Increase economic integration to be a more competitive region globally, push for a new migration deal and leave behind some disagreements on the political scene in the continent. Those are the three priorities of the administration of Andrés Manuel López Obrador ahead of Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau’s visit to Mexico for the North American Leaders Summit next week. This was announced by Roberto Velasco, head of the North America unit at the State Department, in an interview with EL PAÍS just hours after the leaders of the three countries released their detailed agendas for the diplomatic meeting, known informally as the top of the Three amigos. “It’s the most important foreign policy meeting we have,” Velasco notes, “the most important relationship Mexico has is with its northern partners.”
The North American Leaders Summit will take place next week, January 9-11, and more details are expected to be known this Thursday about the route the three leaders and their respective delegations will take during the work trip in Mexico City. Biden will land in Mexico from Sunday. Velasco points out that the arrival of the Canadian Prime Minister is scheduled for Monday. That same day, Biden and López Obrador hold a bilateral meeting. The meeting between the three heads of government is scheduled for Tuesday.
Secretary of State Marcelo Ebrard said this Thursday that Biden will land at Mexico City International Airport around 1 p.m. next Monday. Trudeau will do it a little later, around 2:30 p.m. The President of the United States will be received at the National Palace at 4 p.m. and will have a private conversation with López Obrador, accompanied by their wives. Cabinet members from both governments will already participate in the bilateral meeting.
On the American side, Antony Blinken, Secretary of State; Alejandro Mayorkas, Minister of Security; Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce; Jake Sullivan, national security adviser; Chris Dodd, President’s Special Adviser on America; Ken Salazar, US Ambassador to Mexico; David Cohen, US Ambassador to Canada, and Juan González, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council. Mexico is represented by Ebrard, the Minister of the Interior, Adán Augusto López; the Minister of Security, Rosa Icela Rodríguez; the Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Rogelio Ramírez de la O; the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, María Luisa Albores; the Minister of Economy, Raquel Buenrostro; the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Esteban Moctezuma; the head of the North America unit of the State Department, Roberto Velasco, and the commissioner of the National Institute of Migration, Francisco Garduño.
Ebrard has indicated that Trudeau will be seated around 6 p.m. on Monday and will have dinner behind closed doors later. The foreign minister had said in December that a private meeting between the three leaders would be held for the time being and a ceremony would be held afterwards with their work teams. Velasco confirms that they will first meet behind closed doors and that later contacts will be made in a more formal way. According to the official, Trudeau and López Obrador will have a bilateral meeting on Wednesday. “There will be several opportunities for the two presidents and the prime minister to talk at length about the issues that interest each of them,” he says.
The summit will follow a format similar to that of November 2021 in Washington. “The world has changed a lot since they last met and they will be able to update the common vision they have of how North America can increase its cooperation to meet the new challenges,” adds Velasco up. The work agenda is characterized by six axes: diversity; justice and inclusion; environment and climate change; competitiveness with the rest of the world; migration and development; Health and Safety. Specific agreements between the three countries are expected to be announced on each of these points, as well as a joint statement at the end of the meeting. From the bilateral meetings, other agreements would be added to these agreements: possibly new ones or the updating of already existing mechanisms such as the Bicentennial Agreement (Security) or the Sonora Plan (Clean Energy).
What does Mexico expect from the summit? Velasco emphasizes that the country sees great opportunities in regional integration on the world economic scene. Between the three countries, he explains, about a trillion dollars are traded each year. The Mexican delegation will promote greater cooperation based on the TMEC and a greater desire for North America to act as a bloc and establish itself as a competitive region. On this front, the Mexican government will propose creating the Alliance for the Prosperity of the Peoples of the Americas, a regional agreement to reduce poverty and inequality.
That is one of the three priorities. The second is about migration. Mexico wants more labor mobility and open channels for regular migration in response to the migratory pressure and high demand for workers that continues in the United States. The promise of an immigration deal has made its way back to the summit negotiating table, from the first in 2005 to the tenth edition that is about to take place.
On the other side of the border, press questions focus on the White House’s response to undocumented flows and the decision to uphold Title 42, an exceptional measure taken during the pandemic that the Supreme Court has overruled. decided to keep Closing the doors of the United States has increased pressure at the border, where tens of thousands of immigrants have been waiting in limbo for months. The US president told the US press on Wednesday that his intention is to make a field visit to the border with Mexico, the first since arriving at the White House in January 2021, after the summit. A Mexican representative is not expected to participate in that tour.
Finally, López Obrador wants a dialogue with his colleagues on regional policy. The Mexican president has spoken in recent days about rethinking the Monroe Doctrine and has urged Washington to reconsider its policy on America, after a past of interventionism. “It’s a conversation that both presidents have already had, to promote greater integration while respecting countries’ sovereignty,” says Velasco. “This means that there are no blockade policies or trade sanctions that harm the societies of the countries that have failed to meet the stated goals,” he adds.
López Obrador was absent from the Summit of the Americas held in Los Angeles last year due to the exclusion of the governments of Venezuela and Cuba. “It was part of what Mexico was broadcasting at the time,” says Velasco. “It is not only talking about the points where there are differences, but also looking for common points and a way to the future for the region,” he explains. That was one of the points made by the Mexican president this week in a letter to Biden, although the contents have not been made public. “It is not for me to give details of any announcement from the president,” the official concludes. Mexico and the United States have also had disagreements over the political crisis in Peru and the abrupt departure of Pedro Castillo, but Velasco clarifies that it is not a topic that has been discussed in recent meetings. “What we’ve talked about is the region in general,” he says.
The conversation with Canada crosses several points of common ground with the United States, although there are two main points of agreement. In addition to close collaboration on labor mobility, the novelty is an approach to addressing issues faced by indigenous and historically marginalized communities. “This is a great meeting between Secretary Trudeau’s concerns and the positions being promoted by President López Obrador. There is a lot of international interest in what has been done with the Yaquis and with other indigenous peoples of Mexico,” said Ebrard. a few weeks ago.
“There is an excellent relationship with both the United States and Canada,” says Velasco. “This summit will reflect the very robust and dynamic cooperation that exists between the three countries and the strong will to further deepen that relationship,” he added. This is the first visit by a US president to Mexico in nearly 10 years. It is also Biden’s first visit to a Latin American country during his tenure.
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