U.S. President Donald Trump wants to strengthen and improve ties with Mexico after "bumps in the road," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Mexico's next leader on Friday, following the leftist's landslide victory this month.
President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in turn, handed Pompeo a letter addressed to Trump with his plans to reset the relationship, focusing on trade, immigration, development and security, said Marcelo Ebrard, an aide to the incoming president.
Trump has irked Mexico with demands that it pay for a border wall and his comments that it does nothing to slow illegal immigration. He has also pushed to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to favour the United States.
"We know there have been bumps in the road between our two countries but President Trump is determined to make the relationship between our peoples better and stronger," Pompeo said at the start of the 50-minute meeting with Lopez Obrador, who will take office on Dec. 1.
Senior officials including Jared Kushner, Trump's adviser and son-in-law, were in the delegation led by Pompeo, which earlier met outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray.
Previous attempts by officials to pour oil on the waters of an increasingly turbulent bilateral relationship have been undone by intemperate tweets from the U.S. president himself.
Lopez Obrador has said that he wants good relations with the United States. Despite ideological differences with Trump, the two men share nationalist and populist leanings. But the president-elect's plans to shake up Mexico's war on drug cartels, including by reducing security cooperation with the United States, could put him on a collision course with Trump.
Speaking to the media after the meeting with Lopez Obrador, Pompeo said he had "respectfully reinforced" the importance of border security. Ebrard said the border wall was not mentioned in the talks, adding that he was reasonably optimistic that ties could improve between the two neighbours in coming years.
Outside the house, in Mexico City's scruffy but hip Roma neighbourhood where the meeting with Lopez Obrador was held, a small group of protesters, including immigrants deported from the United States, shouted slogans.