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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets counterparts from Mexico, Canada over trade

Canada, Mexico and the United States are members of the NAFTA free trade bloc, which Trump has branded a "catastrophe" for American jobs and has threatened to renegotiate.

Rex Tillerson, Tillerson, US Secretary of State, Tillerson meeting, Canada and Mexico meeting, Donald Trump, Trump trade policy, Trump NAFTA, NAFTA, world news, latest news, indian express US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (File Photo)

Washington’s new top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has met his Canadian and Mexican opposite numbers amid concerns over President Donald Trump’s trade policy. Canada, Mexico and the United States are members of the NAFTA free trade bloc, which Trump has branded a “catastrophe” for American jobs and has threatened to renegotiate. The new US leader has also insisted that Mexico will in some way pay for the anti-immigration wall he plans to build on America’s southern frontier — perhaps through an import tariff.

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The continental neighbours were so close that in recent years summits between them were dubbed the “Tres Amigos” –and maintaining strong ties will be a key task for Tillerson.

But Mexico, in particular, has been offended by talk of paying for the wall, and Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland made it clear that Ottawa does not favour tariffs either.

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“Canada would respond appropriately,” she warned, at a news conference after her meeting in the State Department.

“We do not know what the position of the United States will be when it comes to the notion of tariffs.”

Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray has previously echoed the view of his president, Enrique Pena Nieto, that Mexico will never pay for the wall, and described this as “non-negotiable.”

His visit was not announced on the US secretary’s public schedule and the pair did not allow reporters into their meeting, but he spoke briefly to Spanish-speaking reporters as he left.

“It was a good first meeting,” he said.

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“We agreed that we will have frequent meetings and that the next meeting will be in Mexico. So Secretary Tillerson will be travelling in the coming weeks to Mexico,” he added.

The State Department said it has no travel plans to announce and US officials were not able to give their own account of how the meetings with the Canadian and Mexican officials had gone.

First published on: 09-02-2017 at 09:18:47 am
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