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Merkel and Pena Nieto talk cash, culture and Iguala

Angela Merkel has offered Germany's support to help reform Mexico's security forces. The chancellor and President Enrique Pena Nieto also announced a new joint cultural project between Germany and Mexico.

At a press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday, embattled President Enrique Pena Nieto thanked Germany's government for offering its assistance in reforming Mexico's police.

Pena Nieto pointed out that his country, like Germany, operates as a federal system, but that

Mexico

has a total of 1,800 local authorities with various jurisdictions operating side by side, which he called an inefficient way of policing.

Merkel offered support for training soldiers for Mexico to deploy as UN peacekeepers and said Germany could help the country achieve "more efficient" forces in its fight against organized crime and efforts to preserve human rights in the face of

the global war on drugs.

The chancellor said she and Pena Nieto had discussed "issues of great significance" and that Germany has offered Mexico help investigating

the disappearance of 43 students

in Iguala in 2014.

During his two-day visit, Pena Nieto also met with Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel. In all, 16 agreements - dealing with technology, finance and energy in addition to security and defense - were signed between Germany and Mexico during Pena Nieto's trip. Germany has also pledged to support the country in new negotiations over existing trade agreements between the country and the European Union.

Pena Nieto lent his support to the EU's

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

negotiations with the US, saying it would open the region up for more commerce. Companies in the United States, Canada and Mexico have profited from former US President Bill Clinton's North American Free Trade Agreement, though many economists say workers in the three countries have generally done less well.

Maya: Enrique Pena Nieto

Protesters in Berlin refused to let Pena Nieto off the hook in the case of 43 missing students

The 'Dual Year'

The two leaders also announced the launched of a "Dual Year" of cultural and economic exchanges between Mexico and Germany. Pena Nieto, who has an approval rating below 50 percent back home, said the coming year would represent a chance for Germany and Mexico to "get to know each other better and to come closer together."

Merkel said the Dual Year represented "a building block" in the development of relations with Mexico, which will host about 1,000 events related to Germany over the next year.

On Monday, Pena Nieto and German President Joachim Gauck inaugurated an exhibition on Central America's Maya indigenous group as part of the Dual Year. Pena Nieto was scheduled to appear at a business forum in Hamburg late Tuesday before heading to Denmark, where he will become the first sitting president of Mexico to visit the Scandinavian country.

mkg/bk (EFE, Reuters, dpa)

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