The United States, Canada and Mexico will always have ``parochial interests,'' U.S. President Barack Obama said Wednesday following a bilateral meeting with Stephen Harper in which the Keystone XL pipeline was a key topic of discussion.
But so much trade between the three countries is part of an integrated supply chain that allows them to sell their products and services around the world, Obama added at the so-called Three Amigos Summit in this Mexican city.
``We have every incentive to make this work,'' Obama said, urging the business audience at the summit to help push for progress.
``If in fact we're going to continue to build and strengthen ... then you can't just leave it to politicians alone,'' he said. ``When people understand what this means in terms of job creation a when they hear that from you, it's that much more persuasive.''
The president had affectionate words for Canadians and for Harper, calling him ``Stephen'' at one point during his remarks after the two leaders strolled through the Cosmo Vital Jardin Botanico, an enormous Toluca greenhouse renowned for its spectacular stained glass windows.
``My brother-in-law is Canadian, so you know I have to love Canadians,'' Obama said to laughter .
But he added that the fact that Canadian and American men's and women's hockey teams are going head-to-head in the ongoing Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, could cause him to ``not feel as warm toward Canadians until the Olympic matches are over.''
Harper echoed Obama's light-hearted tone during his own brief remarks.
``Barack, it's always great to see you, and I like my brother-in-law too,'' Harper said.
During their meeting, Harper and Obama discussed and strongly condemned the violence taking place on the streets of Ukraine, agreeing that the Ukrainian government is responsible for protecting its people and upholding the universal right to freedom of expression.
They also agreed that the military should be showing restraint, and should refrain from becoming involved in issues that should be resolved by civilians.
Both resolved to work closely with European allies on options for additional measures.
The leaders also discussed issues of shared concern, including the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations, the global economy, and border infrastructure and security.
The two leaders held their bilateral meeting a few hours after Harper sat down TransCanada officials in nearby Mexico City, and just as a judge struck down a Nebraska law that allowed the pipeline to proceed through the state.
That ruling that will undoubtedly lead to even further delays for the controversial project.
Keystone XL remains a major irritant between the U.S. and Canada given the approval process south of the border has dragged on for several years under Obama.
Neither leader deviated from their stated positions on the pipeline during the Three Amigos summit.