Canada, Mexico to work on easing visa restrictions

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper (R) speaks during a news conference with Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto on Parliament Hill in Ottawa November 28, 2012.



OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday that he and his soon-to-be Mexican counterpart are working to make it easier for Mexicans to travel to Canada.

Harper and Mexican president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto met on Parliament Hill Wednesday. The two men talked about improving trade ties and about North American security.

But they also spoke about ways to get Canada to drop a visa requirement for Mexican visitors to Canada.

Canada imposed the visa requirement after getting a flood of fake refugee claimants from Mexico.

"We would ultimately like to see visa-free travel," Harper said at a joint news conference the two men gave.

Mexico is the top warm-weather vacation destination for Canadians and Canadians travelling for tourist reasons do not need a visa.

Pena Nieto, who will officially take office on Dec. 1, also said he hopes to open up his energy sector to more foreign investment.

Right now, energy development in Mexico is largely restricted to the state-owned oil company, Pemex. Many Canadian and international companies have been keen to put money into Mexico's energy sector.

Pena Nieto said Pemex will remain the central player but he hopes to find a way for foreign companies to work with Pemex or invest in Pemex.

"It will be essential to develop greater infrastructure and have access to greater investments for development and exploration of this important resource," Pena Nieto said in Spanish. "We can't postpone the benefits that Mexicans deserve to get through energy development."

Mexico is Canada's fifth-largest export destination. After the U.S. and China, Mexico is Canada's third-largest source of imports.

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