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Obama and Mexican President Calderon show solidarity

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President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon before private talks at the White House

President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon before private talks at the White House

President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon before private talks at the White House

In a strong display of solidarity, President Barack Obama welcomed Mexican President Felipe Calderon to the White House and pledged co-operation on immigration, a violent drug war and economic struggles on both sides of the border.

"I say to you and to the Mexican people: Let us stand together," Obama said during a South Lawn ceremony heralding the start of Calderon's state visit.

Sprinkling in a bit of Spanish, Obama went to great lengths to greet Calderon, who is fighting an escalating, bloody battle against drug cartels in his country and facing pressure to get results on immigration reform.

Around the White House grounds, Mexican and US flags waved together, while cheering school children and military in their finest dress uniforms gathered to embrace the pageantry.

Calderon, like Obama, spoke of the stern challenges uniting the countries. He spoke mostly in Spanish but switched to English towards the end of his speech to borrow a campaign line from Obama, asking rhetorically if the nations could overcome their challenges and answering: "Yes we can."

The two leaders then began private talks, part of a day that was to include a joint news conference and an elaborate state dinner.

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