U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the White House on July 8, 2020. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the White House on July 8, 2020. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Trump forgoes insults of past, calls Mexico cherished friend

New U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement celebrated

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, who has denigrated Mexican migrants and threatened the U.S. ally with crippling tariffs, welcomed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the White House on Wednesday, called him a cherished partner and claimed the countries’ economic and security ties were reaching new heights.

Trump’s warm words were in stark contrast to the days when he called Mexicans “rapists” and railed against migrants entering the United States illegally. López Obrador had cordial words for Trump, too, saying that while they have disagreed, it was better to find common ground and avoid slinging insults.

The meeting was billed as a celebration of economic ties and the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, but critics in Mexico worried López Obrador was being used as a political pawn to bolster the Trump campaign and his “America first,” anti-illegal migration agenda. Despite the verbal backslapping in the Rose Garden, thorny issues — from immigration to investment — remain.

Trump has dialed back his harsh words since López Obrador took office a year and a half ago. And López Obrador signalled he wanted to put the insults in the past.

“As in the best times of our political relations, during my term as president of Mexico, instead of insults toward me and more importantly against my country, we have received from you understanding and respect,” López Obrador said.

Their relationship is an odd bromance: López Obrador is a veteran leftist and Trump tacks right.

“Some thought that our ideological differences would have led us inevitably to confrontation,” López Obrador said. “Fortunately, this bad omen didn’t materialize and I consider that in the future there will be no need to break our good political relations, nor the friendship between our governments.”

Later, Lopez Obrador said: “The forecasts failed. We didn’t fight. We are friends, and we’re going to keep being friends.”

Trump their friendship developed “against all odds.”

Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien said the two leaders have “really hit it off” and exchanged gift baseball bats during their meeting. Trump signed and gave López Obrador a custom Louisville Slugger, and the Mexican president gave the president a bat manufactured by indigenous people in southern Mexico, O’Brien said on Fox Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

The two signed a declaration highlighting U.S.-Mexico relations and the USMCA. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided not to come to Washington to celebrate the agreement, citing scheduling conflicts.

Trump and López Obrador also pledged to co-operate in responding to the coronavirus, which has rocked both nations. Since March 2020, movement across the border has been restricted to essential travel while allowing the flow of goods and services. Last year, Mexico became the largest goods trading partner of the United States.

López Obrador arrived at the White House after morning stops at the Lincoln Memorial and a statue of Benito Juarez, a former Mexican president and national hero. Trump and a military honour guard greeted him at the White House. The two posed for pictures and Trump flashed a thumb’s up. They also were to have dinner at the White House with about 20 U.S. and Mexican business leaders, including Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world.

With the U.S. looking to reduce its dependence on China for parts and supplies, Mexico is well-positioned to step into the void, though U.S. businesses have viewed some recent actions taken by the Mexican government as harmful to U.S. investors and say they undermine the framework of the USMCA. López Obrador didn’t publicly address U.S. business’ concerns.

“If there is not a better investment climate for both foreign and domestic private investment, it will be very difficult to use the opportunity of USMCA and the drift between China and the United States to our advantage,” Geronimo Gutierrez, who was Mexico’s ambassador to the U.S. in 2017 and 2018, said during a virtual event hosted by the Wilson Center.

With no meetings planned with former Vice-President Joe Biden, López Obrador seemingly is banking that Trump will win a second term. The Democratic Party chairman, Tom Perez, recalled Trump’s insults of Mexicans and said the president was now trying to take credit for a trade deal that Democrats in Congress helped make possible.

“Latino communities, immigrants, and the American people deserve a president with the empathy and experience to lead us forward, not a demagogue who cheers on bigotry from the White House,” Perez said, urging voters to elect Biden.

When he arrived at the White House, López Obrador and Trump did not shake hands as would have been customary before the pandemic. White House spokesman Judd Deere said all members of the Mexican travelling delegation were tested for the virus. The presidents sat at tables positioned many feet apart to sign their joint statement.

López Obrador likes to point out that Trump helped Mexico reach a deal with other oil-producing nations to cut production and aided Mexico in obtaining more ventilators to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Both presidents talk about a blossoming friendship that seems to stem from their pursuit of nationalist agendas.

Many Mexicans, however, remain wary of Trump, whose denunciations are intended to rally his most loyal supporters. Trump has threatened tariffs to strong-arm Mexico into playing an uncomfortable role in U.S. immigration policy and insisted that Mexico will pay for a border wall meant to keep migrants out of the U.S.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany wouldn’t get into detail about what the two presidents said about immigration. Mexico deployed 27,000 troops to the border to help stem the tide of illegal immigrants from Central American.

By The Associated Press

Donald TrumpMexico

Just Posted

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

File Photo
Blackfalds RCMP seeking suspects in traffic collision

RCMP are asking the public for help identifing two suspects wanted for multiple offences

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday 12, 2020.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Most Read