U.S. says fighting corruption, promoting jobs in Central America is key

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GUATEMALA CITY/SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) -Battling graft in Central America and boosting regional prosperity through humanitarian aid and jobs programs with local partners are top priorities for the United States, two senior immigration aides to U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday.

Biden on Thursday said he would not apologize for rolling back immigration policies of his Republican predecessor that undermined "human dignity" and brushed off criticism that migrants were making the journey to the southern border because they perceived him to be a "nice guy."

"The issue of corruption is endemic in Central America and all the region and it's something that fuels migration," said White House senior Latin America adviser Juan Gonzalez.

Biden has defended his handling of rising migration at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the United States was expelling the vast majority of migrants, including families, under a COVID-19 public health order.

"What happens in Central America affects the United States," said Northern Triangle envoy Ricardo Zuniga, adding there would be a focus on governance and anti-corruption efforts that promote the dignity, security, and prosperity of Central Americans in their own countries.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Nelson Renteria in San Salvador and Raul Cortes Fernanez in Mexico City; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by David Alire Garcia and Steve Orlofsky)