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Obama Can't Avoid Keystone XL Pipeline in Trade Talks

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Barack Obama met with Mexico's president and Canada's prime minister on Monday to flesh out a plan to eliminate unnecessary regulations in the three nations' trade relations, but a more pressing near-term concern was expected to be on the agenda of Canada's prime minister Stephen Harper for the closed-door talks, the Keystone XL Pipeline.

U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada in 2011 totaled some $1.06 trillion dollars, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Web site, as the United States imports more from its border neighbors than it exports to them.

President Obama meets with North American trade partners, with the Keystone XL Pipeline on the agenda of the U.S.'s northern neighbor.

"Our three nations are going to sit down together, go through the books and simplify and eliminate more regulations that will make our joint economies stronger," Obama told reporters Monday.

Obama, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Harper discussed in closed-door meetings topics including energy, climate change, immigration and the war on drugs, The Associated Press reported.

The Keystone XL oil pipeline likely sat at the center of the private talks between Obama and Harper as the president's administration has delayed approval, but said it would expedite the review process for the southern part of TransCanada's (TRP - Get Report) pipeline, running from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico. The Keystone XL Pipeline would transport Canada's oil sands production through the U.S.

Harper has previously noted his disappointment with Obama's decision, according to the AP.

Canada has the world's third-largest oil reserves in the world behind Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

TransCanada has said it expects to put the pipeline in service by 2015, despite Obama's delay. The company began operations for the southern extension running from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast in February 2011, and said it expects to resume work there in June.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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