Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accompanied by senior Trump administration officials, will meet on Friday with Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in hopes of finding common ground on various disputed issues.
President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will also be part of the high-level delegation led by Pompeo, whose aim is to build on the positive atmosphere established during the President’s phone call with Lopez Obrador on July 2.
“The whole goal of Secretary Pompeo’s trip is to advance that positive agenda and to work with the Mexican government across all of the issue areas where we can make progress on,” a State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official added that the delegation will also meet with Mexico’s current president, Enrique Pena Nieto, and Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray to discuss the transition of power, trade, migration and border issues.
The visit comes at a time of strained tensions between the United States and Mexico. Since taking office, Trump has threatened to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, whose renegotiation, Mnuchin said, was one of the priorities for the administration.
The State Department official further noted that Friday’s talks were about “the strength and importance” of the U.S.’ ongoing cooperation with Mexico, but their outcome remains unclear considering both presidents are nationalists. “They both have strong populist instincts, the politics that drive them are different – one from the left, one from the right,” said Carlos Pascual, a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
Lopez Obrador is unlikely to give in to President Trump’s demands regarding NAFTA which have stalled the progress of negotiations between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Trump has also maintained the free trade pact was a job killer for Americans.
The State Department official refused to say how much focus there will be on NAFTA during Friday’s talks.