Cranky neighbours: US delegation heads south

Cranky neighbours: US delegation heads south

The first high-level US delegation since Donald Trump’s inauguration will travel to Mexico City on Thursday, a visit that’s sure

Photo: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

Photo: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

The first high-level US delegation since Donald Trump’s inauguration will travel to Mexico City on Thursday, a visit that’s sure to produce a spate of barbed exchanges.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will lead the contingent, which will also include Homeland Security Chief John Kelly. Tillerson met his Mexican counterpart in Washington DC in early February to smooth over relations between the two neighbours, which have been anything but neighbourly. Ironically, the secretary of state’s travel partner has been the one at the very core of America’s newfound antagonism towards Mexico.

Mr Kelly has had a busy week. On Tuesday he announced he’d hire 15,000 new officers to patrol America’s borders and enforce tough new immigration laws. More problematic – at least for Thursday’s visit – is Kelly’s insistence that the wall along the Mexican border is “necessary”.

The much-talked about barrier – and just who will pay for it – has been at the heart of strained relations since Donald Trump’s inauguration. In protest, President Enrique Pena Nieto called off a planned trip to the White House on January 31 (a move that proved popular at home).

Thursday’s visit will set the tone for Mexican-American ties moving forward. Expect things to get frosty.

Dig deeper: NAFTA: Trump riles regional trade