Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ciudad Juarez Killings Focus US-Mexico Meeting on Security

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ciudad Juarez Killings Focus US-Mexico Meeting on Security

Article excerpt

The US delegation for meetings in Mexico Tuesday is dominated by security officials - an indication of how relations between the two countries are changing, especially given the recent Ciudad Juarez killings.

A significant chunk of President Obama's cabinet and top national security advisers - including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano - will be in Mexico Tuesday for discussions focused on Mexico's spiraling drug-related violence.

The delegation also includes America's top military officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. His attendance underscores how dominant national security has become in bilateral relations, some experts say.

"You don't bring out the big guns like Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen for a delegation like this unless the overriding focus is going to be security, the drug violence, and the perception of the impact these have on US national security," says Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas in New York.

IN PICTURES: Mexico's drug war

The high-level bilateral talks are part of the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative, which is aimed at tamping down Mexico's drug war with US assistance. The talks are supposed to follow a broad agenda beyond security issues. But with the recent gang-style killings of two employees at the US consulate in violence-torn Ciudad Juarez, prospects appear slim for moving the discussion much beyond border violence.

Consulate killings in Ciudad Juarez

On Monday, Secretary Clinton held a video conference with employees of the US Embassy in Mexico City and the nine US consulates around Mexico, in part to reassure employees about security measures in light of the Cuidad Juarez killings. An employee at the US consulate and her husband were shot March 13 while driving in the city with their 7-month-old in the back seat. The child survived. …

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