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Mexico president set to meet with Trump next week in first-ever foreign visit

Trudeau praises new CUSMA trade agreement, coming into force on Wednesday
Speaking to reporters outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised the new Canada - UNited States - Mexico trade agreement (CUSMA), coming into force as of this Wednesday.

Mexico’s president is poised to hold a first meeting with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump next week after the Mexican government said on Tuesday his delegation had received an invitation to Washington for July 8-9.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a combative leftist, has not left his country since taking office in December 2018, and choosing to pay his first foreign visit to Trump is politically risky given the unpopularity of the U.S. president in Mexico.

Read more: U.S.-Mexico border refugee camp reports 1st COVID-19 case, raising alarms over spread

Two Mexican officials had told Reuters that the visit was likely to take place on July 8-9 and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard signaled those would be the dates.

“I can confirm that we have received an invitation from the U.S. government for an official work visit on July 8 and 9,” Ebrard said on Twitter, adding that the government would provide more information about the upcoming visit on Wednesday.

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Ebrard, Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Marquez and presidential Chief-of-Staff Alfonso Romo are due to accompany Lopez Obrador on the journey to Washington.

Ebrard did not say whether the invitation had been accepted, but as it was Lopez Obrador who in April first floated the idea of meeting Trump, that appears very likely.

Lopez Obrador had suggested the Trump talks would be early in July, though on Monday he said it would not be this week.

Read more: U.S. trade rep reignites tariff threats as CUSMA set to come into effect

The Mexican president says the Trump meeting is intended to celebrate the July 1 start of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trade deal that is replacing the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

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His plan to meet Trump has stirred criticism from both opposition ranks and some of his own supporters.

Trump has been widely disliked in Mexico since he described Mexican migrants as rapists and drug runners in his 2015-16 election campaign and for vowing to make Mexico pay for his planned border wall.

Trump tours 200th completed mile of U.S.-Mexico border wall in Arizona
Trump tours 200th completed mile of U.S.-Mexico border wall in Arizona

Lopez Obrador has publicly urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take part in the meeting, but Canada’s government has given no indication yet that he will attend.

A Canadian government source said any invitation to attend would be evaluated from a health perspective.

Under federal health rules, Trudeau faces 14 days in quarantine upon returning to Canada if he leaves the country. (Reporting by Dave Graham, Frank Jack Daniel and Steve Scherer; editing by Grant McCool and Gerry Doyle)

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