Guatemala cancels meeting between Morales and Trump

International News

FILE – In this June 18, 2019 file photo, migrants arriving from Guatemala disembark from a raft in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. Guatemala’s office of the presidency said in a Sunday, July 14, 2019 statement that a meeting between Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales and U.S. President Donald Trump would be rescheduled due to legal appeals aimed at preventing Morales from acceding to Trump’s requests to allow migrants, including non-Guatemalans, to remain in Guatemala while they apply for U.S. asylum instead of waiting at the Mexico-U.S. border. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A meeting in Washington between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales purportedly over a potential “safe third country” agreement for asylum seekers has been canceled, Guatemala’s office of the presidency said Sunday.

The presidency said that the meeting would be rescheduled because the Constitutional Court has not yet ruled on legal appeals aimed at preventing Morales from acceding to Trump’s requests. The meeting had been set to take place Monday.

“Due to speculation and legal proceedings admitted for processing to the Constitutional Court, a decision was made to reschedule the bilateral meeting until we know what was resolved by said court,” a statement said. “The government of the republic reiterates that at no moment has it contemplated signing an agreement to convert Guatemala into a safe third country.”

It added that other bilateral issues in the public interest would continue to be discussed.

A “safe third country” agreement would mean that Salvadorans, Hondurans and people from elsewhere who cross into Guatemala would have to apply for asylum there instead of doing so at the U.S. border — potentially easing the immigration crush that the United States is dealing with and handing Trump a concession he could tout as a win.

Critics have said that the Guatemalan government does not have the resources to help migrants and asylum seekers trying to get to the U.S. when tens of thousands of its own citizens have fled just this year.

U.S. officials said that “safe third country” is on the table though not finalized, but the Guatemalan government said it was not intending to make such a deal.

The Constitutional Court was scheduled to convene on Sunday to discuss the legal basis for prohibiting Morales, Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel and Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart from signing an agreement.

Alfredo Brito, secretary for presidential communication, told The Associated Press there is no scheduled date for a new meeting between Morales and Trump.

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