MEXICO CITY – President Enrique Peña Nieto will only meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly if the results of the visiting US officials’ meetings with their Mexican counterparts warrant it, Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo said Thursday.
“The reception at (the Los) Pinos (presidential residence) will take place, if it takes place, in the context of the agreements that can be reached during the course” of the day, Guajardo told Televisa, adding that the two parties “were setting the agenda yesterday.”
“It all depends on the agreements that are reached and whether there are important and positive things, or very clear messages that can be sent through these emissaries,” Guajardo said.
The condition for a meeting with Peña Nieto is that there “are substantive elements” to discuss, the economy secretary said.
Guajardo said he would be taking part in the meetings along with other members of Peña Nieto’s Cabinet.
The US State Department, for its part, said Tillerson’s official agenda included a closed-door meeting with the Mexican president at 1:00 pm.
Relations between Mexico City and Washington have been tense since Donald Trump moved into the White House on Jan. 20.
Trump promised during the presidential campaign that he would secure the southern border and crack down on illegal immigration from Mexico and other countries.
Trump also threatened to walk away from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying it was a destroyer of American jobs and benefited Mexico, although he later said he would seek to renegotiate the trade agreement.
The president has repeatedly said that Mexico has taken advantage of the United States, pointing to roughly $60 billion annual trade deficits and saying Mexico City had done little to control the flow of drugs and illegal immigrants across the US-Mexico border.
Trump has vowed to build a wall along the vast US-Mexican border, which runs 3,200 kilometers (1,988 miles).
Mexico, for its part, has repeatedly said it would not pay for any border wall.
Earlier this month, a controversy erupted over press reports that Trump allegedly threatened to send troops to Mexico during a telephone conversation with Peña Nieto on Jan. 27.
Mexican presidential spokesman Eduardo Sanchez, however, said in a newspaper interview that reports about US threats to send troops south of the border were absolutely false.