January 2, 2015 / 8:28 PM / 3 years ago

Security on agenda as embattled Mexican president visits Obama

3 Min Read

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto gestures during the 37th session of the public national security council in Mexico City December 19, 2014.Carlos Jasso (MEXICO - Tags: POLITICS)

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's embattled President Enrique Pena Nieto will discuss security and justice with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington next week amid public anger about how he has handled a probe into the apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers.

Pena Nieto's standing has been battered by a string of massive street protests following the abduction and likely murder of 43 students by a drug gang working with corrupt police in the southwestern city of Iguala on the night of Sept. 26.

On Monday, Pena Nieto flies to the U.S. capital to meet Obama, and their talks would touch upon areas of common concern, including Iguala, Sergio Alcocer, deputy foreign minister responsible for North America, said on Friday.

"We'll have the opportunity ... to review migration, security and justice," Alcocer told a news conference.

Mexico has so far identified the remains of one of the 43 students, but relatives of the missing youths have kept up pressure on the government with strong criticism and protests.

Alcocer stressed that the events of Iguala were just one of a number of violent incidents to affect the two nations, and pointed to recent unrest in the U.S. state of Missouri sparked by the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white cop.

Pena Nieto will also discuss education and economic competitiveness during his first official visit to the White House since taking office two years ago.

The Mexican government would like to shift focus back on to Pena Nieto's efforts to revive the economy following the controversies that have embroiled him in recent months.

After Iguala, Pena Nieto came under more fire when it emerged that he, his wife and his finance minister all bought or used houses built by a company that was part of a consortium awarded a multi-billion dollar rail contract in November.

The transport ministry canceled the rail contract abruptly on Nov. 6, but most of the damaging revelations suggesting a conflict of interest for the government emerged afterwards.

During his 24-hour visit to Washington, Pena Nieto would also thank Obama for his recent executive order that eases the deportation threat for millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, many of whom are Mexicans, Alcocer said.

Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Gabriel Stargardter and Chizu Nomiyama

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