Jared Kushner, senior advisor and son-in-law to President Trump made a trek to Mexico today to meet with the country’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto. One of his goals was to smooth tensions between the two allies.
Kushner was joined in the journey by a delegation of State Department and National Security Council officials. The diplomatic mission comes amid tensions between the two countries over trade, the US drug war, immigration and the building of a border wall.
The relationship between Presidents Trump and Pena Nieto is reportedly strained following the Mexican president’s recent cancellation of a trip to Washington over a phone call between him and Trump. Officials from both countries assure that a working relationship is still existent between the US and Mexico.
But a Mexican opposition leader from the Party of the Democratic Revolution, Agustin Basave, opposed the meeting and hit out at Kushner’s downgraded security clearance, saying that “He is very weakened, and he is going to get weaker. More than anything, what he comes to say here will be contradicted by Trump the next day.”
On the other hand, Pena Nieto’s political rival from his last election defended the talks. “My desire is that the visit by Donald Trump’s relative to meet President Pena is for the good of both nations. Dialogue, seeking understanding is much better than confrontation,” said Andres Manual Lopez Obrador.
The United States National Security Council also endorsed the discussions, with spokesman Michael Anton telling ABC News: “We enjoy a great relationship with Mexico, and the two administrations have been working for a year to deepen our cooperation across a range of issues, including security, immigration, trade and economics.”
President Trump has threatened an import tax on Mexican goods in an effort to fund the construction of a border wall, which is reportedly the reason for President Pena Neito’s cancellation of his to the US for talks.
In the interest of US national security alliances, Mexico may actually be exempt from President Trump’s proposed tariffs on foreign goods if NAFTA can be renegotiated in favorable terms for the US. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Wednesday: “We expect the president will sign something by the end of the week and there are potential carve-outs for Mexico and Canada based on national security, and possibly other countries as well, based on that process.”