Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday gave the U.S. delegation, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a set of proposals on how both countries could work together to address problematic issues ranging from trade to migration.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Lopez Obrador’s aides didn’t disclose the details of his proposals, saying they wanted to wait for President Donald Trump to see them first. However, Lopez Obrador has repeatedly pointed out that he would like to see a development plan, led by the United States, which would address the roots of poverty, violence and migration.
The meetings were “frank, respectful and cordial” and gave cause for “reasonable optimism,” said Marcelo Ebrard, who has been named to be México’s next foreign minister. The U.S. delegation, comprised of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and White House adviser Jared Kushner, first met with outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto before heading to Lopez Obrador’s offices.
As the U.S. convoy arrived at his offices in the capital’s Roma neighborhood, small groups of protesters demanded a change in Trump’s immigration policy. “Children are not criminals! Children are not criminals!” they shouted.
Earlier that day, Peña Nieto also called on U.S. officials to take swift action to reunite migrant families separated at the border in recent months, and condemned the “climate of hatred and racism” in the U.S., as he called it.
According to Andrew Selee, president of the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, the visit by such a high-level U.S. delegation soon after the election underscores Mexico’s importance for the U.S. He pointed out that this may be so because Washington now realizes López Obrador may not be as willing as Peña Nieto to cooperate so closely with the U.S. on bilateral issues.
Trade is also a major issue in the bilateral relationship between the two countries trying to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement. Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, who serves as Mexico’s chief trade negotiator, spoke this week with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and said a meeting could be held in Washington in the last week of July.