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Obama: U.S.-Mexico stereotypes must be broken

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For his part, Pena Nieto declined to be drawn into the immigration debate in Washington, a top priority for Obama but one that is at a delicate stage in Congress. Asked to comment, the Mexican president merely acknowledged the efforts under way in Congress.

"Mexico understands that this is a domestic affair for the U.S. and we wish you the best push that you’re giving to immigration," he said.

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Likewise, Pena Nieto demurred when asked to react to the failure of the U.S. Senate to pass gun control legislation, including an expanded background check for firearms buyers, even though many guns obtained illegally in the U.S. end up in the hands of drug dealers in Mexico.

He said he agreed with Obama’s campaign to stem gun violence, but added: "This is a domestic issue in the United States."

Obama vowed to keep pressing for gun legislation, saying: "We recognize we’ve got obligations when it comes to guns that are oftentimes being shipped down south and contributing to violence here in Mexico."

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