Donald Trump has backed down on his plans to designate Mexican drug cartels as terror groups, saying he was doing so at the request of the Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Last month, Mr Trump had called for a “war” on the cartels after the killings of nine women and children from a US-Mexican Mormon community.
The Mexican government had said they strongly opposed the move and insisted they wanted to stem the flow of weapons and money from the US to criminal gangs in Mexico.
Marcelo Ebrard, Mexico’s foreign minister, had reacted angrily to the US president’s plans and said that Mexico “will never allow any action that means a violation of its national sovereignty.”
On Friday night, Mr Ebrard welcomed Mr Trump’s change of heart. “I’m thankful for President Donald Trump’s decision to delay the designation of organisations as terrorists at the request of President Lopez Obrador,” he said in a tweet. “Cooperation has won and there will be good results.”
Mr Trump claimed on Friday that “all necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organisations,” but said he was putting the move on hold out of respect for Mr Lopez Obrador.
“We will temporarily hold off this designation and step up our joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organisations!” the president tweeted.
Mr Trump said that Lopez Obrador was a “man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us.”
The Mormon killings has cast a spotlight on drug cartel-fueled violence in Mexico and the government’s struggles to prevent it. Mr Lopez Obrador came to power last year on a platform to end the heavy death toll caused by the cartels.
The victims, including twin eight-month-old babies, were killed as they drove on a remote road between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua, in northern Mexico, a region disputed by warring drug cartels.