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Trump presses Mexico to speed up NAFTA talks: Lopez Obrador

Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference at the party's headquarters in Mexico City
PEDRO PARDO (AFP/File)
NAFTA talks are due to resume Thursday between Canada, Mexico and the United States

Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday that his US counterpart Donald Trump had urged him to accelerate negotiations to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"I believe a successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement will lead to even more jobs and higher wages for hard-working American and Mexican workers -- but only if it can go quickly, because otherwise I must go a much different route," Trump wrote in the letter.

"It would not be my preference, but would be far more profitable for the United States and its taxpayers."

The letter, which was sent in English and in Spanish, was read to the press by incoming foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard with American approval.

It was a response to a letter Lopez Obrador sent to Trump via a delegation of senior US officials that visited him in Mexico City on July 13. 

In his letter, the incoming president said Mexico wants a relationship of "respect, friendship and focused on development cooperation," and said that the more Mexico gets developed, the fewer people will have to leave the country in search of work.

He also spoke of a "new relationship" with the US.

"I agree with the four priorities you have identified: trade, migration, development and security," Trump said in his text.

"My team has worked hard over the past 18 months to increase cooperation with Mexico in these areas. I have directed them to redouble those efforts with your incoming team."

US-Mexican relations have been severely strained since Trump won the 2016 presidential election after a campaign laced with anti-Mexican insults, attacks on NAFTA and vows to make Mexico pay for a wall on their border.

Since then, US tariffs on Mexican steel and aluminum, Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy on undocumented immigrants, and President Enrique Pena Nieto's two abrupt cancellations of visits to Washington have only added to the tension.

Lopez Obrador, 64, pledged during the campaign to "put (Trump) in his place."

But both men say they had a positive phone call the day after Mexico's July 1 election, and Lopez Obrador has invited Trump to his inauguration.

NAFTA talks are due to resume Thursday between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

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