Vice President Harris and Guatemala’s President Arevalo discuss immigration at White House meeting, according to Reuters.

Vice President Harris and Guatemala’s President Arevalo discuss immigration at White House meeting, according to Reuters.

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: US Vice President Kamala Harris pays tribute to victims of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting at the campus memorial after meeting with their families in Parkland, Florida, US, on 23 March 2024.

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By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris received Guatemalan President Bernardo Arevalo at the White House on Monday to strengthen his new government and discuss how to reduce immigration from Central America.

Harris’ meeting underscores U.S. support for the new reform president, whose inauguration was delayed in January by opponents seeking to weaken his authority.

At the start of their meeting, Harris said the United States “was proud to stand with you, Mr. President, following free and fair elections and throughout your transition,” adding that “the will of the Guatemalan people, according to our observations, has triumphed.”

Immigration has become a hot topic in President Joe Biden and Harris’ 2024 re-election campaign, with Republicans accusing the administration of mishandling the increase in new immigrants crossing the U.S. border.

The White House is accusing Republicans, led by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, of torpedoing a bipartisan bill that would have strengthened border control.

Republicans called Harris a failed ‘border czar’ after Biden accused her of leading efforts to address the causes of migration from Central American countries that have contributed to the surge in flows of immigrants.

Harris and Arevalo discussed how the United States can support Guatemala’s fight against corruption, strengthen human rights and boost the economy.

“I consider this a historic moment in the relations between our two countries, which share fundamental values ​​and common interests and face many common challenges,” Arevalo said during their meeting.

They discussed Arevalo’s work with indigenous peoples and prioritizing efforts to reduce what the official called “irregular migration” to the United States.

Harris announced $1 billion in new financial commitments from companies part of a public-private partnership program to invest in Central America, bringing the total to more than $5.2 billion since May 2021. They include a commitment by Meta (NASDAQ:) to train young people and small business owners in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

She also “welcomed Guatemala’s support for other democracies around the world,” the White House said in a statement about the meeting, without providing details.

Guatemala is one of the few countries to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a self-governing island claimed by China.

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