MEXICO CITY – Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday that the subject of Donald Trump’s planned border wall did not come up during his recent telephone conversation with the US president.
“President Trump has been very respectful. We have not addressed that matter and how fine it is that the subject has not been raised,” Lopez Obrador told a press conference in Mexico City.
It is more important, he said, to discuss “other (issues) that have to do with the fundamental solution to the problems of migration and security.”
Lopez Obrador and incumbent President Enrique Peña Nieto are scheduled to meet here Friday with a high-level US delegation led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, will also take part in the discussions.
The aim of the encounter is to foster “understanding between the peoples and governments,” Lopez Obrador said, adding that the inclusion of Mnuchin in the US delegation indicates Trump’s sympathy with Mexico’s view that economic development is the answer to migration.
Migration cannot be controlled by “coercive measures,” the president-elect said, vowing to defend the rights of Mexicans in the US after he takes office Dec. 1.
Asked about the ongoing negotiations among Mexico, Canada, and the United States on revising the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Lopez Obrador said he favored maintaining the pact.
Trump, a long-time critic of NAFTA, took office determined to amend the accord to his satisfaction or scrap it entirely.
As the veteran leader of the Mexican left, Lopez Obrador has his own objections to NAFTA, which drove many family farmers in Mexico off the land just as it spurred some US manufacturers to move their operations south of the border.