By Anthony Esposito
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -U.S. President-elect Joe Biden and Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Saturday committed to work on a humane strategy to regional migration by addressing its root causes in Central America and southern Mexico.
The two leaders in a phone call “discussed working together on a new approach to regional migration that offers alternatives to undertaking the dangerous journey to the United States,” a summary of the call provided by Biden’s team said.
The two leaders said they shared a desire to address the reasons for migration in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and southern Mexico.
Biden pledged to build “the regional and border infrastructure and capacity needed to facilitate a new orderly and humane approach to migration that will respect international norms regarding the treatment of asylum claims,” the statement from Biden’s team said.
Earlier this week Lopez Obrador suggested the two neighbors under Biden’s new Democratic administration work together on the thorny issue of immigration.
Republican President Donald Trump’s unprecedented demands that the Mexican government do more to reduce the flow of U.S.-bound migrants, including harboring migrants in Mexico while they wait for their U.S. court dates and paying for a border wall, caused friction in the relationship.
Biden emphasized the need to reinvigorate U.S.-Mexico cooperation on migration as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy and border security.
“We reaffirmed our commitment to working together for the well-being of our peoples and nations,” Lopez Obrador said on Twitter.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard tweeted: “There will be extensive bilateral cooperation and a very good relationship between the presidents of Mexico and the United States.”
A Mexican government source told Reuters that Biden and Lopez Obrador also spoke about investment for development and respect for the Mexican community in the United States.
The leaders of Latin America’s two biggest economies, Brazil and Mexico, congratulated Biden on Tuesday, the day after the U.S. Electoral College confirmed Biden’s Nov. 3 election win. The long delay ignited criticism they were running the risk of alienating Biden and his fellow Democrats.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Miguel Angel Gutierrez in Mexico City, Trevor Hunnicutt in Wilmington, Delaware, and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Grant McCool and Cynthia Osterman)