U.S. to Seek $5.8 Billion to Address Roots of Migrant Caravans

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and Mexico pledged to work together to foster new public and private spending on development for Central America and southern Mexico to spur development and economic growth, in an attempt to address the roots of a migrant crises that has drawn President Donald Trump’s frustration.

The U.S. government, through public funds and private commitments via the Corporation of Private Investment Abroad, a development institution known as OPIC, will seek to gather $5.8 billion for funding for Central America and $4.8 billion for southern Mexico, according to a joint statement on Tuesday. Mexico is also pledging $25 billion for growth.

Much of the U.S. statement focused on previous funding commitments. It did add that the White House is seeking an additional $180 million in bilateral assistance for the region in its fiscal year 2019 request.

"This is very good news for Mexico," Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters in Mexico City after reading the joint statement.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office Dec. 1, and Trump will convene a joint cabinet-level meeting towards the end of January to work on a strategy for cooperation for Central America, according to the statement. Migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador traveling in a caravan have been camped on the Mexican border with the U.S. in Tijuana for weeks, drawing condemnation from Trump, and have clashed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Trump has called on Mexico to stop migrant caravans or risk a complete border closure. In contrast to the previous administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s constant rejection of Trump’s demand that Mexico pay for a border wall, Lopez Obrador has shifted focus of the conversation toward Central American development.

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