Trump sends Tillerson and Kelly to Mexico

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly are due to arrive in Mexico Wednesday, in the highest profile U.S. diplomatic mission to visit the country since Donald Trump became president.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto abruptly canceled a January meeting in the United States with Trump, amid a dispute between the two leaders that spilled over into social media.

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Rex Tillerson through his career
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Rex Tillerson through his career

Exxon Mobil Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Rex Tillerson speaks at a news conference following the Exxon Mobil annual shareholders meeting in Dallas, Texas May 30, 2007. Tillerson told reporters on Wednesday that the construction of the Mackenzie pipeline project in Canada was not viable at current cost levels.

(REUTERS/Mike Stone)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson look on at a signing ceremony in the Black Sea resort of Sochi August 30, 2011. Exxon and Russia's Rosneft signed a deal on Tuesday to develop oil and gas reserves in the Russian Arctic, opening up one of the last unconquered drilling frontiers to the global industry No.1.

(REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool)

Executives from six major oil companies are sworn in to testify at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the "Consolidation in the Oil and Gas Industry: Raising Prices?" on Capitol Hill in Washington March 14, 2006. The executives are (L-R) Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corp., James Mulva, Chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, David O'Reilly, Chairman and CEO of Chevron Corp., Bill Klesse, CEO of Valero Energy Corp., John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil Company and Ross Pillari, President and CEO of BP America Inc.

(Jason Reed / Reuters)

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson speaks during the IHS CERAWeek 2015 energy conference in Houston, Texas April 21, 2015.

(REUTERS/Daniel Kramer/File Photo)

Chairman, President and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation Rex Tillerson watches a tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club course in Pebble Beach, California, February 6, 2014.

(REUTERS/Michael Fiala)

Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil; John Watson, chairman and CEO of Chevron Corp.; James Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Co.; and Lamar McKay, president and chairman of BP America Inc.; are sworn in during the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment hearing on their safety practices as oil continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig - operated by BP - exploded last month.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson speaks during the IHS CERAWeek 2015 energy conference in Houston, Texas April 21, 2015.

(REUTERS/Daniel Kramer/File Photo)

WASHINGTON, DC - May 12: James Mulva, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips; and Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp.; during the Senate Finance hearing on oil and gas tax incentives.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation Rex W. Tillerson and Norway Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg attends the United Nations Foundation's global leadership dinner at The Pierre Hotel on November 8, 2011 in New York City.

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson, chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp., left, speaks with Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates Inc., during the 2015 IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, April 21, 2015. CERAWeek 2015, in its 34th year, will provide new insights and critically-important dialogue with decision-makers in the oil and gas, electric power, coal, renewables, and nuclear sectors from around the world.

(Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Renda St. Clair and Rex Tillerson attend the reopening celebration at Ford's Theatre on February 11, 2009 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Abby Brack/Getty Images)

Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, listens during a meeting at the Department of the Interior September 22, 2010 in Washington, DC. Secretary of the Interior Kenneth L. Salazar hosted Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Gulf Oil Spill National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen (Ret.), representatives from the private sector and others to discus strengthening the containment abilities to deep water oil and gas well blowouts like the recent BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

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Tillerson and Kelly's meetings are slated "to allow the new U.S. Cabinet members to establish relationships and coordinate on bilateral issues" with Mexican officials, CNN reports, and perhaps to repair damage.

[READ: What Would a Mexico Border Tax Mean for Americans?]

But the United States' relationship with its southern neighbor, traditionally a strong ally, seems likely to remain precarious: Mexico has been a focal point of criticism of Trump's since day one of the then-candidate's campaign for president. The president and his team have continuously promised that the construction of a larger literal, physical barrier -- a wall -- between the countries is imminent; Mexico's government opposes the project. Further, Kelly on Tuesday made public memos that detail sweeping plans to ramp up deportations of those in the U.S. lacking documentation, many of whom are of Mexican origin.

The meetings are scheduled to spill over into Thursday. Kelly will first travel to Guatemala, where he will meet with President Jimmy Morales, after which, he will join Tillerson in Mexico, DHS said in a statement on Monday.

"During their visit, the two secretaries will meet with President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto and the Mexican ministers of Interior, Foreign Relations, Finance, National Defense, and Navy. The group will discuss border security, law enforcement cooperation, and trade, among other issues," the statement reads.

The State Department noted in its statement that Tillerson will meet with personnel at U.S. Embassy Mexico.

Mexico's foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, last week laid out at the G-20 economic summit in Bonn why he thinks this moment is imperative for bilateral relations between the countries.

"This is a moment of definition: The decisions we make in the coming months will determine how Mexico and the United States coexist for the next decades," Videgaray said at the margins of the summit.

The Los Angeles Times notes that the foreign minister "has established a close relationship" with Jared Kushner, senior adviser to Trump and the president's son-in-law, holding several unannounced meetings with him since Trump's surprising election in November.

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