It’s a story that has the potential to become an iconic tale of diplomacy and national pride in the US, a story of the US taking on a much larger, more powerful and less corrupt Mexico.
And now, after a year and a half of negotiations, it looks like that may be about to happen.
The deal reached between the two countries last week is the first to allow the US Embassy in Mexico to operate in the country.
The accord allows the embassy to work on “the full range of the diplomatic, consular, and consular services” provided to Mexico, and allows the US to hire the country’s top diplomats and staff.
The agreement, which is expected to be signed in the coming days, also gives the US an additional $1.6 billion in funding for its embassy in the next 10 years, to be used to “provide training, equipment, and other resources to Mexican and other foreign diplomats.”
And in return, Mexico will receive $5.7 billion over the next decade for the construction of the embassy, which will cost about $5 billion.
The White House said that, if the deal is finalized, it will also give the US Congress “an opportunity to review the agreement with the Mexico government,” a request that could come as early as Monday.
This isn’t the first time that Mexico has sought the United States’ help in securing its embassy.
Back in 2013, the US offered to help Mexico secure its embassy for $1 billion in the form of an infrastructure investment package, but the Mexican government said it would prefer to take the job.
Mexico had been considering an additional US$2.8 billion in infrastructure investments as well, but this time around, it was more interested in the money than the help, said a White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are private.
The White House’s push for more infrastructure money came after the Trump administration announced it would seek to spend more than $1 trillion in aid to Mexico over the coming decade.
The embassy’s future, at least for now, will be decided in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is looking to secure funding for the building of the consulate.
In the past, the Senate has approved more than 70 infrastructure projects, but only a handful have been awarded.
The current agreement also provides for the establishment of an embassy-to-diplomatic liaison program, with Mexico receiving $50 million for a year to “support and assist the embassy in developing an embassy program.”
The deal also allows the two governments to exchange ambassadors, with a new ambassador chosen each year.
It also allows for the two nations to appoint two new foreign ministers, who will also serve in the position of ambassador.
The foreign ministers will be tasked with ensuring that the embassy is “fit for purpose, with sufficient capacity, and with appropriate resources.”
The embassy will also be given a staff of 60, and will be housed in a renovated former US Embassy.
As the agreement was signed on Thursday, President Donald Trump said that the US would help “continue to lead the world in diplomacy and defense.”