The sight of youngsters speaking Chinese in the Mexican heartland is unusual, to say the least. Parents told that pupils as young as 9 would be taught Mandarin had been skeptical. Wouldn't French or Italian (Romance languages closer to Spanish) make more sense? some wondered. Savvy Mexican politicians have other ideas.

Prime Minister Harper has said Canada will wait to see what policies the U.S. adopts to regulate major emitters of greenhouse gases, because the two countries’ economies are so closely integrated. But Felipe Calderon, who leads the United States’ other border nation and trade-bloc partner, expressed exasperation at waiting for rich countries to step forward.

In a joint statement released last week, President Barack Obama and President Felipe Calderón announced a new exchange program for high school students designed to promote mutual understanding between the two countries.

Anglo and Hispanic cultures have profoundly influenced each other far beyond their 2,000-mile-long border. On both sides, a great cultural fusion has been taking place. From conjunto music to business deals, tourism to sports enthusiasms, the fusion is mostly happy and productive. Sometimes it is not.

The next-door neighbors said in a joint, non-legally binding declaration they desire to create a border that "promotes their economic competitiveness and enhances their security through the secure, efficient, rapid and lawful movement of goods and people."

When Mexican President Felipe Calderón pays his respects at Arlington National Cemetery this week, it will be more than a rote diplomatic gesture. He will be signaling the closure of a wound that dates from a 1914 U.S. military occupation -- and the vast improvement in U.S.-Mexico relations in recent years.

Instead of narrowing everything down to drugs, security and how the United States can best back Mexico's war, the two countries should "de-narcoticize" their relationship and make their goal Mexico's development and transformation into a middle-class society.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon will protest to U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington next week about Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants, Calderon told Reuters Thursday.