US delegation travelling to Mexico to discuss upcoming summit

Mexico’s president has threatened to skip next month’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles if nations are excluded.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said a US delegation will travel to Mexico this week to discuss the upcoming Summit of the Americas, set to be held next month in Los Angeles, amid criticism that some nations will not be invited.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Lopez Obrador said the United States’ Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, would take part in the talks on Wednesday.

Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard said in a tweet that the Special Advisor for the Summit of the Americas, Christopher Dodd, charged with organising the event, also will attend.

The discussions come after Lopez Obrador said last week that if US President Joe Biden’s administration excludes Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela from the summit, he would skip it and send a representative instead.

“It’s time for deeds – deeds, not words,” the Mexican president said on Monday.

“I have confidence in President Biden because he is a man who seeks conciliation and dialogue,” added Lopez Obrador, who has urged an end to US sanctions against Cuba.

The Summit of the Americas will be held next month as the US seeks to stem irregular migration at its border with Mexico [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

Late last month, Cuba’s foreign minister accused Washington of exerting pressure on countries in the region to try to exclude Havana from the summit.

“There is no justification for excluding Cuba or any other country from this event that we have attended the last two editions,” Bruno Rodriguez said on Twitter at the time.

A few days later, US Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols told reporters that the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were “unlikely” to be at the Summit of the Americas.

Washington has been critical of a crackdown on anti-government protests in Cuba last year, while it has also slammed a wave of arrests of opposition figures in Nicaragua critical of longtime President Daniel Ortega.

Ties between the US and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government have been severed since 2019, with Washington imposing a series of crippling sanctions against the country in a bid to force Maduro from power.

Next month’s Summit of the Americas comes as the Biden administration is seeking to promote greater cooperation on key issues affecting the region, including most notably the large number of asylum seekers arriving at the US’s southern border with Mexico in search of protection.

US President Joe Biden speaks to ASEAN leaders in Washington
Biden spoke with Lopez Obrador in late April about their ‘visions’ for the upcoming summit [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]

The US government is also seeking to lift a contentious border restriction known as Title 42, which since March 2020 has allowed authorities to rapidly expel most asylum seekers without having to process their claims.

While the Department of Homeland Security said it would end the policy by May 23, nearly two dozen US states have joined a legal challenge to that plan, arguing its effects were not properly assessed.

Lopez Obrador said on Monday that the issue of the summit will be addressed on Monday in a telephone call between Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The Mexican president held a virtual meeting with Biden on April 29 during which “they discussed their visions for the Summit of the Americas”, among other issues, the White House said in a statement after the call.

“They both recognized that our shared history and shared communities create the strong foundation for friendship and cooperation into the future. They looked forward to meeting again at the June Summit of the Americas,” the statement also said.

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