Most Mexicans say country should be closer to U.S., poll shows

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico

More Mexicans have warmed to the idea of closer ties with the United States just as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lines up his first meeting with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, a poll showed on Wednesday.

A June 30-July 1 survey of 407 people by Mexican polling firm Parametria showed that 52% of respondents said Mexico should “be closer to” the United States, significantly up from 36% two years ago, when the leftist Lopez Obrador was first elected.

Lopez Obrador is visiting the White House, days after the start of a new regional trade deal, in his first trip outside Mexico since taking office 19 months ago.

His meeting carries risks because Trump has been highly unpopular south of the border since he described Mexican migrants and rapists and drug runners during his 2015-2016 campaign for the U.S. presidency.

Pessimism over Trump that set in when he took office still pervades: the Parametria poll showed 87% of respondents held a negative view of Trump, with only 10% of the opposite opinion.

Although Lopez Obrador has tried to avoid conflict with Trump, the latter has frequently pressured Mexico over trade and migration. Trump has also repeatedly said he will stick to a campaign promise to make Mexico pay for his planned border wall.

Of the people surveyed, significantly more expected the meeting of the presidents to help the United States.

Some 78% thought it would benefit the United States, with only 49% taking that view for Mexico. Some 35% said it would harm Mexico, while just 14% said that for the United States.

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