U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador on Monday to repair relations between the two neighboring countries that have frayed over immigration and other issues.
“We discussed shared efforts to address irregular migration in the Americas, including through humane border management policies and through expanding legal pathways,” said Blinken during a press conference.
“We addressed the root causes of migration, something that Mexico and the United States are collaborating on in ways that we've not seen before,” added Blinken, who spoke alongside senior Mexican officials.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Deputy Trade Representative Jayme White accompanied the top U.S. diplomat to Mexico City for high-level economic talks.
Mexico is consistently among the United States’ top three trading partners. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Mexico was the U.S.’s second-largest export market in 2020.
U.S. officials say the influx of illegal immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border have created strains in the United States. In recent months, the state of Texas has sent thousands of migrants by bus to New York and Washington, saying the move was needed to relieve overwhelmed border communities.
The United States and Mexico are also at odds over energy policy. The U.S. has questioned the Mexican government’s support for its own state-controlled energy companies, saying it violates a trade pact and restricts American firms’ ability to compete in Mexico.
On Monday, López Obrador welcomed Washington’s “tone” over the disputes on Mexico’s energy policy during a separate news conference.
“There's a different tone. There's a respectful attitude,” said the Mexican president. “It's a reaffirmation of respect for our national sovereignty,” he added, referring to a letter he said he’d recently received from U.S. President Joe Biden.
Blinken’s meeting with Lopez Obrador in Mexico City came two months after Biden met with his Mexican counterpart at the White House, where Biden said the two neighbors need to rebuild relations.
In June, Lopez Obrador boycotted the Summit of the Americas hosted by the U.S. because the talks excluded leaders from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela. The summit was aimed at promoting democracy and tackling issues including migration.
The State Department said Blinken and Lopez Obrador also discussed strengthening energy security and joint efforts to tackle the climate crisis through investments in electric vehicles, solar technologies, and semiconductors.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Raimondo said the United States and Mexico also identified areas of collaboration on supply chains, adding that she saw great potential for Mexico not just in manufacturing of semiconductors but also their testing, packaging and assembly.
"The best is yet to come," said Raimondo, who declared she was "thrilled" with progress the two sides had made on a range of issues, including bolstering energy security.
Still, while observing the two sides did not discuss the energy controversy "extensively," Raimondo said businesses wanted "predictability, fairness and transparency" in an apparent nod to companies' concerns about Mexico's policies.