Mexico and the United States have pledged to work together to find new ways to combat organized crime, arms trafficking and the flow of drugs across the border although a U.S. official conceded that his country’s “insatiable appetite” for illegal drugs was fueling violence on both sides of the border.
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly held high-level talks on the issues with members of the Mexican government including Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, during a three-day trip to Mexico.
At a press conference held yesterday by the two cabinet secretaries, Kelly reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the partnership between the two nations.
“I cannot stress enough how valuable the US..-Mexico relationship is to each of our nations.”
He also promised to continue to work to counter the demand for drugs in the United States, which he conceded was central to the problem.
“I acknowledged to my counterpart that America’s insatiable appetite for drugs is the cause of much of the turmoil on their side of the border. I pledge to continue to work with my government and anyone else to help in this fight to address drug demand reduction in the United States.”
The former military commander said that drug overdoses were responsible for 60,000 deaths in the United States last year and a collaborative approach would be needed to solve the shared problem.
“As a practical matter, that means looking towards new agreements where we can share information, training, infrastructure and planning resources. We will accomplish this with mutual trust and support.”
Kelly stated that the aim was “to defeat the scourge of illegal drugs with special emphasis on the heroin, cocaine and fentanyl that is flooding the hemisphere and resulting in deaths in both our countries.”
The strategy has the backing of President Donald Trump, Kelly said, as “the president has been very clear about his desire to work with Mexico on many of our shared issues.”
Osorio Chong also reaffirmed Mexico’s commitment to cooperate and overcome differences between the two countries.
He echoed his counterpart by stating that governments of both countries are seeking “new ways to collaborate on issues such as combating arms trafficking.”
“We must see beyond the differences and work together to create lasting conditions of peace and prosperity for the region,” Osorio Chong added.
Kelly and Osorio Chong have met four times since Trump was sworn in in January.
During this week’s visit, Kelly traveled to Guerrero where he witnessed first-hand an operation aimed at eradicating opium poppy plantations.
Kelly also met with President Enrique Peña Nieto, Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray and Finance Secretary José Antonio Meade and he announced that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions would meet soon with his Mexican counterpart, Raúl Cervantes.
“These connections are an expression of the president’s intent to create stronger, durable bonds between our countries,” he asserted.
Presidents Peña Nieto and Trump met yesterday on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Trump told reporters that he “absolutely” expected Mexico to pay for his proposed border wall, despite a previous agreement that the two leaders would not publicly discuss the issue.