Monday, November 29

The US and Mexico will negotiate a new bilateral security agreement

(CNN) — The American Secretaries of State, Antony Blinken; Justice, Merrick Garland, and National Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, will meet with their Mexican counterparts on Friday in Mexico to discuss a new security agreement called “Mexico-United States Bicentennial Framework for Security, Public Health and Safe Communities.” a senior US administration official said Thursday.

“The United States and Mexico recognize the need to adapt bilateral security cooperation to address the concerns and priorities of both governments,” the official told reporters. “Our security challenges are shared and so is the responsibility to solve them.”

The new agreement will update or possibly replace the $ 3 billion Merida Initiative, a 2008 pact aimed at fighting drug trafficking and organized crime.

“When it comes to Merida, look, this is an initiative that’s been on the books for, I think it is, 13 years,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in a briefing Thursday. “We believe that we must review our bilateral security cooperation and we need an approach that addresses the concerns and priorities of both governments, and this will really be one of the central elements of the discussions tomorrow.”

Blinken will lead the US delegation and meet with Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the official said.

‘Balanced and sustainable’

The White House described Friday’s meetings as the first High-Level Security Dialogue between the United States and Mexico.

A second senior administration official said the new approach to security will be “balanced and sustainable,” and will consider not only security challenges, but also the factors that create them.

Officials did not address operational priorities, but the second official said Mayorkas was committed to a “humane approach to migration management” and a third administration official said work to go after drug cartels would continue.

The framework will also address the flow of arms from the United States to Mexico, an area of ​​deep concern and frustration for Mexican officials.

The new agreement “will make clear the commitment of both countries, of course, especially the United States in this regard to work, to deal with the flow of arms to Mexico,” said the third official. “That does require a collaborative effort. It requires working together on tracing firearms, thinking of strategies to go after, that is, investigate and prosecute traffickers and make sure they are held accountable on both sides of the border. happy to say it’s a job that’s already in progress. “

This third official said that the new agreement “will allow us to learn from each other’s prevention strategies and will also allow us to jointly set enforcement priorities, including with respect to trafficking and firearms, illegal narcotics, human trafficking and smuggling,” extraditions of criminals, money laundering and illicit finance. In both aspects, both in the attack on crime and in the attack on the causes of crime, the framework gives a new beginning, a new beginning that will make citizens of both countries are safer, “said the third administration official.

Officials did not comment on whether a dispute over visas for officials of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would be discussed.

They also declined to say how much funding would go into the new deal, saying they want the “needs and details” of the job to drive the numbers and resources needed.

Price said the United States hopes to preserve “significant gains” from the Merida Initiative, which some Mexican officials have criticized, arguing that the injection of money led to increased violence, arms trafficking and drug use.

‘Very positive’

Friday’s high-level security meeting follows an economic dialogue between Biden administration officials and their Mexican counterparts that had been suspended during the Trump administration.

“I have to say that if the security dialogue matches in quality with what we experienced with the economic dialogue that it would be, and I hope it will be, very, very positive and also productive,” Blinken said Wednesday at a press conference in Paris.

Speaking of the meetings in Mexico, Blinken added that he and the other US officials “will be spending time with President López Obrador as well as our counterparts and we have a very wide-ranging agenda and I think that is evidence of the fact that the relationship While some topics like migration understandably get a lot of headlines, it’s incredibly broad and deeply ingrained, so I think we’ll cover a lot of ground. “

Price said Thursday that it is not yet clear what form a new security agreement would take, but that the United States wants to maintain the gains made through the Merida Initiative.

“It has allowed Mexican law enforcement agencies international accreditation at the federal and state level, which has resulted in greater transparency, professionalization of institutions and respect for human rights,” Price said. “And our security cooperation has been strengthened as the threats from fentanyl and illicit finance evolve. So all of this will be on the table and more.”

“We want to ensure that these achievements are preserved, that this cooperation is deepened and that we have an updated approach that accounts for today’s threats and the threats that have evolved over the course of the 15 years that Mérida has been around,” Price said.

CNN’s Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.

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