Mexican president softens tone on trade dispute as Blinken visits

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MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday softened his stance on a dispute with the United States over his energy policy, saying Washington had adopted a more conciliatory attitude toward his government’s position.

He spoke on the same day senior U.S. officials led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken were due to hold economic cooperation talks with Mexican officials in Mexico City.

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In July, the U.S. Trade Representative demanded dispute settlement talks with Mexico, arguing Lopez Obrador’s drive to tighten state control of the energy market was unfair to its companies and likely in breach of a regional trade deal.

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Lopez Obrador, who has cast his energy policy as a matter of national sovereignty, at the time responded defiantly, saying he would defend Mexico’s position at an independence day military parade taking place this coming Friday.

However, on Monday he said he would no longer refer to the energy dispute during his Friday speech because U.S. President Joe Biden had responded to his concerns positively.

“There’s a different tone. There’s a respectful attitude. Rather, it’s a reaffirmation of respect for our national sovereignty,” Lopez Obrador told a regular news conference, referring to a letter he said had received from Biden.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said last week the energy dispute was not on the agenda for what is called the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue. Blinken was due to meet Lopez Obrador during his visit. (Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Howard Goller)

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