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Biden to talk migration, security with Mexico's president

Two countries agree to overhaul their fight against drug trafficking

By AFP - Jul 12,2022 - Last updated at Jul 12,2022

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden hosted his Mexican counterpart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Washington on Tuesday for talks on migration, security issues and economic cooperation.

The visit — Lopez Obrador's second to the White House since Biden took office last year — also offers an opportunity for the two leaders to improve their sometimes fraught relationship.

"Migration cooperation is a top priority for both President Lopez Obrador and President Biden. I think this will be a top subject of conversation tomorrow," a senior US administration official told journalists.

Lopez Obrador has said he expects to discuss security and migration with Biden, including the need to invest in development projects in Central America to deter people from leaving.

"We're also going to deal with the inflation issue," Lopez Obrador told journalists, adding that the two countries could work together to try to curb rising prices with joint measures.

Security would be discussed "within the framework of respect for our sovereignty," he added.

The two countries agreed last year to overhaul their fight against drug trafficking to address root causes, and to step up efforts to curb cross-border arms smuggling.

Human trafficking will also take center stage following the death of more than 50 migrants — many of them Mexicans — who were abandoned in a scorching hot trailer in San Antonio, Texas.

“We saw with the tragedy in San Antonio just the incredible impact of these smuggling networks and the need to, with great urgency, address that,” the US official said.

Migration is a key issue for Biden, with Republicans frequently claiming that he has left the southern US border unprotected against unauthorised crossings.

Mexico’s president also wants to regularise the status of migrants and to facilitate temporary work visas, which he said could help to ease a labour shortage in the United States — something Washington wants to discuss as well.

“We expect the focus to be a lot on how we can expand legal pathways to both countries, with a particular focus on labour pathways from Central America,” the US official said.

The relationship between the two leaders has been tense at times, with Lopez Obrador skipping the Summit of the Americas last month over Biden’s refusal to invite Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Despite the snub, Lopez Obrador said he had “good” relations with Biden and was optimistic that the upcoming two-way talks would yield positive results.

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