Icy and that's OK: Leaders from Canada-US-Mexico revive Three Amigos image for cameras


President Barack Obama, left, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pose in Toluca, Mexico, on February 19, 2014.



This isn’t why many framed the North American Leaders Summit as icy.

Listening to the leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada on Wednesday, it seems they’re doing their best to reinvigorate the “Three Amigos” of old.

President Barack Obama hailed President Enrique Pena Nieto’s economic stimulus for Mexico as “outstanding.” The American leader also traded friendly jabs with his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, over their nations’ upcoming ice hockey showdowns at the Winter Olympics.

Did they talk energy, security or immigration? Surely, but they didn't make any announcements of what might have happened.

The North American summit in Toluca, Mexico, that began Tuesday was brief and congenial, but lacked substance.

Undoubtedly that was by design given those thorny issues carry significant weight for each leader at home.

During a joint appearance after the summit ended on Wednesday, Obama acknowledged “parochial interests” in each nation will frame future agreements. He also urged action from the business leaders, who assembled to hear how the political leaders were going to shape the continent going forward.

“We have every incentive to make this work,” Obama said.

“If in fact we’re going to continue to build and strengthen ... then you can’t just leave it to politicians alone. When people understand what this means in terms of job creation a when they hear that from you, it’s that much more persuasive.”

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Pena Nieto called upon the assembled to make “North America a region more competitive and more prosperous as merited by our citizens.”

Harper and Obama did preach patience for security forces in Ukraine, and Canada and Mexico touted a memorandum of understanding between national investment and banking interests.

Obama also signed an executive order streamlining import-export process for American business.

Yet, there was nothing said about Keystone XL, the contentious energy pipeline from northern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico that took another legal hit on Wednesday.

And strengthening or altering the North American Free Trade Agreement, on its 20th birthday no less, was seemingly submarined before the meetings even began.

The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership is where leaders are concentrating their effort, Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade told Reuters.

That left Obama and Harper to talk hockey.

Canada faces the United States in winner-take-all matchups at the Winter Olympics in Sochi this week in both the men’s and women’s events.

“My brother-in-law is Canadian, so you know I have to love Canadians,” Obama said.

Unless the U.S. loses, which might mean he will “not feel as warm toward Canadians until the Olympic matches are over.”

It’s a good thing nobody told them the U.S. and Mexico are going to meet in a friendly soccer match in April.

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