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World News

President Lopez Obrador urges review of U.S. drug cooperation in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday his government would review cooperation over drug policy with the United States and how its agencies operate in Mexico after the recent U.S. arrest of a top military official.

FILE PHOTO: Mexico's then Defense Minister General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda attends a flag-raising ceremony honoring the victims of the September 1985 and 2017 earthquakes at Zocalo square in Mexico City, Mexico September 19, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril/File Photo

Lopez Obrador’s comments follow the Oct. 15 arrest of former Mexican army chief Salvador Cienfuegos in Los Angeles on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering on a warrant issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

“We have to review all of this: how these arrest warrants are issued, who is intervening, what agreements there are with U.S. agents who operate in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference.

The DEA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. embassy spokeswoman Adrienne Bory said in a statement to Reuters in the Mexican capital that the United States “values its close relationship with Mexico on our shared security challenges.”

“We look forward to continuing our deep and productive relationship — and many future successes,” the statement said.

Lopez Obrador has criticized the DEA’s historic role in his country, and last week Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard expressed dismay at the U.S. failure to tell Mexico it was going to arrest Cienfuegos.

“We have to be grateful, and I have said this before, that President (Donald) Trump has been respectful (toward Mexico),” Lopez Obrador said.

“But there are still issues we want to clarify. We’re only waiting for the elections to pass,” he said of Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election in which Trump is seeking a second term.

Lopez Obrador has held up the case of Cienfuegos, who is being held without bail, as an example of rampant corruption in past governments. But he characterized the case as an “isolated” event and defended the army’s role in Mexico.

Cienfuegos was head of the army from 2012 to 2018.

Reporting by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Tom Brown

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