Mexico’s new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador spoke by telephone with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday and discussed the issue of migration, he said in a tweet.
The two leaders discussed the possibility of creating a joint program for development and job creation in Central America and Mexico, Lopez Obrador said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Thousands of migrants are living in crowded shelters and encampments in Tijuana after traveling from Central America to escape poverty and violence. They may have to wait weeks or months to claim asylum at the U.S. border.
Illegal immigration was a central theme of Trump’s presidential bid, and he repeatedly invoked the issue ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections and deployed some 5,800 U.S. troops to the border.
Trump has reiterated his campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, even after Mexico repeatedly rejected his demand that it pay for the multibillion-dollar project.
Funding for the border wall has been a sticking point in spending bills before the U.S. Congress, and Trump clashed with leading Democrats over the issue during an Oval Office meeting on Tuesday.
Lopez Obrador has pledged to discourage migration through economic development, and wants the United States to contribute to a plan focused on Mexico’s poorer south and Central America.
Shortly after Lopez Obrador took office on Dec. 1, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard to discuss border issues.
Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Additional reporting by Eric Beech in Washington; Writing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Sandra Maler