Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds his first news conference as president, which started at 7 a.m. local time in Mexico City, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

AP Photo/Christian Palma

Mexico's new leader says relations with Trump good

December 05, 2018 - 8:35 pm
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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's leftist new president said Wednesday that relations with U.S. President Donald Trump are "good," and the two will probably talk soon about the immigration issue.

Many analysts had been expecting President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to run into headlong conflict with Trump, especially since a caravan of about 7,000 Central American migrants set up camp on the U.S. border last month. The caravan's presence, and an attempt to cross the border en masse, led Trump to threaten to close the border.

But Lopez Obrador said he is hopeful the two sides can agree on development aid for Central America and southern Mexico to create jobs so people won't have to emigrate.

"We are in constant communication, and the communication is good," Lopez Obrador said Wednesday "Relations are good."

"It is very likely that in coming days we will talk with President Donald Trump about this issue in particular, the immigration issue," he said.

Mexico's Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard has been in Washington for talks on the issue.

But Lopez Obrador sidestepped questions about whether Mexico will agree to house migrants while their asylum claims are processed in the United State, as U.S. officials have reportedly proposed.

Still in his first week in office, Lopez Obrador also said he is weighing what steps to take in regard to his extremely loose personal security arrangements, which have been widely criticized.

"We are looking at this issue," the president said, "My friends, family, civic activists, you (the press) are constantly bringing it to my attention."

Lopez Obrador holds news conferences every morning, and at Tuesday's conference, an activist snuck in among the journalists and ran up to Lopez Obrador at the end of the conference to present him with a petition.

A staffer shadowed the woman but did not stop her from reaching the president, who accepted the papers she gave him, and gave her a hug and a peck on the cheek.

Reporters have to pass through a metal detector to enter the National Palace, where the conferences are held, but Lopez Obrador routinely shakes hands in crowds where there are no such security filters.

"I don't feel or perceive any threat," he said. "I think anybody who fights for justice has nothing to fear."

Lopez Obrador thrives on contact with common people and crowds; he has dismissed the military presidential guard corps and has set in motion plans to sell the presidential jet and flies economy class.

"I don't want to lose the relationship with the people, with the citizenry, I don't want a fence around me," Lopez Obrador said.

Lopez Obrador has attempted to quell nervousness in financial markets, especially concerns about the potential effects on investors of bonds that financed the partly built Mexico City airport project that Lopez Obrador has decided to cancel.

The new administration announced an offer to repurchase about $1.8 billion of the $6 billion outstanding airport bonds. But on Wednesday, a law firm representing some bond holders expressed doubts about the offer.

A statement issued by the Hogan Lovells law firm said the concerns involved a potential weakening of the collateral backing the bonds. Most bonds are backed by usage fees produced by the current airport.

Lopez Obrador also said Wednesday he would probably not grant any new oil exploration concessions for three years, while Mexico waits for the investment and production promised by private firms when they bid on previous rounds of concessions in offshore oil blocks.

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