Wednesday, November 29, 2023

US Secretary of State Blinken visits Mexico to discuss cooperation on immigration, economic policy, security

Cooperation between Mexico and the United States on economic issues, security and immigration appear to be the talking points during discussions Monday afternoon between high-ranking Mexican and U.S. officials in Mexico City, headed on the Mexico side by President López Obrador and on the United States’ side by Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

President López Obrador had stressed beforehand that there was no predefined agenda for his meeting with Blinken during the U.S-Mexico High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), which involved Blinken, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and other officials on the U.S. side and President López Obrador, Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier and Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard on the Mexican side. President Lopez Obrador had not issued any statements on the meeting as of 4 p.m.

But topics that did come up, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard’s post on Twitter around 3 p.m., were not surprises.

In a tweet on the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s account celebrating his meeting with Blinken, Ebrard mentioned the three major talking points, adding that in the security discussion, a special emphasis was placed on bilateral cooperation on controlling arms trafficking. Ebrard also said that multilateralism, in the lead-up to the upcoming United Nations General Assembly session in New York City, which opens on Wednesday, was also discussed.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Lopez Obrador of Mexico
No set topics were planned for the meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President López Obrador today, the president said beforehand. File photo

President Lopez Obrador had predicted in the days before the meeting that Mexico’s nationalistic energy policies, which are being challenged under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by both the U.S. and Canada – would be raised and suggested that he might bring up the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. It’s not clear if either of those topics are being discussed between López Obrador and Blinken.

AMLO had said that he would advocate for Assange’s freedom – the 51-year-old Australian faces espionage charges in the United States – if there was an opportunity to do so. The president added that Blinken will likely raise security issues.

“There is a high-level meeting to attend to [USMCA] and bilateral issues between Mexico and the United States,” López Obrador said before the meeting. “… [In my meeting with Blinken] there isn’t a defined agenda, … a special agenda, but we will attend to matters of interest for the two nations and the two peoples,” he said.

Ebrard said last week that he would “probably” speak to the secretary of state about the United States’ travel alerts for Mexico. The U.S. State Department is currently advising U.S. citizens not to travel to six states – Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas – due to crime, and to reconsider travel to seven others.

“We’ve never agreed with the alerts because they’re unilateral,” Ebrard said.

Despite warnings against travel to almost half of Mexico’s 32 states, the U.S. alerts haven’t had a significant impact on tourism, the foreign minister said.

During a tour of Jalisco on the weekend, López Obrador had also predicted that “the migration issue” would also be raised. The United States has long sought Mexico’s assistance to stem the flow of migrants to its southern border, while Mexico is interested in the fair treatment of Mexicans who live in the U.S.

“Our migrant compatriots shouldn’t be mistreated,” López Obrador said.

In a statement published last Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the central goal of the HLED – which was relaunched last year – is to foster economic development and growth, job creation, global competitiveness and the reduction of poverty and inequality. He also noted that the dialogue is built on “four central pillars”: Building Back Together, Promoting Sustainable Economic and Social Development in Southern Mexico and Central America, Securing the Tools for Future Prosperity, and Investing in Our People.

Writing in the Milenio newspaper, Economy Minister Clouthier said that Monday’s talks will provide an opportunity to “take stock of the advances, achievements, challenges and prospects” in the bilateral economic relationship.

“… Mexico and the United States are partners, allies and friends,” she wrote. “… At the Economy Ministry we’re convinced that the HLED is an effective cooperation mechanism.”

With reports from Aristegui Noticias, El Economista, Sin Embargo and Latinus

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