After Summit Snub, Biden Meets With Mexican President

WASHINGTON — One month after snubbing President Biden by refusing to attend a summit meant to indicate American management, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico joined Mr. Biden on the White Home on Tuesday to shore up a relationship the US must sluggish 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 the US and Mexico has change into. Mr. López Obrador skipped out on Mr. Biden’s Summit of the Americas final month after criticizing the US for not inviting Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. He has additionally challenged the US on vitality insurance policies, drug enforcement and the prosecution of Julian Assange.

The 2 leaders sought to reaffirm a partnership they each agreed was mandatory to handle world inflation amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, migration and the surge in fentanyl trafficking. However Mr. López Obrador additionally appeared to point there was nonetheless rigidity between the administrations.

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

“Despite our variations and in addition 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 buddies and true allies.”

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

“We had circumstances that had been fairly just like our present circumstances,” he stated. “And from these insurance policies, we needs to be extracting good classes.”

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

The Mexican president additionally famous that Individuals have been crossing the border to purchase gasoline, 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 gasoline 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 throughout 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 accomplice,” Mr. Biden stated on Tuesday in remarks lasting slightly below 10 minutes, noting the necessity to strengthen the economic system and method migration north “as a shared hemispheric problem.”

All through his presidency, Mr. Biden has burdened the necessity to collaborate with Mexico and Central American nations to handle the foundation causes of migration and deter hovering unlawful border crossings — a humanitarian disaster that has challenged his White Home. In recent times, a majority of migrants crossing the border have been Mexicans, a shift from a lot of the Obama and Trump administrations when Central Individuals entered the US in file numbers.

Mexico agreed to buy as much as 20,000 tons of milk powder from the US to help households in rural and concrete communities, in addition to a million tons of U.S. fertilizer, in response to an announcement from the Nationwide Safety Council. Mr. Biden additionally credited Mr. López Obrador “for additionally stepping up” to subject visas for Central American migrants to work in Mexico.

Mr. Biden added that each the US and Mexico would spend money on up to date infrastructure alongside the border. The nations are working to enhance expertise alongside port entries to higher detect narcotics, in addition to surveillance towers and sensors to assist border brokers monitor unlawful crossings, in response to a senior administration official. Whereas the Trump administration invested billions of {dollars} to assemble a whole lot of miles of bodily border wall, Mr. Biden campaigned on investing in expertise to discourage such crossings.

The White Home highlighted on Tuesday that Mexico would make investments $1.5 billion in infrastructure alongside the border, noting former President Donald J. Trump’s unfulfilled promise to make Mexico pay for the wall. However the Biden administration didn’t specify what the tasks Mexico would fund.

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 want each nation within the area to hitch us,” Mr. Biden stated.

Mr. López Obrador cited the growth of momentary work visas for Mexicans and Central Individuals as some of the efficient methods to encourage authorized immigration. In the course of the summit final month, Mexico dedicated to offering momentary work for at the very least 15,000 Guatemalans, whereas the US stated it might 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 almost certainly take time.

“It’s sluggish going as a result of they want employers to wish 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 most likely extra centered on addressing the migration and financial woes affecting each of their nations, fairly 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 Mr. Trump, who threatened to impose tariffs on Mexico earlier than in the end gaining the nation as an important 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 change, Mr. Trump largely kept away from urgent him on home issues.

Mr. Biden has returned to a broader method, one the place the US pursues nationwide pursuits whereas additionally emphasizing the necessity to counter corruption and make sure the safety of human rights. He’s, nevertheless, simply as reliant on Mexico to discourage migration, giving Mr. López Obrador vital leverage. For a lot of this 12 months, the administration continued to lean on restrictive Trump-era insurance policies that depend upon cooperation with Mexico.

The strain between the governments 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 “critical issues with the deteriorating trajectory of Mexico’s vitality insurance policies.”

In current weeks, Mr. López Obrador has continued to lash out on the administration, criticizing the American authorities for bringing espionage expenses towards Mr. Assange. The British authorities approved Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States final month.

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 the US.

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

Mr. Biden responded by noting that his counterpart had “lots 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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