MEXICO CITY, April 16 (UPI) -- Cooperation is essential to fight the violent drug battle along the border, U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon said Thursday.
"You cannot fight this war with just one hand," Obama said during a joint news conference with Calderon in Mexico. "If we partner effectively, I'm confident we're going to make progress" to reduce drugs flowing north and cash and arms for cartels flowing south.
If the two countries are able to stop the flow of drugs, illicit money and guns they will improve safety and security along the border, Calderon said.
"We are cleaning our house," he added, explaining he has undertaken wholesale changes in national and local security forces, which also will help control drug-related criminal activity.
Obama said the United States is "absolutely committed" to working with Mexico, including cracking down on drug use and stemming the southbound flow of guns and cash.
In addition the two leaders also discussed a ban on assault weapons.
"I continue to believe that we can respect the Second Amendment right in the Constitution," Obama said, "while dealing with assault weapons that we now know ... are helping to fuel violence" in Mexico and the United States.
While recognizing that re-instating a ban wouldn't be easy, Obama said, "we can improve enforcement of existing law" under which trafficking is illegal.
Calderon said 90 percent of the assault weapons recovered could be tracked to the United States.
"We know it is a politically delicate issue," Calderon said.
Obama outlined steps his administration has taken, including beefing up resources and designating three Mexican cartels under the drug kingpin act so assets can be seized. In addition, he said he would urge Congress to approve legislation that would curb small-arms trafficking.