Mexico’s bloody war with drug traffickers was at the top of the agenda as President-elect Barack Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Monday, Reuters reported Jan. 12.

It is traditional for incoming U.S. presidents to meet with their Mexican counterparts prior to taking office, but the Obama-Calderon meeting was slated to be more than a photo-op. Calderon was expected to encourage Obama to support the so-called Merida Initiative, a $1.4-billion U.S. aid package designed to help Mexico and Central American nations fight drug trafficking. Only about $300 million of the pledged aid has been released so far.

An Obama advisor said that the drug war is a “shared challenge” for the U.S. and Mexico, adding, “As worried as we are about the northbound drug trade, we’re also worried about the southbound weapons and cash flows that impact the drug war.”

Obama has pledged to make relations with Mexico and Latin America more of a priority. The sit-down with Calderon will be Obama’s first meeting with a foreign leader since his election in November.

Trade, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, also is expected to be discussed by the two leaders.