Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures as he addresses supporters after polls closed in the presidential election, in Mexico City, Mexico July 1, 2018. (Edgard Garrido /REUTERS)

Trudeau congratulates Mexico’s newly elected president

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on his landslide victory at Sunday’s polls, saying he looks forward to working with the new administration on renegotiating a crucial free trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

“Canada and Mexico are close friends and longtime partners,” Trudeau said in a statement. “We share common goals, strong people to people ties, and a mutually beneficial trading relationship that is the envy of the world – reflected in our joint effort to update the North American Free Trade Agreement for the 21stcentury.”

The three countries have been engaged in tough renegotiation of the 1994 free trade deal prompted by President Donald Trump’s pledge to pull out of NAFTA and work towards separate bilateral trade deals with Canada and Mexico if the current accord cannot be renegotiated to the U.S. president’s liking.

The morning after his crushing election victory, Lopez Obrador thanked Trump for his congratulation message and said he’ll contact the U.S. leader to “reach an understanding.”

Lopez Obrador said in an interview Monday with the Televisa news network that Trump’s Tweet Sunday night “was very respectful. That is what we always want to maintain with the U.S. government, that there be mutual respect.”

Trump tweeted Sunday that “I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!”

Lopez Obrador said he supports reaching a deal on renegotiating NAFTA. The talks have been stalled over the Trump administration demands for higher U.S. content and a “sunset clause”.

The 64-year-old former mayor of Mexico City said he wants to make Mexico more economically independent of the U.S. while also persuading Trump to help develop the region in order to contain illegal migration.

With files from The Associated Press

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