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Obama Heads Back to Mexico to Meet his NAFTA Counterparts

Administration sees Asia pact as chance to plug NAFTA holes
In this December 2013 photo, vehicles line to cross The Paso del Norte Bridge between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez towards El Paso. Twenty years ago, the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, dramatically changing Mexico in fundamental ways. President Obama's upcoming trip to Mexico will discuss NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership. Ivan Pierre Aguirre / AP

President Barack Obama is headed to Toluca, Mexico - hometown of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, next week for a North American summit.

A big topic of the meeting will be the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that the Obama administration is negotiating and wants to see get approval from Congress, but that has strong opposition from labor groups and progressives.

Although it is an agreement aimed at improving trade with Asian countries, senior White House officials said in a briefing with reporters that the Trans Pacific Partnership, known as TPP, gives Mexico, Canada and the U.S the chance to address issues within the now 20-year-old NAFTA, largely on labor and the environment. "TPP is intended to plug those holes," said one of the officials whom spoke only to reporters only if they would not be named.

Critics of NAFTA have opposed the TPP negotiations, and Obama's attempts to fast track it through Congress as have Democratic leaders. But administration officials said it's not in the U.S's interest to put the trade pact on the back burner.

Immigration reform, border security, a trusted traveler program, drug trafficking, energy, cooperation in combatting natural disasters and climate change and working together to strengthen the economies of Central America also are part of the discussion.

Sen. Bob Menendez, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, will be in Mexico on Tuesday on a rescheduled trip not associated with the president's. He'll also travel to Colombia.