US and Mexico set to negotiate updated bilateral security arrangement to address concerns on both sides

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

The new settlement will replace or presumably exchange the $3 billion Merida Initiative, a 2008 pact meant to battle drug trafficking and arranged crime.

“When it comes to Merida, look, this is an initiative that has been on the books for, I think it is, 13 years now,” State Department spokesman Ned Price informed reporters at a briefing Thursday. “We believe we are due for an updated look at our bilateral security cooperation, and we need an approach that addresses the concerns and the priorities of both governments, and this will really be one of the core elements of the discussions tomorrow.”

Blinken will lead the delegation and meet with Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the official stated.

‘Balanced and sustainable’

The White House has described Friday’s conferences as the primary US-Mexico High-Level Security Dialogue.

A second senior administration official stated the brand new strategy to safety will likely be “balanced and sustainable,” and look not simply at safety challenges however the components that create them.

The officers wouldn’t deal with operational priorities, however the second official stated that Mayorkas was dedicated to a “humane approach to migration management” and a 3rd senior administration official stated work to pursue drug cartels would proceed.

The framework may also deal with the stream of weapons from the US into Mexico, an space of deep concern and frustration to Mexican officers.

The new settlement 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 into Mexico,” the third official stated. “That does require a collaborative effort. It requires work together on tracing firearms, on thinking through strategies to go after, that is, to investigate and prosecute traffickers and to see that they are held accountable on both sides of the border. I’m happy to say that’s work that’s already well underway.”

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This third official stated that the brand new settlement “will allow us to learn from each other’s prevention strategies, and it will also allow us to set enforcement priorities together, including with respect to trafficking and firearms, to illegal narcotics, to human trafficking and smuggling, to extraditions of criminals, and to money laundering and illicit finance. In both respects then, both in attacking crime, in attacking causes of crime, the framework marks a new beginning, a new beginning that will make the citizens of both countries safer,” the third administration official stated.

The officers wouldn’t touch upon whether or not a dispute over visas for US Drug Enforcement Agency officers could be mentioned.

They additionally declined to say how a lot funding would go into the brand new settlement, saying that they need the “needs and details” of the work to drive the numbers and sources which can be wanted.

Price stated the US hopes to protect “significant gains” from the Merida Initiative, which some Mexican officers have criticized, arguing the infusion of cash led to elevated violence, arms trafficking and drug consumption.

‘Very constructive’

Friday’s high-level safety assembly follows an financial dialogue between Biden administration officers and Mexican counterparts that had been suspended in the course of the Trump administration.

“I’ve got to say that if the security dialogue matches in quality what we, we experienced with the with the economic dialogue that would be — and I fully expect it will — be very, very positive and also productive,” Blinken stated Wednesday at a press convention in Paris.

Speaking of the conferences in Mexico, Blinken added that he and the opposite US officers “will be spending time with President Lopez Obrador, as well as with our counterparts and we’ve got a very broad reaching agenda and I think it’s evidence of the fact that the relationship — while some issues like migration, understandably get a lot of headlines — is incredibly broad and deep rooted and so I think we’ll be covering a lot of ground.”

Price stated Thursday that it isn’t but clear what type a brand new safety settlement would take, however that the US needs to take care of the beneficial properties made by the Merida Initiative.

“It has enabled Mexican law enforcement agencies international accreditation at the federal and state levels, resulting in increased transparency, professionalization of institutions and respect for human rights,” Price stated. “And our security cooperation has strengthened as threats from fentanyl and illicit finance have evolved. So, all of this will be on the table and more.”

“We want to see to it that those gains are preserved, that that cooperation is deepened and that we have an updated approach that accounts for the threats of today and the threats that have evolved over the course of the some 15 years that Merida has been in place,” Price stated.

This story has been up to date with further reporting Thursday.

CNN’s Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.

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