Biden tries to reset relationship with Mexican president

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President Joe Biden, accompanied by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, left, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, second from left, attends a virtual meeting with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Monday, March 1, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WILMINGTON, Del. – As President Joe Biden looks to dismantle the last administration’s hardline immigration agenda, he worked Monday to build a partnership with someone who found an unexpected understanding with Donald Trump: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Biden and López Obrador met for a virtual bilateral meeting, with immigration, the coronavirus pandemic and climate issues on the agenda. Looming large was how the two leaders would get along in what has become an increasingly complicated relationship.

“We haven’t been perfect neighbors to each other,” Biden acknowledged in brief remarks at the start of his video conference meeting with the Mexican president.

López Obrador, for his part, told Biden that he was thankful that the new president was “willing to maintain good relations for the good of our people in North America.”

The Mexican president also gave a wink to a rueful observation attributed to José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori, the Mexican general who served seven terms as the country’s president, about the two countries’ relationship: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the U.S.”

“I can now say ‘It’s wonderful for Mexico to be close to God and not so far from the United States’” López Obrador said.

Lopez Obrador came to the meeting with his own checklist of priorities, including pressing Biden to give pharmaceutical company Pfizer permission to sell his country vaccine produced in the United States, something that Canada has also requested from the White House.

“We want to have an answer about a request we made,” Lopez Obrador told reporters at his daily news conference, hours before speaking with Biden.