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For 1st Time Ever, An Israeli Prime Minister Visits Mexico

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Enrique Peña Nieto
Mexican Presidential Office
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) in a visit to Mexican counterpart President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Mexico this week — the first-ever such visit.

Netanyahu and his counterpart President Enrique Peña Nieto agreed to renew the two countries' free trade agreement, cultivate business-to-business relationships between the two countries, collaborate on projects in Central America and collaborate in cybersecurity, according to a statement from the president’s office.

“Mexico is in a mode right now of trying to figure out who its real friends are and who some of its new friends might be,” said Erik Lee, executive director of the Phoenix-based think tank North American Research Partnership. He added that Mexico would likely want to have the influence Israel has in Washington.

“The lobby that Israel has been able to put together in the United States is impressive and Mexico views that with tremendous amount of respect,” Lee said.

But Mexico would have a more difficult time mobilizing the influence of Mexican Americans, given their economic and geographic diversity, Lee said.

Jorge Valencia was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2016 to 2019.