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Mexico asks US to hasten $5.8 billion aid to Central America

LUIS ALONSO LUGO
Mexico's Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, left, speaks with reporters, Thursday, May 23, 2019, after meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the U.S. State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mexico would like the United States to speed up projects announced in December for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that involve $5.8 billion in investment, the country's foreign minister said Friday.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the funds are a good fit for a development plan for Central America's Northern Triangle that he shared with President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

"What we are saying is well, speed up those projects. That commitment has been already made," said Ebrard, referring to the December U.S aid announcement aimed at providing better security and economic conditions in Central America to allow residents to stay instead of migrating north.

A State Department spokesperson for Western Hemisphere Affairs told The Associated Press the U.S. looks forward to continued dialogue with Mexico over how support from Washington may complement recommendations of the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, or ECLAC, development plan announced on May 20.

Ebrard brought with him to Washington a plan presented earlier this week in Mexico by ECLAC which is designed to boost development in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Mexico is appealing to the international community to jointly finance the seven projects included in the plan's roadmap. Ebrard will present the plan next week in Germany.

Mexico's foreign minister described it as not a traditional plan of regional aid but a strategic decision similar to the one made in the 1990s to create a North American common market.

"Of course we don't expect (United States) to reply to us immediately because it is very complex thing that we are talking about," he said.

Since taking office Dec. 1, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has pushed the idea of developing southern Mexico together with Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as the best option for stemming the flow of migrants.

Mexico and the Central American countries have already budgeted at least $30 billion over the next five years for development projects, according to Ebrard.

The U.S. and Mexico have been discussing an arrangement under which the U.S. government would guarantee some $10 billion in development investments for Mexico and Central America, but Ebrard said there was no mention of those additional funds during his Friday meeting at the White House.

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Luis Alonso Lugo on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/luisalonsolugo