Biden to meet with Mexico’s President in San Francisco

November 17, 2023

President Biden was set to meet Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in San Francisco on Friday, where the two leaders were expected to talk about migration, fentanyl trafficking and Cuba.  

Biden has been in San Francisco for the past three days, where he’s been joining other world leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week conference.

On Wednesday he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping just outside the city, where the pair struck a deal to curb fentanyl production and to reopen military communications channels between the U.S. and China.

While in California Biden has also been meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea.

Biden’s relationship with López Obrador is tense at times, in part due to the U.S. President’s willingness to criticize Mexico on fentanyl production. And the Mexican President snubbed Biden last year by skipping a summit in Los Angeles. 

But López Obrador and his government have taken steps to curb the trafficking of fentanyl from Mexico to the United States. In April members of his security cabinet traveled to the U.S. to discuss with American officials efforts to obstruct the illegal northward flow of the drug.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC further states that most recent cases of fentanyl-related overdose are linked to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which is distributed through illegal drug markets, and it is often added to other drugs, making those drugs “cheaper, more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous.”

López Obrador has repeatedly asserted that no fentanyl is being synthesized inside Mexico, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has disputed those claims, noting that some 14,000 pounds of fentanyl were seized at the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2022—nearly all at legal points of entry.

At Friday’s meeting, Biden is also expected to bring up migration amid a growing number of crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The migration issue is linked to the fentanyl issue. Human smuggling across the border is a part of cartel operations that also include drug trafficking.

López Obrador has also said he plans to use Friday’s meeting to take up the case for the Biden Administration to resume a dialogue with Cuba and end U.S. sanctions against the island nation, less than 500 miles off the coast of Florida. 

Biden López Obrador and were scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting at 1pm ET.

PHOTO: Biden and Mexico President López Obrador in January

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