MEXICO CITY — Mexico's is ending the widespread access it gave to U.S. security agencies in the name of fighting drug trafficking and organized crime, but President Barack Obama said Tuesday he won't judge the change until he meets this week with the country's new leader.
Under President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office on Dec. 1, Mexico is ending direct sharing among law enforcement of resources and intelligence as the new government seeks to change its focus from violence to its emerging economy. It's a dramatic shift from the policy under former President Felipe Calderon, who was lauded by the U.S. repeatedly for increasing cooperation between the two countries as he led an aggressive attack on Mexico's drug cartels.
"In my first conversation with the president he indicated to me that he very much continues to be concerned about how we can work together to deal with transnational drug cartels," said Obama, who is scheduled to arrive in Mexico on Thursday.
"I'm not going to yet judge how this will alter the relationship between the United States and Mexico until I've heard directly from them what exactly they are trying to accomplish," Obama told a news conference in Washington.
The Mexican government said Monday all contact for U.S. law enforcement will now go through a "single door," the federal Interior Ministry, the agency that controls security and domestic policy.
Many U.S. officials have speculated for months about likely changes in the security relationship under Pena Nieto, whose Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has always favored central political and bureaucratic control.
Before, FBI, CIA, DEA and border patrol agents had direct access to units of Mexico's Federal Police, army and navy and worked side by side with those units against drug cartels, including the U.S.-backed strategy of killing or arresting top kingpins.