Tillerson Visits Argentina to Talk Conservation, Economics

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Latin American tour took him Saturday to Argentina, where he talked with officials about conservation and diplomacy.

Traveling from Mexico City after meeting with the Mexican president and other senior officials on Friday, Tillerson arrived in Bariloche, a lakeside resort town in Argentina’s Nahuel Huapi National Park.

Local news reports said Tillerson met with park rangers to discuss progress made in joint U.S.-Argentine projects on science and conservation issues. He also met with a student selected for the U.S. Fulbright scholarship program.

Tillerson was scheduled to visit the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, to meet with his counterpart, Jorge Faurie.

On Monday, Tillerson is set to meet with Argentina President Mauricio Macri to discuss regional issues, including upcoming elections and the political crisis in Venezuela.

Before his visit, Tillerson told reporters that he hoped other countries would follow Argentina’s lead on making economic reforms and generating growth.

On Friday in Mexico, Tillerson said that immigrants bring “enormous value” to the U.S., but added the U.S. government lacked “good discipline” in regulating who enters the country to live.

‘Out of normal order’

After meeting in Mexico City with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, Tillerson told reporters the U.S. had put “many mechanisms in place” over the years to control immigration, but had “never gone back to clean this up.”

“Let’s make sure we have systems in place where we understand who’s coming into the country,” Tillerson said. He said immigration in the U.S. had “gotten out of normal order,” which is why President Donald Trump is pushing Congress to “fix these defects that have risen over the years.”

The Mexican government has repeatedly expressed opposition to Trump’s proposals to curb illegal immigration and have Mexico pay for a reinforced border wall.

Differences over the issue did not preclude Videgaray from praising the U.S. He said the Mexican government’s relationship with the Trump administration was “closer” than it was under former President Barack Obama’s administration. Videgaray acknowledged the two countries “do have some differences” but said “we are working closely and we are about results.”

Tillerson later held a closed-door meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto during a time when relations have also been strained by U.S. threats to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

NAFTA, which Trump alleges costs American jobs, was discussed at the trilateral meeting, along with energy development and drug interdiction.

Tillerson’s travels through Latin America will also take him to Peru and Colombia, with a final stop in Jamaica on February 7.

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