Mexico's president open to negotiating with US over tariff threat

Says tariff threat is unfair

By Veronica Stracqualursi, Susanna Capelouto and Sandra Sanchez, CNN
Pedro Mera/2018 Getty Images

Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador looks on after casting his vote during the Mexico 2018 Presidential Election on July 1, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. 

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's president on Saturday said he's open to negotiating with the United States after President Donald Trump threatened to slap tariffs on all Mexican imports over immigration.

"I believe we will be able to reach an agreement, because reason is with us," Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said at a news conference in Veracruz, insisting that Mexico wants to maintain a good relationship with the United States.

López Obrador said Mexico is not interested in a tariff war, but slammed Trump's tariff proposal as unfair.

"In these moments we have national unity. That all, regardless of our political or ideological differences, of our conviction, of our religions, we defend Mexico. Because our country does not deserve that treatment," López Obrador told reporters.

Trump announced Thursday that he would impose tariffs of 5% on all imports from Mexico to the US, gradually increasing to 25% in October if Mexico's government doesn't do more to stop illegal border crossings.

López Obrador said there are already plans in place to address the flow of migrants and they are getting good results, echoing his remarks on Friday where he assured reporters that his government has addressed the migration issue.

"We've been doing important work, like we haven't done before, but we would like to inform President Donald Trump with data there is something that is evident," López Obrador said Friday during a news conference in Mexico City.

He attributed the increase in migrants crossing the southern border in the US to a "crisis" occurring in Latin American countries.

In an open letter to Trump published late Thursday, López Obrador had hinted that Mexico would not retaliate by imposing tariffs.

"This is not an eye for an eye, we need to find dialogue with a lot of diplomacy. We will act responsibly," he wrote.

As of Friday morning, Trump and López Obrador still had not spoken directly.

A delegation from Mexico is traveling to Washington to meet Wednesday with US officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Ahead of the visit, Pompeo held a phone call with Mexico's Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard on Friday, according to State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, who would not comment on the details of the conversation.

"We maintain an ongoing dialogue and close cooperation with Mexico on a wide range of issues, including border security efforts." Ortagus said. "The United States and Mexico recognize that managing our shared border is a challenge common to both countries."

Opponents of Trump's tariff proposal warn the move would hurt American consumers and undercut efforts to ratify the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

CNN's Haley Byrd, Donna Borak, Claudia Dominguez and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.

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