Obama calls Mexico’s president-elect, but White House statement mum on cartels

President Barack Obama telephoned Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto to congratulate him on his victory in last weekend's elections, the White House said in a statement Monday. While the release listed several topics that the two men discussed, it made no explicit mention of the two countries' fitful efforts to combat ultra-violent drug cartels.

Obama "reiterated his commitment to working in partnership with Mexico, and looks forward to advancing common goals, including promoting democracy, economic prosperity, and security in the region and around the globe, in the coming years," according to the White House statement.

Peña Nieto's victory brought the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which governed Mexico for decades, back to power. He has pledged to overhaul his country's energy, labor and tax systems, Reuters reported.

"The two leaders reaffirmed the close bilateral partnership the United States and Mexico enjoy based on mutual respect, shared responsibility, and the deep connections between our people," according to the statement. Obama also "congratulated the Mexican people who have once again demonstrated their commitment to democratic values through a free, fair, and transparent election process."

Peña Nieto won Sunday's election with 38 percent of the vote, according to early returns. That gave him a lead of roughly 7 percentage points over his nearest rival, leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, according to the Associated Press.

Obama has faced sharp Republican criticism over the government's Fast and Furious operation, which aimed to track the flow of firearms from American gun sellers, through straw buyers, into the hands of the cartels. The Republican-led House of Representatives voted last week to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over Justice Department documents tied to the operation.