Mexican president staying out of wall debate, calling it an internal US matter

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday downplayed questions about President Trump’s Oval Office address, in which he argued a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is necessary to keep out drugs and criminals.

Reuters reported that López Obrador called Trump’s push for a border wall an internal U.S. matter that has been heightened by the U.S. political system. 

“When a new president takes office, almost as soon as they take power, they’re already thinking about reelection, and their opponents are doing the same,” López Obrador said at a news conference, noting that Mexico elects presidents for a six-year term.

{mosads}Mexico’s first leftist president in decades reportedly added that he’s working on a program that would bolster economic prospects for migrants in Mexico in exchange for the Trump administration’s support in boosting economic development in Central American countries, where migrants are fleeing poverty and violence.

López Obrador last month issued an executive order lowering taxes in municipalities along the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of spurring economic growth and encouraging residents to live and work in northern Mexico rather than migrate to the U.S.

The Mexican president, who was sworn in last month, has expressed optimism he will be able to work with the Trump administration, even as Trump has ratcheted up his rhetoric on the need to secure the border between the two countries.

Trump has demanded more than $5 billion from Congress to fund his proposed wall along the southern border. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for other border security measures, but have not given money for the wall.

The standoff has been at the heart of a partial government shutdown that has lasted 19 days and counting.

In Tuesday’s prime-time address, Trump portrayed the wall as an effective deterrent solution to what he called a humanitarian and security crisis. Democrats, however, accused the president of stoking fear with his remarks.

Trump is scheduled to host congressional leaders from both parties on Wednesday at the White House, then will travel to the border on Thursday. He has indicated he will declare a national emergency to construct the wall if no deal is reached.

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