- White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will take part in a meeting of US and Mexican officials in Mexico City on Wednesday.
- The talks will reportedly focus on security, immigration, and trade.
- Kushner, who has taken a leading role in President Donald Trump’s foreign policy, recently had his security clearance downgraded.
President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will meet with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, alongside representatives from the State Department and members of the National Security Council.
The meeting, which will include Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, with whom Kushner is close, “will review the status of various topics on the bilateral agenda,” Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a release, referring to Kushner as Trump’s “envoy.”
The talks will focus on security, immigration, trade, and economics, a Trump administration official told The Wall Street Journal.
The meeting comes a little more than a week after Peña Nieto scrapped plans to meet with Trump in the US, reportedly because Trump would not assure the Mexican president he wouldn’t discuss his insistence that Mexico pay for his proposed border wall.
The US, Mexico, and Canada recently finished the latest round of North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement renegotiations. The talks have only covered a few of the 30 chapters related the agreement and are progressing slowly.
“In spite of this hard work, we have not made the progress that many had hoped in this round,” US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said after the seventh round of negotiations on Monday.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said earlier this week that Mexico and Canada could be exempt from Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. Trump himself said on Wednesday that if the US was able to “make a deal with Canada and Mexico in NAFTA, then there will be no reason to do the tariffs with Canada and Mexico.”
The summit also comes a little more than a week after Kushner had his interim security clearance downgraded, restricting his access to sensitive, high-level intelligence.
Losing that clearance would prevent him from seeing a range of intelligence to which an official in his position would normally have access, including the president’s daily briefing, the most highly classified document the president sees.
But Kushner’s inclusion in the Wednesday meeting in Mexico City – along with US ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson’s unexpected announcement she will step down in May – indicates he will continue to play a central role in Trump’s foreign-policy agenda.
With his relationship to Trump and close ties to Videgaray and, by extension, Peña Nieto, Kushner has loomed large over US-Mexico relations, which have been thrown into tumult by Trump’s rhetoric and policy positions.
The president and his son-in-law appear to have largely cut the State Department and other officials out of US dealings with its southern neighbour – an approach that poses long-term risks to the relationship.
“It’s not that personal relationships per se are bad, but they’re problematic if they are the primary means of conducting diplomacy,” Greg Weeks, a political-science professor at UNC Charlotte, told Business Insider in late February.
Peña Nieto, and likely his party, will leave office at the end of this year, “so those relationships will become irrelevant,” Weeks said.
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