Top US officials to visit Mexico today for border talks

John Kelly
John Kelly

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will meet this week in Mexico with President Enrique Pena Nieto, to discuss issues including border security amid frayed relations under new US President Donald Trump.

In brief statement, the State Department said on Tuesday they will discuss “border security, law enforcement cooperation, and trade, among other issues” during talks on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tillerson and Kelly will meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and other top Mexican officials during the two-day visit on Wednesday and Thursday, it said.

The Wednesday-Thursday visit comes amid tensions between the US and Mexico since Trump took office on Jan. 20.

Trump has vowed to build a wall on the US southern border, slap a hefty tax on Mexican-made goods entering the country and pull out of a trade deal with Mexico if he cannot renegotiate it to benefit the US.

Pena Nieto canceled a planned January meeting of the two leaders in Washington after Trump said his counterpart should not attend if he was unwilling to pay for the wall.

Despite the tensions, senior Mexican and American military and interior officials spoke this month in a sign that communication remained open between the two countries.

Besides Pena Nieto, the two American secretaries will meet with Mexico’s ministers of the interior, foreign affairs, finance, defense and the navy, the State Department said.

Mexico, which announced the visit last week, said it was aimed at building “a respectful, close and constructive relationship between the two countries.”

Relations between the neighbors have been rocked by Trump’s vow to build a huge border wall, his disparagement of Mexican immigrants during the US presidential campaign and attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Pena Nieto canceled a White House meeting with Trump last month after the president tweeted it would be better not to have it if Mexico refused to pay for the border wall.

Trump has also vowed to renegotiate or scrap NAFTA, arguing that it was a bad deal that has led to the loss of manufacturing jobs to Mexico.

The trip to Mexico would be Tillerson’s second foreign foray since taking office in early February.

He traveled last week to Europe to meet with foreign ministers at the G20 gathering in Bonn.

John Kelly

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

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