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Mexican president pressures Canadian miner in simmering tax dispute

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MEXICO CITY, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Mexican President AndresManuel Lopez Obrador on Monday urged a Canadian mining companyin the country to pay outstanding taxes, saying it was hidingbehind the threat of international litigation to shirk itsobligations.

Questioned at a news conference about the tax burden onmining firms in Mexico, Lopez Obrador said there were Canadiancompanies that met all their fiscal obligations.

"However, this other company does not," Lopez Obrador said,describing the miner as operating in Tayoltita in the northernstate of Durango, without disclosing its name.

He appeared to be referring to First Majestic Silver Corp, which operates the San Dimas silver and gold mine inTayoltita, one of its three working mines in Mexico.

Reuters reported this month that the government planned toseek 11 billion pesos ($534 million) from First Majestic indelinquent taxes.

First Majestic declined to comment on Lopez Obrador'sremarks.

The company said previously it would pursue all legaloptions, including under international law, if it could notreach an agreement with tax authorities.

Lopez Obrador said the company was attempting to useinternational tribunals to protect itself.

"It has to pay taxes and it doesn't want to pay taxes," hesaid, adding he hoped the Canadian Embassy would take note ofwhat he was saying. "Hopefully the ambassador ... urges them tocome to their senses, because this cannot be permitted."

A spokeswoman for the embassy said it could not comment onmatters involving private companies but that the ambassador wasaware of the issue.

Lopez Obrador previously called on the Canadian miningsector to bring itself up to date on taxes amid a governmentpush to boost corporate tax collection.(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon;Additional reporting by Dave Graham in Mexico City and JeffLewis in Toronto; Editing by Peter Cooney)