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After Summit Snub, Biden Meets With Mexican President

WASHINGTON — One month after snubbing President Biden by refusing to attend a summit meant to point out American management, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico joined Mr. Biden on the White Home on Tuesday to shore up a relationship america must gradual mass migration and bolster financial ties.

The notability of Mr. López Obrador’s mere presence alongside Mr. Biden underscored how awkward an already advanced relationship between america and Mexico has grow to be. Mr. López Obrador skipped out on Mr. Biden’s Summit of the Americas final month after criticizing america for not inviting Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. He has additionally challenged america on vitality insurance policies, drug enforcement and the prosecution of Julian Assange.

The 2 leaders sought to reaffirm a partnership they each agreed was essential to handle international inflation amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, migration and the surge in fentanyl trafficking. However Mr. López Obrador made clear there was nonetheless stress between the boys.

The Mexican president, who seldom passes up a chance to poke the Biden administration, at one level talked about how People residing alongside the border have crossed into Mexico for fuel at decrease costs amid hovering inflation.

“Regardless of our variations and likewise despite our grievances that aren’t very easy to overlook with time or with good needs,” Mr. López Obrador stated, many occasions “we’ve been in a position to coincide and we’ve been in a position to work collectively nearly as good pals and true allies.”

In a roughly 30-minute response to Mr. Biden’s temporary opening remarks, Mr. López Obrador at occasions gave the impression to be giving a historical past lecture, somewhat than a coverage framework, citing the partnership between the 2 international locations underneath President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal insurance policies.

“We had circumstances that had been fairly much like our current circumstances,” he stated. “And from these insurance policies, we must be extracting good classes.”

Mr. López Obrador additionally touched on certainly one of Mr. Biden’s biggest political vulnerabilities: excessive fuel costs. After telling Mr. Biden he hoped “that Congress approves or passes” proposals to decrease fuel costs, Mr. Biden retorted, “It has gone down for 30 days in a row.”

The Mexican president additionally famous that People have been crossing the border to purchase fuel, saying it’s a greenback cheaper. He didn’t be aware that it prices much less in Mexico as a result of the federal government subsidizes home fuel costs with cash it makes from the crude oil it produces.

Mr. Biden’s aides insist the connection between the 2 leaders is productive. Regardless of not attending Mr. Biden’s summit in June, Mexico did help a declaration accomplished in the course of the gathering that dedicated to cooperating on increasing authorized pathways for international staff, investing in border safety, tackling smuggling networks and addressing record-high unlawful migration.

“We see Mexico as an equal companion,” Mr. Biden stated on Tuesday in remarks lasting slightly below 10 minutes, noting the necessity to strengthen the economic system and strategy migration north “as a shared hemispheric problem.”

All through his presidency, Mr. Biden has careworn the necessity to collaborate with Mexico and Central American nations to discourage hovering unlawful border crossings — a humanitarian disaster that has challenged his White Home. Lately, a majority of migrants crossing the border have been Mexicans, a shift from a lot of the Obama and Trump administrations when Central People entered america in report numbers. Mr. Biden credited Mr. López Obrador “for additionally stepping up” to challenge visas for Central American migrants to work in Mexico.

Mr. Biden added that each america and Mexico would put money into up to date infrastructure alongside the border. The nations are working to enhance know-how alongside port entries to higher detect narcotics, in addition to surveillance towers and sensors to assist border brokers monitor unlawful crossings, in keeping with a senior administration official. Whereas the Trump administration invested billions of {dollars} to assemble tons of of miles of bodily border wall, Mr. Biden campaigned on investing in know-how to discourage such crossings.

Mr. Biden, noting the deaths of 51 migrants who had been discovered trapped in an deserted truck in San Antonio, additionally stated the 2 nations wanted to intercept smugglers encouraging migrants to cross the border. The administration started an anti-smuggling initiative with different nations that has resulted in roughly 3,000 arrests since April, he stated.

“We’d like each nation within the area to hitch us,” Mr. Biden stated.

Mr. López Obrador cited the growth of short-term work visas for Mexicans and Central People as one of the efficient methods to discourage migration. Through the summit final month, Mexico dedicated to offering short-term work for a minimum of 15,000 Guatemalans, whereas america stated it could dedicate $65 million in grants to agricultural employers that rent farmers from Central American nations.

Andrew Selee, the president of the Migration Coverage Institute, a analysis institute in Washington, lauded the trouble however stated implementation would probably take time.

“It’s gradual going as a result of they want employers to need to go recruit in Central America and they should make it as straightforward for them to course of the visas,” he stated.

Mr. Selee stated the 2 leaders had been in all probability extra targeted on addressing the migration and financial woes affecting each of their nations, somewhat than Mr. López Obrador’s absence on the summit.

In some methods, Mr. López Obrador’s relationship with Mr. Biden is extra advanced than the one he had with former President Donald J. Trump, who threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico earlier than finally gaining the nation as a vital ally for his border insurance policies.

Regardless of Mr. López Obrador’s efforts to champion himself as an advocate for migrants, he additionally agreed to adjust to U.S. insurance policies that empowered American border brokers to quickly flip migrants again to Mexico. In trade, Mr. Trump principally kept away from urgent him on home issues.

Mr. Biden has returned to a broader strategy, one the place america pursues nationwide pursuits whereas additionally emphasizing the necessity to counter corruption and make sure the safety of human rights. He’s, nonetheless, simply as reliant on Mexico to discourage migration, giving Mr. López Obrador vital leverage. For a lot of this yr, the administration continued to lean on restrictive Trump-era insurance policies that rely on cooperation with Mexico.

The stress between the leaders has existed since Mr. Biden was elected, when Mr. López Obrador initially refused to acknowledge his victory. The Mexican president has additionally pursued vitality insurance policies that jeopardize American funding within the sector, prompting the Workplace of the U.S. Commerce Consultant to specific in March “severe considerations with the deteriorating trajectory of Mexico’s vitality insurance policies.”

Mr. López Obrador vowed to “begin a marketing campaign to tear down the Statue of Liberty” if Mr. Assange is “sentenced to the utmost penalty” in america.

“There shouldn’t be selfishness between international locations, peoples which can be neighbors and pals,” Mr. López Obrador stated towards the top of his remarks. “President Biden,” he added, “we belief you since you respect our sovereignty.”

Mr. Biden responded by noting that his counterpart had “quite a lot of vital issues to say.”

“The thrust of what you’re saying, we agree with,” he stated. “We have to work nearer collectively.”

Natalie Kitroeff contributed reporting from Mexico Metropolis.



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