Mexican leader to invite Trump to inauguration, signals shift on Venezuela

MEXICO CITY, July 5 (Reuters) - Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he would invite U.S. President Donald Trump to his Dec. 1 inauguration, as the leftist signaled a potential shift in Mexican policy toward Venezuela.

Lopez Obrador, who won election by a landslide on Sunday, said he would invite Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other heads of state to his swearing in.

"An invitation will be sent to Donald Trump. We are neighboring countries, we have economic and trade relations, a bond of friendship," Lopez Obrador told a news conference.

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Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures after casting his ballot at a polling station during the presidential election in Mexico City, Mexico July 1, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and Mexico's president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador shake hands during a meeting at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico in this handout photograph released to Reuters by the Mexico Presidency, July 3, 2018. Mexico Presidency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador looks on during a news conference after a meeting with the Business Coordinating Council (CCE) in Mexico City, Mexico July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
The president of the Businessmen's Coordinating Council, Juan Pablo Castanon (L) speaks with Mexico's elected President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador during a press conference after holding a private meeting in Mexico City, on July 4, 2018. (Photo by Ronaldo SCHEMIDT / AFP) (Photo credit should read RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexico's president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addresses the media after a private meeting with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico July 3, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures after a news conference to announce Marcelo Ebrard as his pick for foreign minister, in Mexico City, Mexico July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JULY 05: President-elect of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, speaks to the media after a press conference to announce Marcelo Ebrard's appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs at Salon D'Luz on July 5, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - JULY 05: President-elect of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, leaves in his car after a press conference to announce Marcelo Ebrard's appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs at Salon D'Luz on July 5, 2018 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City after holding a meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto, on July 3, 2018 - Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador meets his outgoing predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, to begin preparing the transition he promises will bring 'profound change' to the country. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waves to supporters during his closing campaign rally at the Azteca stadium, in Mexico City, Mexico June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gestures as he addresses supporters after polls closed in the presidential election, in Mexico City, Mexico July 2, 2018. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Newly elected Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (C), running for 'Juntos haremos historia' party, cheers his supporters at the Zocalo Square after winning general elections, in Mexico City, on July 1, 2018. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP) (Photo credit should read PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexico's presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, standing for the coalition 'Juntos haremos historia', takes a look at the crowd during the closing rally of his campaign at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City, on June 27, 2018, ahead of the upcoming July 1 presidential election. (Photo by ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Relations between the two men will be under close scrutiny to see whether they can move past tensions over migration, the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Trump's demand that Mexico pay for a border wall.

The 64-year-old Lopez Obrador wants to broker a deal with Trump under which the United States helps economic development in Mexico and Central America, and Mexico works to reduce migration from the region north.

Lopez Obrador broached the issue with Trump on Monday in what he described as a friendly and respectful phone call. Trump said he felt the relationship would be a "very good one."

An aide to the incoming Mexican president said the call served as a reset in ties between the neighboring countries.

Lopez Obrador's team is preparing for a joint meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto in Mexico City at the end of next week.

More openly nationalist in outlook than his immediate predecessors, Lopez Obrador has shown little interest in foreign affairs in the past, focusing on Mexico's domestic problems.

Replying to a question about the approach his government would take to the crisis in socialist-led Venezuela, Lopez Obrador said: "We're going to apply the foreign policy of non-intervention of self-determination of nations."

Non-intervention in the affairs of other states has been a bedrock of Mexico's foreign policy.

Still, Pena Nieto's government has spoken out strongly against Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro for what it sees as his undemocratic practices, siding with the United States and seeking votes against the OPEC nation in diplomatic forums.

Lopez Obrador called the news conference to announce that his close aide Marcelo Ebrard, 58, would replace his original pick for foreign minister, Hector Vasconcelos.

Ebrard, who succeeded Lopez Obrador as mayor of Mexico City, is regarded as a political moderate on the left. (Reporting by Dave Graham; writing by Anthony Esposito; editing by Tom Brown and James Dalgleish)

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