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Mexican, Salvadoran presidents to meet on Mexico border

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By Agence France-Presse

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday he will meet his Salvadoran counterpart Nayib Bukele this week at Mexico’s southern border, amid a crisis over Central Americans migrating toward the US.

Mexico's new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/ MANILA BULLETIN

Mexico’s new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/ MANILA BULLETIN

Lopez Obrador, whose government is under pressure from Washington to reduce the surge of undocumented migrants, said he would meet with Bukele Thursday at noon (1700 GMT) in Tapachula, in the southern state of Chiapas — the entry point for many Central Americans trying to reach the United States.

“After he was elected (in February), he visited me here (in Mexico City), and we talked about cooperating on economic development,” Lopez Obrador told a press conference.

“We also agreed I would invite him to come when I visited Chiapas, and now we have set a date for that meeting.”

El Salvador is, along with Honduras and Guatemala, part of Central America’s “Northern Triangle,” the source of most of the migrants fleeing violence and poverty and arriving at the US-Mexican border in ever swelling numbers.

US officials detained 144,000 migrants at the border in May, up 32 percent from April and 278 percent from May 2018. The total included a record 89,000 migrants traveling in families.

President Donald Trump has piled pressure on Mexico to reduce the flow of migrants, using the threat of tariffs to goad the government into action.

Mexico agreed earlier this month to deploy 6,000 National Guardsmen to reinforce its southern border.

But Lopez Obrador, 65, insists a border crackdown cannot be the only solution, and is pushing the US to fund economic development projects in Central America.

He and Bukele, 37, both represent an anti-establishment wave in the region, newly elected at the head of upstart political parties — Lopez Obrador from the left and Bukele from the right.

Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, called Bukele “young, intelligent, progressive, a very good person.”

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