U.S., Mexico at odds over deportation, border wall as officials meet

Senior Mexican officials on Thursday expressed "worry and irritation" about U.S. policies during a visit by two of President Donald Trump's top envoys, who in turn sought to cool tempers after weeks of tension between the neighbours.

Tillerson, Kelly in Mexico City amid mounting cross-border tensions

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, shakes hands with Mexico's Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray after delivering statements in Mexico City, Thursday. (Carlos Barri/Reuters)

Senior Mexican officials on Thursday expressed "worry and irritation" about U.S. policies during a visit by two of President Donald Trump's top envoys, who in turn sought to cool tempers after weeks of tension between the neighbours.

"There exists among Mexicans worry and irritation about what are perceived to be policies that could be harmful for the 
national interest and for Mexicans here and abroad," Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray told a news conference.

He was speaking after talks in the Mexican capital with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security chief John Kelly. 

Standing beside the U.S. visitors, Videgaray said it is "a complex time" for U.S.-Mexican relations, which have gone downhill quickly since Trump was elected U.S. president in November. 

The U.S. government this week angered Mexico by saying it was seeking to deport many illegal immigrants to Mexico if they entered the United States from there, regardless of their nationality.

The immigration guidelines are the latest point of tension between neighbours that have also been at odds over Trump's vow to build a wall on the border and his attempts to browbeat Mexico into giving concessions on trade. 

Videgaray and President Enrique Pena Nieto have been criticized at home for being too willing to engage with Trump, 
who has repeatedly cranked up tension with the country ahead of key meetings. 

A woman holds a sign that reads in Spanish 'Trump, respect migrants' during a march in Mexico City, on Jan. 20. (Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press)

'No use of military force'

Both sides on Thursday pledged further dialogue on migration, trade and security issues facing both nations. Kelly and Tillerson were much more measured in their words than either the Mexicans or Trump, who on Thursday said a "military operation" was being carried out to clear "bad dudes" from the United States. 

The comments prompted a clarification from Kelly, who said there would be "no use of military force in immigration operations," and "no — repeat, no" mass deportations.

None of the officials made direct references to the deportation of immigrants from third countries to Mexico, or to paying for the border wall planned by Trump, a red-flag issue for Mexico.     

Earlier in the day, Videgaray said Mexico had no intention of complying with Trump's executive orders. 

"I want to say clearly and most emphatically that the Mexican government and the Mexican people have no reason to accept unilateral decisions imposed by one government on another," Videgaray said. "We are not going to accept that, because we don't have to."

The Americans met with Videgaray before a working lunch with Mexican officials and a formal meeting with the president, Pena Nieto.

Trump's insistence that Mexico pay billions for a border wall led Pena Nieto to cancel a planned Washington visit. Mexican officials are also apprehensive over Trump's pledge to overhaul the trade relationship and possible apply steep taxes to Mexican products, a move with profound impacts for Mexico's export-heavy economy.

With files from The Associated Press