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Kushner, Mexican president talk migration and trade

media Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, picture here March 11, 2019 during his daily morning press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City on March 11, 2019 AFP

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday he met with Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, for talks on migration and trade.

Lopez Obrador, who wants the United States to fund $10 billion in economic development programs aimed at curbing migration from Mexico and Central America, said he had discussed the idea with Kushner during a "respectful" dinner meeting Tuesday night.

The leftist leader said the talks also focused on the new trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada, which was signed last year and must now clear all three countries' legislatures.

Lopez Obrador has maintained a cordial relationship with Trump since taking office in December, despite their ideological differences and the Republican president's continued insistence on building a wall on the two countries' border.

"We're not going to get into fights. We're for resolving conflicts peacefully and cooperating on development," Lopez Obrador told a press conference.

In response to Trump's attacks on Mexican and Central American immigrants, Lopez Obrador is proposing the US fund $5 billion in development projects in Mexico and $5 billion in Central America to fight poverty and violent crime in the region, the main drivers of migration.

"We're reaching agreements toward the possible signing of a deal," he said.

"We made progress, we discussed the matter in a friendly way."

He added that he planned to visit the United States once there was a "specific agreement, with investment projects and employment."

"The money is not what's important," he said.

"What matters is that it's investment that will create jobs so people don't have to abandon their communities and their families."

He said he and Kushner had also "reaffirmed our commitment" to passing the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the updated version of the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the three countries renegotiated at Trump's behest.

The Canadian and Mexican governments are pushing the United States to exempt them from steel and aluminum tariffs it imposed last year before their legislatures open debate on the new trade deal.

"The United States is willing to review" the matter, Lopez Obrador said.

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