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Harris meets with Mexican President

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Kamala Harris will meet Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday, after mid-term elections in the country eroded his power base in Congress, and officials from both countries will sign an accord to cooperate on efforts aimed at lowering migration from Central America.

Lopez Obrador’s leftist party the National Regeneration Movement’s (MORENA) hold on the lower house of Congress weakened but the party dominated state votes.

A Mexican government official said the timing of Harris’s visit was not ideal. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the U.S. had pushed for the visit.

When asked if the election results would change the United States’ strategy in Mexico, Ricardo Zuniga, the Biden administration’s special envoy to the Northern Triangle countries said the relationship doesn’t depend on who is in power or domestic politics. “It really doesn’t impact our plans.”

Zuniga also said Harris and Lopez Obrador will witness the signing of an memorandum of understanding between the two countries that will entail cooperation between development agencies that work in Central America and examine how they plan to allocate aid.

The accord is aimed at boosting Harris’s efforts of lowering the number of immigrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle countries – Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras – to the United States.

Harris’s chief spokeswoman and senior adviser Symone Sanders said late on Monday Harris’s meeting with Lopez Obrador will follow up on their virtual meeting in May, when the two sought to expand cooperation between the United States and Mexico to address the root causes of immigration from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Sanders said Harris on Tuesday will look to build on topics discussed during the May meeting such as the two countries jointly agreeing to secure their borders and bolster human rights protections and spurring economic development in the Northern Triangle countries and in southern Mexico.

They will also discuss immigration specifically to the U.S.-Mexico border by stepping up enforcement, Sanders said. The Biden administration has been overwhelmed by the number of migrant children and families arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, mostly from Central America and has looked to Mexico for help in slowing transit across its territory.

On Monday, Harris met with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei and said the two leaders had “robust” talks on fighting corruption to deter immigration from Central America. Harris also bluntly warned immigrants to not come to the United States.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Mexico City, additional reporting by Dave Graham,; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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