GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemala’s new president discussed with Trump administration officials how to slow illegal immigration and improve border security in a meeting before he was due to take office on Tuesday, as Washington pushes him accept an asylum agreement.
A conservative former surgeon and ex-prison chief, Alejandro Giammattei, 63, ran for top office three times before his victory in an August runoff on a tough-on-crime platform that included returning the death penalty.
Peace - Country - Reporters - Monday - Nation
“We will bring back the peace this country so dearly needs,” he told reporters on Monday, promising to overhaul the Central American nation’s security forces and restructure ministries.
But at the top of his to-do list will be a decision on whether to roll back or expand an agreement with the United States forged by outgoing President Jimmy Morales that makes Guatemala a buffer zone to reduce U.S. asylum claims.
US - Homeland - Security - Secretary - Chad
Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, part of the U.S. delegation headed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for the inauguration, was expected to push Giammattei to expand the agreement to include Mexicans.
In a sign of the urgency of the relationship, Giammattei met Wolf and Ross in his first bilateral meeting on Tuesday morning, hours before he was due to be sworn in. The U.S. embassy tweeted that Wolf talked with him about containing illegal immigration and improving border security.
Giammattei - Tweet - Ross - Investment - Growth
Giammattei said in a tweet that he and Ross discussed investment and economic growth to stem immigration.
Neither side has revealed additional details. Giammattei later met Colombian President Ivan Duque.
Guatemala - Latin - America - Nations - Poverty
Guatemala is one of Latin America’s poorest and most unequal nations, with poverty increasing since 2000 despite strong economic growth rates, according to the World Bank. U.S. officials have previously threatened it with economic consequences if it fails to accept the Asylum Cooperation Agreement.
Giammattei, who had previously suggested he would seek to change...
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