06/27/2016 12:04 EDT | Updated 06/28/2017 01:12 EDT

Mexican president stops by Quebec City to talk trade before dinner with Trudeau

QUEBEC — Mexico has embarked on an "ambitious program" of human rights reforms and the country's allies must continue to show their support, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Monday after a meeting between himself and the Mexican President.

President Enrique Pena Nieto made a stop in Quebec City to talk trade and the North American economy ahead of his planned official dinner Monday evening with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Toronto.

Couillard said he also "raised the issue" of human rights during his meeting with Nieto.

"(Pena Nieto) has assured me that he's taking the right and appropriate action at the structural level to deal with the issue," Couillard told reporters.

Amnesty International says 27,000 people have gone missing in Mexico over the past decade during the violent drug wars that have engulfed parts of the country.

Couillard said what Mexico needs is for countries such as Canada to increase "exchanges" with the country.

"The best way to go forward is not to restrict but to augment trade," Couillard said. "Not to diminish but to increase our exchanges at the cultural, economic and academic standpoint. (Pena Nieto) is embarking on a very ambitious program of reforms and he needs the support of his allies to go forward and succeed."

Pena Nieto defended his country's plan to tackle corruption and human rights abuses.

"Our government has made an important effort to advance issues related to human rights," he said in Spanish. "We still have work to do. However, I think we are moving in the right direction towards having human rights being fully respected (in Mexico)."

Neither leader provided details on Mexico's plan to protect human rights.

Quebec and Mexico in 2015 created a joint commission to push for more co-operation between the two jurisdictions on matters related to green energy, information technology, climate change and academia.

Couillard says corruption and human rights were not chosen as a major theme by the commission.

Pena Nieto is scheduled to attend an official dinner with Trudeau on Monday evening in Toronto.