WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to Mexico is meant as a "very clear signal" that Washington intends to strengthen ties with Mexico, U.S. officials said.
Obama is set to leave Thursday for a trip that will take him to Mexico, and then to Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of the Americas. Speaking with reporters in Washington Monday, White House Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs Daniel Restrepo said Obama's first stop will be Mexico City.
"It's designed to send a very clear signal to our friends in Mexico City that we have a series of shared challenges as it relates to the economy, as it relates to security, insecurity, the threat of violence, and the impact of drug trafficking on both our countries," Restrepo said.
Obama met in January in Washington with then-President-elect Felipe Calderon of Mexico.
Summit of the Americas Director Jeffrey Davidow said Obama's trip it "part of the process of the United States re-engaging" with the Western hemisphere.
"This is not a one-off event," he said -- pointing out that Obama has already met not only with Calderon but also with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Vice President Biden has met with the presidents of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, and several presidents of Central American nations. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder have all traveled to Mexico.