On the last stage of his brief tour of Latin America, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been holding talking with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto.
Pena Nieto told reporters that he had accepted Israel’s offer to help it and the United States “develop Central America.” That agreement entails development projects in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, in particular. Both the United States and Mexico want to intervene in Central America's so-called Northern Triangle in an effort to stem migration to the United States.
Speaking at a news conference alongside his Israeli counterpart, Pena Nieto also said the two had agreed to update their free trade agreement.
"We have agreed to establish and begin the ... negotiations to look over this agreement so that the commercial relationship between both nations intensifies and grows," he said.
With Netanyahu's visit focused on increasing trade and investment between the two, the Israeli leader met with 10 leading Mexican businessmen before the country's President. Some 150 Israeli firms already operate in Mexico and plans are underway for further expansion.
Netanyahu’s visit marked the first one to Latin America by a sitting Israeli prime minister.
And as with his stopovers in Argentina and Colombia earlier this week, there were protests against his tour.
Mexico's National Regeneration Movement, MORENA, and its parliamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies called for the foreign ministry to stop him from entering the country following his statements earlier this year.
In January, Netanyahu had expressed his support for the expansion of the border wall between the United States and Mexico.
"This sovereignty urges the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to express, through its diplomatic channels, its dissatisfaction with the xenophobic statements issued by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the beginning of the year in his official accounts and declare him persona non grata,” said MORENA’s statement.
It also called on the ministry to reject Israel’s “irregular settlements in Gaza and the West Bank.”
Netanyahu was later met with protests by Palestine solidarity activists, including those from the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. They demonstrated outside the meeting headqarters with flags and banners.
Mexico marks Netanyahu’s last stop in South America. In Argentina, he started intensifying his attempts to gain support for his campaign against Iran.
Netanyahu targeted both Tehran and the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah during a speech in Buenos Aires, and blamed them for the bombings at the city's Jewish Center in 1994, as well as the Israeli embassy in 1992.
Tehran has denied both attacks.
Israel's president says Islamic terrorism is a threat to Latin America... since when? �� pic.twitter.com/XXPjXbtwGP— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) September 14, 2017
In Colombia, Netanyahu also tried to drum up support against Iran.
"Iran's terrorist ties are everywhere, including Latin America, and we believe that all countries should unite as Israel is collaborating with Arab countries to prevent aggression and terror from spreading," Netanyahu said after meeting the Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
He was greeted by protesters in both countries who accused him of genocidal policies against the Palestinian people, including ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity in Gaza and the Occupied Territories.
Mexico and Israel’s diplomatic ties extend far back. The country first received Israeli weaponry in 1973, with sales of hardware including small arms, mortars and electronic fences escalating in the early 2000s, according to the Electronic Intifada.
And in June, a group of prominent Mexican journalists and activists accused the government of illegal surveillance, saying their phones had been hacked with Israeli spyware sold exclusively to the state.
Pena Nieto admits his government bought the software but denies using it for espionage purposes.
Mexico's head of the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes Against the Freedom of Expression has opened an investigation into the claims.