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article imageTop US officials to meet Mexico president-elect in modest house

By AFP     Jul 10, 2018 in World

Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday he will meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other top US officials this week in his offices, located in a modest house with little security.

The anti-establishment leftist, who won a landslide election victory on July 1, said he would meet in his transition team's headquarters on Friday with Pompeo, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and top presidential adviser Jared Kushner during their visit to Mexico.

"We thank President Donald Trump for his respectful attitude and interest in achieving an understanding between the peoples and governments of Mexico and the United States," Lopez Obrador told a press conference in the front courtyard of the large, aging Mexico City house where he has his offices.

The politician known as "AMLO," who takes office on December 1, acknowledged the house was an unusual venue to welcome high-level dignitaries.

"My office is right here behind us. It's not very big because the next government doesn't want ostentatious offices. We're going to put an end to the paraphernalia of power. It's going to be a simple government," said Lopez Obrador, who has also vowed not to use the presidential residence or jet and wants to halve his own salary.

Lopez Obrador's pick for foreign minister, former Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard, said the transition team would be responsible for security inside the house during the meeting.

They are in talks with the Mexican and US security services on the broader security preparations, he added.

Lopez Obrador has raised eyebrows for foregoing bodyguards. He uses minimal security at his offices in the capital's trendy Roma neighborhood, and admirers have routinely approached him to offer hugs and congratulations or ask for his help.

Lopez Obrador said his future finance, economy and security ministers would also attend the meeting, as well as his choice to lead the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Pompeo will also meet separately with outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto during the one-day visit.

US-Mexican relations have been strained by Trump's anti-trade, anti-immigration policies.

But despite their ideological differences, Lopez Obrador and Trump have both appeared keen to start their relationship off on the right foot.

The Republican president said they had a "great" first phone call after the election, and the president-elect -- who promised on the campaign trail to "put (Trump) in his place" -- has repeatedly said the tone has been "respectful."

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