June 3, 2019 / 6:59 PM / 3 months ago

Mexico sees 'better conditions' to tackle migration with next Guatemala leader

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday he hoped scope for cooperation with Guatemala on containing migrant flows from Central America to the United States would improve after the election of the country’s next leader.

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, May 31, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Mexico faces the risk of a severe economic shock due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s anger over a surge in migrants trying to enter the United States from Mexico. Most of the migrants are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Guatemala holds presidential elections on June 16 to pick a replacement for conservative incumbent Jimmy Morales.

Polls suggest that none of the candidates in the race will secure enough votes to win outright, which would mean the top two contenders face off in a second around on Aug. 11.

Trump said last week that he will impose tariffs on all Mexican imports from June 10 if Mexico did not halt the flow of migrants reaching the U.S. border.. Mexican senior officials are meeting in Washington this week to discuss the tariff plan.

Lopez Obrador said his government was in permanent contact with Central American governments when asked during a news conference what conversations he was having with leaders from the region to address the problem.

“In Guatemala there will be elections soon ... and this gives us hope that better conditions will arise,” he said.

Trump wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to halt illegal immigration. By contrast, Lopez Obrador has argued the two sides must work together to address the violence, poverty and lack of opportunities that has fueled the exodus of people.

Last week, the Morales government signed an agreement with the United States aimed at containing migration. Under it, U.S. officials are due to train their Guatemalan counterparts and step up security on the Guatemala-Mexico border.

The next Guatemalan president takes office in January 2020.

Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Alistair Bell

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