WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Thursday embarks on a trip to Latin America, where the leader of the world's lone superpower said he seeks to engage in talks with the region's leaders as equals.
President Obama declines to criticize any Latin American leaders before heading to the region for a summit.
"Times have changed," Obama told CNN en Español on Wednesday.
Referring to his planned meeting in Trinidad and Tobago with Brazil's president, he said, "My relationship with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is one of two leaders who both have big countries, that we are trying to solve problems and create opportunities for our people, and we should be partners.
"There's no senior partner or junior partner."
Obama and Lula da Silva are among the leaders scheduled to attend the Summit of the Americas this week.
Obama lauded Mexican President Felipe Calderon, with whom he will meet Thursday in Mexico City, as having done "an outstanding and heroic job in dealing with what is a big problem right now along the borders with the drug cartels."