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WASHINGTON, D.C. Fri. Nov 18, 2021 (Reuters) – The United States will invest in Central America and southern Mexico to promote development and help contain immigration, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Thursday, following a leaders’ summit in Washington.

Speaking at a news conference after talks between Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ebrard said the United States would contribute to a scheme likely to be called “sembrando oportunidades”, or ‘planting opportunities’.

Ebrard did not give details, or the size of the investment, but said Mexico’s government would work with U.S. agencies.

“The most important thing is that there’s been a response to what President Lopez Obrador has been proposing in relation to migration and the future,” Ebrard said, referring to Lopez Obrador’s efforts to spur regional development.

Central America and Mexico’s poorer south are home to many people who try to cross into the United States illegally.

Ebrard said a proposal by Lopez Obrador to spur investment in North America to substitute imports and reduce dependence on suppliers from outside the region was “very well received”.

“Because when the supply chains come under stress, you end up very vulnerable,” Ebrard said.

His ministry also said the leaders had agreed on the need to take a coordinated approach to stemming illegal inflows of hundreds of thousands of guns into Mexico, where many end up in the hands of gangs.

Ebrard said talks with Trudeau covered Canada helping Mexico to upgrade its network of hydro-electric plants, pointing to the expertise of Canadian firm Hydro-Qu├ębec and saying Lopez Obrador wanted to “invite them.”

(Writing by Dave Graham; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez)

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