Mexico’s top diplomat was in Washington last week for meetings with the U.S. government, sidestepping the normal channels and heading straight for the White House. Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray met at the White House with President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, along with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn, a top financial aid, the Mexican government announced.
Striking in its absence from that announcement was any mention of a meeting with officials from the State Department. It is customary for all foreign secretaries to be received by their US counterpart when in Washington, currently Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
But when asked whether any sessions were scheduled at the State Department, the spokesman, Mark Toner, said he didn’t know Videgaray was in town. That disconnect suggested the State Department, under Trump, was being marginalized.
Later, however, Videgaray himself explained that he had spoken by telephone to Tillerson the night before to let him know he was arriving in Washington.
But Videgaray said the thrust of his mission meant he needed to speak directly to the White House. He and Tillerson agreed to meet in person in a couple of weeks, Videgaray said, part of an ongoing “dialogue” the two governments are holding to attempt to repair relations damaged by Trump’s bombastic campaign rhetoric against Mexico.
At the meetings, Videgaray said, he had to raise Mexican complaints about U.S. suggestions it would separate migrant children from their parents at the border as a way to discourage illegal crossings.
“Family integrity,” Videgaray said during a briefing at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, “is a basic human right.” He said his U.S. interlocutors said the separation plan was only “under consideration.”
Tillerson and Videgaray met two weeks ago in Mexico City, along with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and his Mexican counterpart, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong.