Mexican Leader Says Biden Offers $4B for Central America


Mexican Leader Says Biden Offers $4B for Central America

US President Joe Biden’s first appeals to foreign leaders went to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at a tense time for the United States’ relations with its North American neighbours.

The Mexican president said on Saturday that Biden had told him the United States would send $4 billion to help development in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – countries whose difficulties have spawned waves of migration through Mexico to United States.

Lopez Obrador, who spoke to Biden by phone on Friday, said the two discussed immigration and the need to address the root causes of human migration.

Mexico has put an end to recent attempts by migrant caravans from Central America to cross Mexico.

Biden’s appeal to Trudeau, also on Friday, came after the Canadian prime minister this week publicly expressed his disappointment at Biden’s decision to issue an executive order halting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The long-contested project was to transport some 800,000 barrels of oil per day from the Alberta tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Biden told Trudeau that by issuing the order he was following through on an election promise to stop construction of the pipeline, a senior Canadian government official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation.

The White House said in a statement that Biden acknowledges Trudeau’s disappointment with his Keystone decision.

Biden’s call with Lopez Obrador also came at a tense time – days after the Mexican president accused the United States Drug Enforcement Administration of fabricating drug trafficking charges against the former secretary of the United States. Defense of the country.

As Mexico continues to commit to blocking massive movements of Central American migrants to the US border, there is no shortage of potential flashpoints between the two countries.

Mexico has demanded the return of former Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos after his arrest in Los Angeles in October, threatening to restrict US agents in Mexico if he is not returned. US prosecutors have agreed to drop the charges and return Cienfuegos to Mexico.

However, Mexico passed a law restricting foreign agents and removing their immunity anyway, and then released the U.S. case against Cienfuegos, which Mexican prosecutors quickly wiped out of all charges.

Lopez Obrador said in a statement Friday that the conversation with Biden was “friendly and respectful.”

The White House said Biden had mentioned “the reversal of the draconian immigration policies of the previous administration.”

Trudeau told reporters ahead of Friday’s call that he would not allow his differences with Biden over the project to become a source of tension in relations between the United States and Canada.

“It won’t always be a perfect alignment with the United States,” Trudeau said. “This is the case with any president, but we are in a situation where we are much more aligned on values ​​and focus. I look forward to working with President Biden. ”

Biden signed the executive order to halt construction of the pipeline just hours after he was sworn in.

“Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline license in place would not be in line with the economic and climate imperatives of my administration,” Biden’s executive order said.

Critics say the increasing activities are increasing greenhouse gas emissions and threatening Alberta’s rivers and forests. On the US side, environmentalists have expressed concerns that the pipeline – it would cross the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the largest underground freshwater deposits in the world – being too risky.

But supporters of the project say it would create thousands of jobs on both sides of the border.

The project was proposed in 2008, and the pipeline has become emblematic of the tensions between economic development and the reduction of fossil fuel emissions that cause climate change. The Obama administration rejected it, but President Donald Trump revived it and was a staunch supporter. Construction has already started.

Biden and Trudeau also discussed the outlook for Canada’s procurement with the COVID-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, according to a second senior Canadian government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for describe a private conversation.

Canada received all of its doses of Pfizer from a Pfizer facility in Puurs, Belgium, but Pfizer has informed Canada that it will not receive any doses next week and that it will get 50% less than expected over the next week. next three weeks. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has publicly called on Biden to share a million doses manufactured at Pfizer’s Michigan facility.

The United States Federal Government has reached an agreement with Pfizer in which the first 100 million doses of the vaccine produced in the United States will be the property of the United States government and will be distributed in the United States Anita Anand, Canada’s Federal Minister of Procurement, said the doses that leave the Michigan plant are intended for distribution in the United States.

The two leaders also spoke extensively on trade, defense and climate issues. Trudeau also raised the case of two Canadians imprisoned in China in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a senior Huawei executive who was apprehended in Canada on a US extradition request, according to the prime minister’s office.