Presidents Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico and Joseph Biden of the United States Wednesday held their second face-to-face meeting, and the first since the Latin American leader chose not to attend last month's Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles following the White House's decision not to invite Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to the event.
Despite our differences and grievances, we have been able to agree as good friends, López Obrador said after the encounter in Washington, during which he also pledged to increase crude oil and fuel exports to his northern neighbor to reduce inflationary pressures in both countries.
Much of this gasoline [that we are willing to support with] we are producing at the Pemex refinery that you allowed us to purchase in Deer Park, Texas. We put at your government's disposal more than 1,000 kilometers of gas pipelines along the southern border with Mexico to transport gas from Texas to New Mexico, Arizona, and California for a volume capable of generating up to 750 megawatts of electric energy and supplying three million people, approximately, López Obrador told Biden.
I know that his adversaries, the conservatives, are going to cry foul, but without a bold program of development and welfare it will not be possible to solve the problems, the Mexican leader added.
Biden pointed out that the United States has invested US$ 3.4 billion in border infrastructure to make it safer and more efficient for the crossing of people seeking the American dream. The Democrat ruler also recalled the fentanyl crisis that the American people are going through. Agencies such as the FBI and DEA have said that most of this drug comes from drug cartels operating in Mexico. Since April, the United States has deployed more than 1,500 troops, carried out more than 20,000 operations, and made more than 3,000 arrests in anti-drug trafficking operations, Biden pointed out.
The US President also underlined that incidents such as the death of 53 migrants in an abandoned truck in San Antonio, Texas, show the need to establish new terms and rules to control irregular migratory flows. We reached historic levels in the last five years of visas to Central Americans and we are at a pace that will allow us to double the number of visas in the next fiscal year. Thank you, Mr. President, because you are also issuing more work visas in Mexico to Central Americans, Biden noted.
I say this in a sincere and most respectful manner. It is indispensable for us to regularize and give certainty to migrants who for years have lived and worked in a very honest way and are also contributing to the development of this great nation, added Biden, who also pointed out that his administration is leading the way in creating opportunities for legal pathways for migrants and recalled that last year it issued a record 300,000 visas for Mexican workers in non-agricultural jobs.
AMLO also highlighted that we must recognize that, for some time now, we have not been producing enough. In the last three decades it was comfortably accepted that China would be the world's factory, with the fallacious idea that, because of globality, there was no need for self-sufficiency in food, energy, and other goods because we could import what we needed, the Mexican leader stressed. He added that this theory had been proven wrong by cases like the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
López Obrador has nevertheless refused to join western powers' sanctions against Russia, described Washington's aid to Kyiv as a gross mistake and called NATO's policy immoral.
On the subject of China being the world's factory, we produce more agricultural products, Biden replied.
López Obrador had met earlier in the day with Vice President Kamala Harris. He described her as an intelligent, honest woman with principles.
The two heads of state met in person for the first time on November 18, 2021, and also had two other virtual meetings, on March 1, 2021, and April 29, 2022.
After Wednesday's diplomatic encounter with a neighbor, Biden left on a mission to the Middle East to bring Israel and Saudi Arabia closer together, amid great expectations for his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He is also expected to visit the West Bank Friday and leave the same day for Saudi Arabia.
He will be the first US president to travel by plane from Israel to Saudi Arabia. His predecessor Donald Trump (2017-2021) had to make the trip the other way around.
The White House has made it clear that the main objective is to deepen Israel's integration in the Middle East by building on the momentum of the Abraham Accords, brokered by Trump and through which Israel has normalized relations with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.
Israel and Saudi Arabia are not expected to announce the establishment of diplomatic relations during Biden's trip, but certain steps could be taken such as opening Saudi airspace to Israeli flights so that they can shorten flight times to China, India, or Thailand.
Biden has not shown any signs of wanting to reverse his predecessor's decision to declare Jerusalem the Israeli capital. He did pledge to reopen the consulate for Palestinian affairs in Jerusalem that Trump closed in 2019, but so far there has been no progress and that has generated some skepticism among Palestinians.