Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Mexican President Felipe Calderon and US President Barack Obama meet for a North America summit in Guadalajara, Mexico 10 August 2009.

The three leaders are to discuss energy issues amid a backdrop of high gas prices and unemployment

US President Barack Obama is hosting three-way talks at the White House with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.

Talks usually centre on border issues and the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

This year the summit could also touch on a disputed US-Canada oil pipeline.

President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon are meeting weeks before a broader regional summit to be held in Colombia.

The Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, is to be held in two weeks’ time.

No major agreements are expected to be signed at Monday’s summit, which will see the three leaders hold a joint news conference.

The meeting was originally planned to take place in Hawaii in November, but had to be rescheduled after a top Mexican official was killed in a helicopter crash.

Thorny issues

The three leaders are expected to address ways in which to boost the economic recovery, as well as energy – with Mexico a major oil exporter and Canada unhappy over the fate of the stalled Keystone XL pipeline.

The pipeline would transport crude oil from the tar sands of western Alberta to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The White House refused to approve the project, amid concerns that the route passed through the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region of the US state of Nebraska.

Mr Harper has previously said he was disappointed by the White House decision, and indicated that Canada would consider selling oil to China, as an alternative.

Mr Obama has said exports would be a key component of the US recovery. Canada represents the biggest market for US exports, followed by Mexico. The US, though, is the biggest consumer of both Canadian and Mexican goods.

But trade between the US and Mexico has been overshadowed by violence from drug cartels struggling to control smuggling routes into the US market, and Mexico’s complaints of weapons bought in the US moving south.

The leaders also face differing political climates at home. Mexico is holding elections on 1 July, and Mr Calderon is not eligible for re-election; meanwhile, Mr Obama faces re-election in November.

Mr Harper, who has been in office since 2006, won a new term in office in May 2011.