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Ties between Russia and Mexico appear to tighten

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President elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador meets with relatives of missing students from Ayotzinapa at the Memoria y Tolerancia Museum on Sept. 26, 2018 in Mexico City. Photo: Getty

Major investment from Moscow in the Mayan Riviera and other areas was offered during a meeting between Mexico’s president elect and Russian ambassador, according to media reports.

The meeting follows a promised cancellation of a one-third built airport in Mexico City and promises of an extensive train service on the Yucatán Peninsula, which will require private investment.

The meeting, at the presidential transition team headquarters, was also attended by the incoming Mexican foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard. Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration takes office on Dec. 1.

Mexico and Russia will strengthen their economic relations under López Obrador, who invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to his inauguration, said Russian-owned news agency Sputnik.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and López Obrador may meet face to face later this year, according to El Universal, citing Russian news agency Tass.

The Russian leader is expected to attend the G20 Summit in Argentina, which overlaps with López Obrador’s inauguration.

The delegations also discussed “the resumption of the function of the Joint Commission mechanism for economic, commercial, scientific and technical cooperation, and maritime navigation, and discussed the strengthening of Russia’s economic presence in Mexico,” said Russian embassy spokesman Eugeniо Nenashkin.

On Tuesday, an adviser to the Russian president on international affairs, Yuri Ushakov, did not rule out a meeting between Putin and López Obrador, either at the G20 summit or during a visit by the Russian leader to Mexico.

“There are options to consider: a flight to Mexico or a meeting in Argentina,” said the Russian presidential adviser.

At the meeting, other aspects of bilateral relations were addressed, such as the abolition of visa requirements for Russian tourists in Mexico and vice-versa.

The parties will also discuss matters of commercial interest and efforts to increase the flow of Russian visitors to Mexican tourist areas, such as the Mayan Riviera.

The future foreign minister explained that the Mexican president-elect and Ambassador Viktor Koronelli “talked about the interest in the growing flow of Russian tourists to Mexico, especially in recent years.”

Ambassador Koronelli will soon visit Monterrey where Russia’s forthcoming investments will benefit the auto sector, Ebrard’s office said in a statement on the meeting.

Commercial exchange between Mexico and Russia increased to US$2 billion annually in 2016, and the governments of both countries seek to double that figure, according to statements from each country’s embassies.

Russian oil company Lukoil has won several contracts for exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico, in the tenders that began in the summer of 2015 after the opening of that sector to foreign and private investments.

Mexican airline Interjet is the largest foreign customer for Russian-built Sukhoi Superjet 100s.

In December 2017, the U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster claimed that there had been “initial signs” of Russian meddling in Mexico’s election process.

With information from Nación Unida, The Guardian, Reuters

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