U.S. vice president to speak with Mexican president on tree-planting proposal

·1-min read
Central Americans work in the "Sowing Life" government program, in Tapachula

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will speak with Mexico's president on May 7 about his proposal to expand a tree-planting program to Central America as way to reduce poverty and migration, Mexico's foreign minister said on Saturday.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has suggested the U.S. government offer temporary work visas and eventually citizenship to those who take part in the tree-planting program, called "Sembrando Vida," or "Sowing Life."

Harris' senior advisor and chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, confirmed next month's virtual meeting between the U.S. vice president and Obrador.

"This meeting will deepen the partnership between our countries to achieve the common goals of prosperity, good governance, and addressing the root causes of migration," Sanders said in a statement.

The program aims to create 1.2 million jobs and plant 3 billion additional trees through expansion into southeastern Mexico and Central America, Lopez Obrador said at a White House virtual climate summit last week.

He also said U.S. President Joe Biden "could finance" the program's extension to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said in a Tweet that he and Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier would participate in the May 7 meeting, which is also slated to touch on cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden tapped Harris last month to lead diplomatic efforts to cut immigration from Mexico and Central America.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani in Washington; editing by Diane Craft and Marguerita Choy)