MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he spoke by telephone with U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, suggesting they meet in June or July for what would be their first in-person encounter.
Lopez Obrador said that Trump called him to discuss a prior request by the Mexican president for the United States to sell it thousands of ventilators to help treat COVID-19 patients.
He said Trump promised on Friday’s call to sell Mexico 1,000 ventilators by the end of the month, with the option to buy more. On April 10, Lopez Obrador asked Trump for 10,000 ventilators, and 10,000 monitors.
“He guaranteed that at the end of this month we will have 1,000 and we could acquire some more because our country does not have restrictions for the purchase of equipment,” Lopez Obrador posted on Twitter.
He did not say what Trump’s reaction was to the suggestion of a meeting, which he said would be to thank the U.S. president personally for the medical equipment and to celebrate the implementation of a new trade deal.
Mexico, the United States and Canada are trying to implement the USMCA trade deal that replaces NAFTA by June 1, although business groups are calling for a postponement amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Mexican search for medical equipment comes as the number of infections is forecast to rise sharply in coming weeks, possibly overwhelming the under-resourced public health system.
Lopez Obrador said Trump told him there would be no restrictions on equipment sales to Mexico, as countries across the region battle to buy scarce medical equipment to treat people suffering from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Sharay Angulo; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Jonathan Oatis)