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Trump may delay Mexico tariffs if talks progress, aide says
[WASHINGTON] The US plans to issue notice today to pave the way for tariffs on Mexico to take effect Monday, but President Donald Trump could decide over the weekend to delay the move as talks continue over a surge in illegal migration, a top White House aide said.
Negotiators from the two countries will resume talks in Washington on Friday aimed at reaching a deal, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, said. The Trump administration is moving forward with plans to enact a 5 per cent tariff on Mexican imports, but the president could change course if talks go well, Mr Short said.
Despite progress so far, "there's a long way to go still, that's the bottom line. And so the legal teams are talking today, and we'll see how that progresses," Mr Short told reporters at the White House.
The notice for the tariffs is expected to be published Friday, he said. "But I think that there is the ability, if negotiations continue to go well, that the president can turn that off at some point over the weekend."
Mr Trump is returning on Friday from a week-long trip to the UK, France and Ireland. Mexican officials have sought a delay for the tariffs in order to have more time to negotiate a response to the migration surge, but the US has made clear that the final decision is up to Mr Trump.
As of now, "we're moving forward with the tariffs and they will go into effect Monday," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Friday on Air Force One before departing Ireland.
Meetings have gone well and progress has been made, Ms Sanders said. Mr Trump is getting regular updates from Mr Pence, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, she said.
Mr Short said that Mexico arrived at meetings on Wednesday with proposals that were "wholly insufficient." Then, on Thursday, Mexico showed openness to some US proposals and the administration was "more encouraged," Mr Short said. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is leading talks Friday, Mr Short said in a separate interview with Fox News.
More than 144,000 people were apprehended after illegally crossing the southern border in May or were refused entry to the US. That's the most in a single month in at least five years; the number has grown every month since January.
In one proposal, Mexico would deploy 6,000 national guard troops to its own southern border region to discourage migrants from crossing into the country from Guatemala, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Thursday.
Mr Trump, in an interview that aired Thursday night with Fox News, criticised Republicans who have spoken out against his tariff threat against a top trading partner. Last year, the US negotiated a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada that still requires lawmakers' approval.
"They're hurting a deal. They should be saying, we're with the president, we'll do whatever he wants to do, and Mexico would fold like an umbrella," Mr Trump said.