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Mexico Pres. to Visit Trump July 8-9   07/01 06:24


   MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexican President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador will visit 
U.S. President Donald Trump on July 8 and 9 in his first trip abroad as the 
country's leader, the foreign relations secretary confirmed Tuesday.

   The trip has proved controversial among many Mexicans because it comes just 
months before U.S. elections, and because of Trump's previous disparaging 
comments about Mexican immigrants. Many here remember former President Enrique 
Pea Nieto's ill-starred meeting with Trump that some feel strengthened the 
then-presidential candidate ahead of the 2016 U.S. election.

   Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard wrote in his Twitter account that 
more details about the visit by Lpez Obrador, who is famous in Mexico for 
declining international travel until now, will be forthcoming Wednesday.

   The trip was originally meant to celebrate the July 1 implementation of the 
U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. However, Lpez Obrador will spend July 1 in 
Mexico celebrating the second anniversary of his July 1, 2018 election victory.

   The two leaders have displayed surprisingly cordial relations despite 
ideological differences. Trump said of Lpez Obrador last week, "He's really a 
great guy. I think he'll be coming into Washington pretty soon." Lpez Obrador 
has called Trump a friend and said his administration has shown respect for 

   "The main objective of the meeting proposed by President Lpez Obrador is 
promoting our interests, and is not related to internal (U.S.) political 
processes," Roberto Velasco Alvarez, the Foreign Relations Department's 
director of North American affairs, wrote in his Twitter account last week.

   Lpez Obrador said "it is very important to participate at the launch of an 
agreement that I consider historic."

   However, Mexico's former ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhn, called the 
trip "a colossal political, electoral, diplomatic and long-term strategic 

   Lpez Obrador has studiously avoided conflict with Mexico's much larger 
neighbor, even after Trump threatened to put crippling tariffs on Mexican goods 
imported into the U.S. unless Mexico did more to stop migrant caravans. Mexico 
effectively blocked the caravans.

   Trump angered many Mexicans when as a candidate in 2016, he said Mexicans 
crossing the border brought drugs, crime and "tremendous infectious disease" to 
the U.S.. At the time, critics said Pea Nieto gave him a pulpit when he 
invited both U.S. candidates to Mexico City in 2016, but only Trump accepted. 
After taking office, Trump continued to promise to build a border wall and make 
Mexico pay for it.

   In a recent piece for the Washington Post, Mexican columnist Len Krauze 
wrote about the 2016 meeting, "Why would Lpez Obrador, who was so critical of 
Pea Nieto's decision to prop up Trump during a contentious election, risk 
international opprobrium and condemnation at home over the exact same mistake?"

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