Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (File photo) Photograph:( Reuters )
But with Mexico facing key congressional and state elections on June 6, the nationalist president dedicated a good part of his news conference earlier in the day to expressing outrage over a funding decision by the US Agency for International Development
Just before an online meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday, Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador very publicly accused the US government of violating Mexico's sovereignty.
The issue apparently didn't arise in the meeting with Harris. "It's not on the agenda and it's not our intention to create a bad atmosphere," López Obrador said ahead of the talks.
The meeting itself 'the portion made public' focused on immigration, a key issue in US-Mexico relationship along with trade, border security and the pandemic.
"We are going to help on immigration,” López Obrador told Harris. “You can count on us."
But with Mexico facing key congressional and state elections on June 6, the nationalist president dedicated a good part of his news conference earlier in the day to expressing outrage over a funding decision by the US Agency for International Development.
"It is an interventionist act that violated our sovereignty," said López Obrador, who added that Mexico had filed a diplomatic note with the US Embassy.
Less than two hours later, it was all smiles and compliments when López Obrador and Harris met at least in the publicly shown prelude to the closed meeting, which comes ahead of a planned actual visit by Harris on June 8.
López Obrador commended US President Joe Biden for giving Harris the responsibility of finding ways to address the root causes of migration, and he said he planned to pitch again a proposal he floated last month at Biden's climate summit.
The Mexican president wants the US to fund a major expansion of one of his signature programmes, 'Planting Life’, which provides cash payments to farmers, who plant certain fruit and lumber trees.
The aim has been to help keep Mexicans in their rural communities.
Mexico has offered it as a way to help in Central America too. The more challenging part of López Obrador's pitch is that the US grant six-month work visas, and eventually citizenship, to those who participate in the programme.
The Biden administration, like the Trump and Obama administrations before it, has been overwhelmed by the number of migrant children and families arriving at the US-Mexico border and looked to Mexico for help in slowing transit across its territory.
Most of the migrants come from Central America, though the number of Mexican migrants has risen as well. Harris is also scheduled to visit Guatemala June 7.
"We agreed to work together to establish a strategic partnership to address root causes of migration, spur economic development, and expand security cooperation," Harris wrote later on Friday on Twitter.
(With inputs from agencies)