UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – US Vice President Mike Bens held a brief bilateral meeting with Mexico and Canada on Saturday on the latest developments in the negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), expressing optimism that a deal could be reached.
The talks were on the sidelines of the two-nation summit in Peru.
US-Mexican relations have deteriorated in recent weeks as US President Donald Trump sought to link the talks with Mexico’s efforts to stem the flow of illegal immigrants to the United States and send the National Guard troops to the border.
The US Vice President met first with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then President Enrique Benia Nieto of Mexico.
“We are neighbors, we are dear friends,” Bens said after meeting Trudeau.
“We think we are just around the corner from a new NAFTA agreement. We are encouraged by the progress of our negotiations and we hope that we will end successfully.”
“I am looking forward to a discussion not only about NAFTA but on a wide range of issues,” Pines said.
For his part, the Mexican president stressed the need to talk about “the bilateral relationship we want based on cooperation and mutual respect.”
The two men were silent in response to questions about the border wall that Trump wants to build on the border with Mexico or whether Nieto still refuses to pay for the controversial wall.
Mexico hopes to reach an agreement on NAFTA by next month.
Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Trump and his closest aide, has been involved in several foreign and international policy issues at the meetings with Trudeau and Nieto, aides said.