• The Financial District


Mexico’s president on Thursday said an upcoming meeting with his US counterpart Donald Trump was a matter of economic necessity even as diplomats questioned the wisdom of making his first foreign visit to a man widely reviled by Mexicans, Dave Graham reported for Reuters on Friday, June 26, 2020.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will visit Trump in Washington to usher in a new trade deal four years after his predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto was pilloried for hosting the American during the 2016 US presidential election race. Mexico sends 80% of its exports to the US marketplace and receives billions of dollars in remittances from some 35 million people of Mexican origin in the United States. Trump has used both as leverage to pressure Mexico to curb illegal immigration.

Lopez Obrador, who has suggested the meeting could take place in early July, has striven to stay on good terms. “It’s a relationship of friendship, and it’s an indispensable economic and commercial relationship,” Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference. “That’s what my journey to the United States is about.” Lopez Obrador, who has yet to travel outside Mexico since taking office 19 months ago, proposed the idea of a June or July meeting with Trump two months ago but later suggested it would be difficult in person. That changed this week when Trump announced he was expecting to meet the Mexican president soon.

The thought of Lopez Obrador sharing a stage with Trump, who tarred Mexican migrants as rapists and drug runners in his 2015-16 election campaign and vowed to make Mexico pay for his planned border wall, has caused unease among Mexican diplomats and much of the population. Agustin Gutierrez, the husband of Lopez Obrador’s ambassador to Washington, Martha Barcena, and himself a former Mexican ambassador, said in an opinion piece on Thursday the visit risked repeating the “disaster” of Pena Nieto’s 2016 encounter.

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