Mexican President urges friendship with US under looming tariff threat

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been sending an optimistic vibe about upcoming talks in Washington to resolve issues related to immigration, just days after a rhetorical brawl with the US president.

Obrador, speaking at his daily press conference Monday morning, said a trade and migration deal was in the interests of both the US and Mexico, adding that he would like to maintain a friendship with US President Donald Trump.

A war of words kicked off last Thursday between the two heads of state when President Trump threatened to impose a five percent tariff on Mexico if it didn’t move to change its border policies, later calling the country an “abuser” of the US. Obrador pushed back in a sharply worded letter, much in contrast to Monday’s more genial remarks.

Mexican officials arrived in Washington for talks on Monday, which aim to broker a deal to resolve the dispute. President Trump preempted the visit with a demand for “action, not talk,” and later suggested that, “as sign of good faith,” Mexico should stop immigrants and illegal drugs from crossing into the United States, stating “They can do it if they want!”

Some officials warned that new tariffs would only worsen problems at the US-Mexico border and deepen the financial instability which drives large scale migration from countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

“Tariffs, along with the decision to cancel aid programs to the northern Central American countries, could have a counterproductive effect and would not reduce migration flows,” Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, Martha Barcena, told the press in Washington on Monday.

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