“When it comes to Merida, look, this is an initiative that has been on the books for, I think it is, 13 years now,” Price told reporters at a briefing. “We believe we are due for an updated look at our bilateral security cooperation, and we need an approach that addresses the concerns and the priorities of both governments, and this will really be one of the core elements of the discussions tomorrow.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday’s trip to Mexico for meetings the White House has described the first US-Mexico High-Level Security Dialogue.
Price said the US hopes to preserve “significant gains” from the Merida Initiative, which some Mexican officials have criticized, arguing the infusion of money led to increased violence, arms trafficking and drug consumption.
Friday’s high-level security meeting follows an economic dialogue between Biden administration officials and the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that had been suspended during the Trump administration.
“I’ve got to say that if the security dialogue matches in quality what we, we experienced with the with the economic dialogue that would be — and I fully expect it will — be very, very positive and also productive,” Blinken said Wednesday at a press conference in Paris.
Speaking of the meetings in Mexico, Blinken added that he and the other US officials “will be spending time with President Lopez Obrador, as well as with our counterparts and we’ve got a very broad reaching agenda and I think it’s evidence of the fact that the relationship — while some issues like migration, understandably get a lot of headlines — is incredibly broad and deep rooted and so I think we’ll be covering a lot of ground.”
Price said Thursday that it is not yet clear what form a new security agreement would take, but that the US wants to maintain the gains made through the Merida Initiative.
“It has enabled Mexican law enforcement agencies international accreditation at the federal and state levels, resulting in increased transparency, professionalization of institutions and respect for human rights,” Price said. “And our security cooperation has strengthened as threats from fentanyl and illicit finance have evolved. So, all of this will be on the table and more.”
“We want to see to it that those gains are preserved, that that cooperation is deepened and that we have an updated approach that accounts for the threats of today and the threats that have evolved over the course of the some 15 years that Merida has been in place,” Price said.