trade ties within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which includes Canada.

The United States is also backing Mexico's effort to combat drug trafficking through the $1.9 billion Merida Initiative, an assistance program that has included law enforcement training and equipment such as Black Hawk helicopters.

The White House said that Obama also looked forward to meeting Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, who it said had also invited other Central American heads of state, as well as Dominican Republic Danilo Medina to join the talks.

"The trip will be an important chance to discuss our collective efforts to promote economic growth and development in Central America and our ongoing collaboration on citizen security," the statement said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130327/obama-visit-mexico-costa-rica-may