MEXICO CITY (REUTERS) - Senior Mexican officials on Thursday (Feb 23) expressed “worry and irritation” about US policies during a visit by two of President Donald Trump’s top envoys, who in turn sought to cool tempers after weeks of tension between the neighbours.
“There exists among Mexicans worry and irritation about what are perceived to be policies that could be harmful for the national interest and for Mexicans here and abroad,” Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told a news conference.
He was speaking after talks in the Mexican capital with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security chief John Kelly.
Looking stern as he stood beside the US visitors, Videgaray said it is “a complex time” for US-Mexican relations, which have gone downhill quickly since Donald Trump was elected US president last November.
The US government this week angered Mexico by saying it was seeking to deport many illegal immigrants to Mexico if they entered the United States from there, regardless of their nationality.
The immigration guidelines are the latest point of tension between neighbours that have also been at odds over Trump’s vow to build a wall on the border and his attempts to browbeat Mexico into giving concessions on trade.
Videgaray and President Enrique Pena Nieto have been criticised at home for being too willing to engage with Trump, who has repeatedly cranked up tension with the country ahead of key meetings.
Both sides on Thursday pledged further dialogue on migration, trade and security issues facing both nations. Kelly and Tillerson were much more measured in their words than either the Mexicans or Trump, who on Thursday said a military operation was being carried out to clear “bad dudes” from the United States.
Kelly said there would be “no use of military force in immigration operations,” and “no, repeat, no” mass deportations.
None of the officials made direct references to the deportation of immigrants from third countries to Mexico, or to paying for the border wall planned by Trump, a red-flag issue for Mexico.