U.S. News

Mexico backs U.S. border troops plan in principle

A view of the U.S.-Mexico border fence in Nogales, Arizona is pictured in this photo taken April 28, 2010. REUTERS/John Russell

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Mexico does not object to U.S. plans to station troops along the border between the two nations as long as the soldiers do not arrest Mexicans trying to get into the United States, President Felipe Calderon said on Thursday.

U.S. President Barack Obama, reacting to drug violence in northern Mexico, said on Tuesday he would send 1,200 more National Guard troops and ask for an additional $500 million to secure the almost 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border.

Calderon said that until now Washington had not properly addressed the need to stop what he called the trafficking of weapons and money into Mexico.

“They have a commitment to uphold the law on the American side and not to use the National Guard for immigration purposes or to deal with immigration issues,” Calderon told a news conference in Ottawa after talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“If the National Guard helps toward a common purpose of having a safer border and if they can do this without detaining Mexican migrants, I think this (planned deployment) could bring about positive results,” said Calderon, speaking through an interpreter.

The flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico is a very sensitive issue in the United States. Washington says the question can only be solved through comprehensive reform.

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico said on Wednesday that the extra troops would be working in back offices helping intelligence officials process information, or be posted as lookouts between ports of entry.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway