U.S., Mexico officials speak ahead of meeting on drugs, arms trafficking
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Senior Mexican and U.S. officials have spoken with each other ahead of a meeting in April on tackling drugs and weapons trafficking, the two governments said on Tuesday, as Mexico said it was not a production hub for synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Officials are set to meet in Washington to discuss the so-called Bicentennial Framework, which will address production of synthetic drugs, particularly fentanyl, and weapons smuggling.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard had a phone conversation on Monday, the State Department said, with Blinken expressing a U.S. commitment to "protecting (both) communities from criminal networks."
Mexico's foreign ministry said on Monday evening security officials had "no record" of fentanyl production in Mexico and that the drug and its ingredients largely came from Asia.
In February, the Mexican Army reported its largest synthetic drug lab bust, nabbing half-a-million fentanyl pills in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.
Tensions over security rose this month, after a group of Americans were kidnapped in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. Two were killed in an attack officials have linked to a drug gang.
Blinken and Ebrard discussed the kidnapping, the State Department said.
Some U.S. Republican lawmakers have called for military intervention in Mexico to fight cartels, a step Mexico has rejected.
Later on Tuesday, a spokesperson from the U.S. National Security Council said President Joe Biden's administration is not considering military action in Mexico.
"We have robust law enforcement cooperation with Mexico, which has enabled us to take successful action against cartels, transnational criminal organizations, drug traffickers and human smugglers, and that will continue," the spokesperson said.
(Reporting by Kylie Madry; editing by Grant McCool and David Gregorio)