Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will lead a Cabinet-level delegation to Mexico on Friday on the heels of a sea-change election there that could offer a chance for the neighbors to repair strained relations — or make them worse.
U.S.-Mexico ties have deteriorated significantly under President Donald Trump, who campaigned on building a border wall and who has repeatedly blamed Mexico for economic and social problems in the United States.
Most recently, tit-for-tat trade tariffs between Mexico and the U.S. amid tense negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, have sparked fears of an all-out trade war. Trump has branded the free trade pact, which also includes Canada, as a job killer for Americans.
However, following the landslide victory of leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, tensions have eased. Both leaders made positive statements following a telephone call earlier this month; the wall was not mentioned. Lopez Obrador will replace President Enrique Pena Nieto in December.
Joining Pompeo on Friday will be Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, who has played a key role in maintaining relations with Mexico, in part because of his close ties to the foreign secretary of the current government, Luis Videgaray. Also in the delegation will be Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
The State Department said the visit is intended to demonstrate the strength and importance of U.S.-Mexico relations and the Trump administration’s eagerness to work with the incoming government. The entire delegation will meet separately with Pena Nieto and Lopez Obrador and discuss ways to combat transnational criminal organizations, the opioid epidemic in the U.S., trade tensions and irregular migration.
Sharing a nearly 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) border, Mexico and the United States have traditionally coordinated closely on security and immigration. Mexico is also the United States’ third-largest trading partner for goods, with the U.S. buying about 80 percent of Mexico’s exports from automobiles to fruit, vegetables and beer.
Source : News Agencies