By Dave Graham
MEXICO CITY, June 30 – A visit by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to Washington to meet his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump has been planned for around the middle of next week, two sources familiar with the matter said.
Lopez Obrador previously said the meeting could take place soon after July 1 but on Monday announced it would not be this week.
Planning is underway for the visit to be on July 8-9, according to a Mexican official familiar with the matter. A second official said the trip was very likely to be those days.
Foreign ministry spokesman Daniel Millan said the conversations are continuing but that the government was “exploring dates after 4th July”. Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday the government would provide details on Wednesday.
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).
It was in April that Lopez Obrador initially floated the idea of meeting the U.S. president. For the Mexican president to make his first foreign trip to see Trump has stirred criticism from both opposition ranks and some of his own supporters.
Trump, who referred to Mexican migrants as rapists and drug runners in his 2015-16 election campaign and vowed to make Mexico pay for his planned border wall, is held in low public esteem in Mexico, so the visit carries risks for Lopez Obrador.
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 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)