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Obama hosts Calderon, the pomp and circumstance

May 19, 2010 | 11:51 am

Calderon obama white house

President Barack Obama welcomed Mexican President Felipe Calderon to the White House Wednesday morning, beginning a day-long visit between the presidents and the two countries' first ladies that culminates in a state dinner Wednesday night.

In the morning welcoming ceremony, as expected, both presidents blasted Arizona's tough illegal immigration law. The immigration issue is sure to be on the agenda, as is trade, drug and weapons trafficking and a lingering dispute over Mexican trucks.

According to the official White House schedule for the day, Obama and Calderon were to hold a 25-minute private meeting in the Oval Office at 10:30 a.m. EDT, followed by an expanded bilateral meeting with the U.S. and Mexico delegations until 11:50 a.m. A brief press conference with the two presidents followed.

Obama is scheduled to hold other meetings while Calderon will have lunch with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to schedules released by officials.

At 6 p.m., President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama once again greet Calderon and Mexico's First Lady Margarita Zavala and take them off for an official portrait to be taken on the White House grand staircase. The state dinner follows, in which both presidents will offer a toast. The evening ends with a reception on the White House south lawn.

After the "crashers" scandal during the White House's last state dinner -- hosting India's prime minister -- officials hope for a smoother event Wednesday night. The chef is Chicago's Rick Bayless, and although details of the menu have not been released, the Associated Press reports that Bayless is at least preparing a black mole sauce for the occasion.

Here is President Obama's official remarks from the arrival ceremony, via the White House. An excerpt:

The United States and Mexico are not simply neighbors, bound by geography and history.  We are, by choice, friends and partners. We are bound by our business partners, workers and tourists who fuel our prosperity; by our students and educators who broaden our horizons; and by our men and women in uniform, who serve and sacrifice to keep us safe.

In the United States, we’re also proud of another bond -- the ties of family: Mexican American families have been here for centuries, as well as those who continue to -- our proud tradition as a nation of immigrants, all of whom strengthen our American family and who join us today.

And here is Calderon's statement (also in Spanish at the president's official site), and an excerpt:

Today, Mexicans and Americans share a decisive moment for our respective countries. We face common challenges of great magnitude: organized crime, economic crisis, climate change, migration. These monumental challenges place us at a crossroads: either we return to mutual recrimination, which has been so useless and so damaging in previous times, or we face and overcome these challenges together, and from there, we begin a new chapter of shared prosperity.

This is the choice: look toward the future, and begin a new era in the strategic partnership between the United States and Mexico based upon shared responsibility.

The two presidents also released a joint statement upon the start of the state visit.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: President Felipe Calderon of Mexico and President Photo: President Felipe Calderon of Mexico and President Barack Obama of the United States, at the start of Calderon's state visit to the White House. Credit: White House