Mexico's Obrador to Turn Mnuchin Meeting Into Anti-Poverty Push

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s president-elect said he’ll use his meeting this week with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other U.S. officials to push his plan for regional anti-poverty programs, putting his stamp on relations with his northern neighbor.

Elected only last week, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his scheduled meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday in Mexico City will include Mnuchin, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

The leftist, known as AMLO, won Mexico’s July 1 election by a landslide as voters registered their disgust with rising corruption, crime and poverty. While he said Nafta would also be discussed Friday, he stressed the importance of shifting the focus toward improving the well-being of Mexicans and Central Americans as a deterrent to immigration and crime, signaling a meeting that could define his administration’s relationship with the U.S.

"The best way to face the immigration phenomenon and security problems, the best way to resolve both of these issues, is to promote development in Mexico," Lopez Obrador said at a news conference in Mexico City. Mnuchin’s attendance "indicates that he approves of the proposal to base our relationship on development cooperation."

Lopez Obrador doesn’t take office until Dec. 1 but has made clear that he’d be an active participant in the five-month transition. At the news conference he told reporters he’d call on the U.S. to continue Nafta and that his team would be available to advise outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto on those trade talks, but would be respectful of the current administration.

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