Trump hosts Mexican leader at White House to mark USMCA

President Donald Trump will meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the White House Wednesday to celebrate the new North American trade deal, but the third party to the agreement won’t be there.

For his first trip outside Mexico since his 2018 election, Lopez Obrador will visit Trump to mark the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which formally replaced the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement on July 1.

The leaders will first have a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office before signing a joint declaration in the Rose Garden at 3:35 p.m. EDT.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was invited to the summit, but will not attend. A spokesperson said scheduling conflicts and coronavirus restrictions interfered with plans to travel to Washington, D.C.

Trudeau will instead speak to Trump by phone.

Lopez Obrador will attend a working dinner Wednesday evening in the East Room, where he and Trump will speak to the press.

The Mexican leader’s U.S. visit has been criticized in Mexico as possibly politically beneficial for Trump.

In an open letter last month, former foreign minister Bernardo Sepulveda argued there’s no justification for Wednesday’s “irrelevant ceremony,” which he said could help Trump’s campaign. He attacked Trump for “vilifying” Mexicans and “attacking, stigmatizing, offending and humiliating” Mexican migrants by calling them “criminals and rapists.”

Lopez Obrador has in the past expressed a personal friendship with Trump, who tweeted in December that the Mexican leader is someone he “likes” and “respects.”

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