MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he hoped a deal could be struck with the United States on Thursday to resolve a migration dispute and avoid the Trump administration imposing trade tariffs on Mexico next week.
Speaking at his regular morning news conference, Lopez Obrador said he was confident the two sides would reach a deal, and repeated that Mexico would act prudently in talks with senior officials from the U.S. government.
“The U.S. authorities have behaved very well, President Trump, because they haven’t closed themselves off to dialogue and we hope that a deal is reached today,” he said.
Trump last week said he would apply escalating tariffs of 5% on all Mexican exports to the United States if Mexico did not contain a surge in migration, mostly from Central America, that has sparked a jump in apprehensions on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The tariffs would begin on June 10 and would gradually rise to 25% by October if there was no deal, Trump said.
A Mexican delegation led by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard is in Washington seeking to broker a deal with the U.S. government, and high level meetings continue on Thursday.
When asked whether Mexico would strike back in the event of U.S. tariffs, Lopez Obrador said “all options” were being considered by his government but he did not want talk about possible retaliation for the time being.
He was insistent that Mexico needed to apply its laws to stem illegal immigration, while reiterating that the problem needed to be addressed at the point of origin.
Most of the migrants caught trying to enter the United States illegally are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Lopez Obrador expressed particular concern about Honduras when talking about the circumstances that were leading to increased migration.
Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Diego Ore; Editing by Dave Graham and Bill Trott