Biden strikes optimistic tone in meeting with Mexican president
President Biden met with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador virtually on Monday afternoon, his second such bilateral meeting since taking office.
Biden stressed the importance of the United States-Mexico bilateral relationship in opening remarks in the Roosevelt Room, where he and other White House aides interacted with López Obrador and other Mexican officials via a large monitor.
“The United States and Mexico are stronger when we stand together,” Biden said. “There is a long and complicated history between our nations that haven’t always been perfect neighbors with one another, but we have seen over and over again the power and purpose when we cooperate. And we’re safer when we work together, whether it’s addressing the challenges of our shared border or getting this pandemic under control.”
Biden also noted that he made four visits to Mexico as vice president, of the 16 trips he made to Latin America during the Obama administration.
“I would like to thank you for starting the conversation by stating that Mexico is as important to you,” López Obrador said. “It is important that we base our good relationships on constant dialogue, periodic dialogue. I know our relations in the future will be even better.”
The two leaders were expected to speak about immigration and economic issues and the coronavirus pandemic; the two leaders were not scheduled to deliver statements following the virtual meeting.
The White House issued a U.S.-Mexico joint declaration later Monday evening stating that the two leaders “committed to working together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, to reinvigorate economic cooperation, and to explore areas of cooperation on climate change.”
“They also reaffirmed the importance of combating corruption and security cooperation,” the declaration states.
López Obrador was expected to ask Biden to consider providing Mexico with some of the U.S.’s coronavirus vaccine supply. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at an afternoon briefing Monday that the U.S. would not share vaccines with neighboring countries until it has the amount of vaccine needed to vaccinate the entire U.S. population, which is expected by the end of July.
“We will talk about that,” Biden told reporters as they exited the Roosevelt Room when asked whether the U.S. would send COVID-19 vaccines to Mexico.
The virtual meeting is Biden’s second with a foreign leader since taking office, following a video call with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week. Unlike Monday evening, both Biden and Trudeau delivered a joint statement following the engagement.
López Obrador had developed a genial relationship with former President Trump during his term despite Trump’s frequent insults of migrants from Latin America. López Obrador took his first official international trip as president to the U.S. last July to mark the start of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
But both Biden and López Obrador struck an optimistic tone with the meeting on Monday, and the new president’s attitude towards handling immigration issues may allow for more comity during the previous administration.
Biden has sought to undo Trump’s hardline immigration policies and earlier Monday Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said that the Biden administration may allow families separated at the southern border under the Trump administration to remain in the U.S.
The joint declaration issued Monday evening states that Biden and López Obrador “agreed to collaborate on a joint effort to address the root causes of regional migration, to improve migration management, and to develop legal pathways for migration.”
— Updated 7:26 p.m.