MONTEBELLO, Quebec (AP) _ President Bush, at a North American summit on Tuesday, offered U.S. assistance and expressed his concern for the citizens of Mexico and elsewhere whose lives were effected by Hurricane Dean.
``We stand ready to help,'' said Bush, standing alongside Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. ``The American people care a lot about the human condition in our neighborhood and when we see human suffering we want to do what we can.''
Security and trade issues dominated talks among the North American leaders who met at a posh chateau along the Ottawa River. The three leaders began talks Tuesday with a council of corporate executives, who are pushing for broader coordination across North America, from regulatory standards to emergency planning.
Overshadowing the two-day event was the menacing Hurricane Dean. The summit schedule was rearranged to accommodate Calderon, who was to head home early to deal with the aftermath of Dean.
Among the issues getting heavy attention here, Bush and his counterparts want to make their borders safer without impeding trade and tourism.
``We agreed that border security measures, critical as they are, cannot threaten the bonds of friendship or commerce between us,'' Harper said.
There are plenty of neighborhood disputes, however, ranging on issues as varied as Arctic waterways and passport policies to the war in Afghanistan. But the summit ended on an even keel with few announcements.
In a joint statement, the leaders agreed to:
_Develop common protocols through the Canada-Mexico-United States Emergency Management Council to manage the movement of goods and people, including emergency responders, across borders during a natural or man-made emergency, such as a terrorist attack or outbreak of avian flu.
_Advance multilateral trade liberalization through a successful conclusion to the World Trade Organization Doha Round of negotiations.
_Strengthen cooperation on identifying and stopping unsafe food and products before they enter the three countries.
_Look for ways to cooperate on national auto fuel efficiency standards and work together on developing clean energy technologies and resolving global warming.
_Streamline regulations and make them compatible to enhance the flow of trade on the continent and eliminate redundant testing and certification requirements.
_Better measure the scope of and improve the detection and deterrence of counterfeiting and piracy in North America. Expand public awareness of the importance of intellectual property rights in protecting North American economies and consumer health.
_Develop a plan to respond to increasing pressures on the U.S., Mexican and Canada competitiveness in the global markets.
The United States is to host the North America summit in 2008.