The president of the United States, Joe Biden, and his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, shook hands in San Francisco shortly after 10 a.m. local time and began the bilateral meeting held side by side at the annual Asia-Pacific summit. Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC)
At the beginning of the meeting, López Obrador said he was committed to his fight against fentanyl trafficking. “There is a commitment from Mexico to continue to support the non-allowance of the introduction of chemicals and fentanyl; we know very well the harm it causes to young people in the United States. This is an act of solidarity.”
The president of Mexico arrived at APEC with a large agenda of bilateral meetings, and it was started by his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, where he also discussed the issue of fentanyl. In that meeting, according to the Mexican Foreign Ministry, López Obrador “stressed the importance of reaching an agreement to exchange information on shipments from Asia.”
Fentanyl, at the center of the conversations between Biden and López Obrador, has caused thousands of deaths in the United States, and some sectors have accused Mexican cartels of being responsible for its commercialization. López Obrador’s administration denies this and says that everything is from Asia.
Another of the important topics of the Biden-López Obrador meeting is the migration crisis that is shaking the border between the two countries.
Biden thanked López Obrador for his “cooperation” to address “historic levels of migration” and said, “I know the issue is not easy.” The issue of immigration will play a key role in next year’s United States presidential election, with Donald Trump dedicating a good part of his campaign platform to accusing Biden of being lukewarm about it, defending policies against migration, and tightening punitive measures along the more than 3,100-kilometer border shared by the countries.
The United States is expected to close the fiscal year with a record number of encounters on its southern border and with hundreds of thousands of people traveling on migration routes that end in Mexico at the foot of the wall that separates them. From their neighbor to the north, Biden said to López Obrador, “I could not have had a better partner than you”.
López Obrador returned the compliments: “You are the first president in recent times to open legal channels for immigration. “He is an extraordinary president.”
The last meeting between the two leaders took place in January within the framework of the North American Leaders Summit held in Mexico.
Brian Nichols, the top US diplomatic figure for Latin America, said on Thursday that the meeting between Biden and López Obrador, in addition to discussing the immigration issue and the fight against fentanyl trafficking, will focus on “growing our strong economic cooperation” with Mexico and the expansion of cooperation in other subjects”.
The annual APEC summit, which ends this Friday in San Francisco, brings together the leaders of 21 economies in the Asia-Pacific bloc.