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Lopez Obrador taps ex-mayor of Mexico City as top diplomat

July 5, 2018
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Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gives a press conference in Mexico City, Thursday, July 5, 2018. Lopez Obrador is proposing former Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard to be the country's next top diplomat. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday that he will propose former Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard to be the country’s next top diplomat.

Lopez Obrador said in a news conference that his previous pick, Hector Vasconcelos, was elected as a senator and will serve in that body.

“I have all confidence in him” and “he is a man who is going to help us a lot,” Lopez Obrador said of his new choice for foreign relations secretary.

Ebrard was mayor of the Mexican capital from 2006 to 2012, following Lopez Obrador’s term there.

The selection of Ebrard could draw opposition when it is time for his confirmation.

A new subway line built during his tenure suffered from design problems that caused excessive wear on rails. Line 12 was partly closed for nearly a year forcing hundreds of thousands of people to use buses instead.

During a wide-ranging news conference Thursday, Lopez Obrador also said that U.S. President Donald Trump would be invited to attend his inauguration along with other heads of state.

“We’re neighboring countries, we have economic, commercial relationships, bonds of friendship,” Lopez Obrador said. “The development cooperation with the government of the United States is very important to us.”

Lopez Obrador and Ebrard were scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on July 13. President Enrique Pena Nieto and the current foreign secretary will also meet with Pompeo.

Lopez Obrador said the meeting’s purpose would be to take a “first look” at the Mexico-U.S. agenda and give Pompeo a sketch of his proposals.

Lopez Obrador was elected Sunday in a landslide. He will take office Dec. 1.

The president-elect said he was considering getting some sort of personal security after receiving a lot of advice on his habit of driving around in a sedan with no bodyguards, raising fears for his safety.

He said that he was “analyzing it” after many politicians, including one of his top Cabinet picks, said he should get protection.

Lopez Obrador said before his crushing victory in Sunday’s election that he would not use Mexico’s equivalent of the secret service and would merge it back with the army, of which it is a branch.

In the four days since he was elected, he has repeatedly said he didn’t want bodyguards and that “the people will protect me.”

He has also said the crowd of press also serves to protect him, but complained half-jokingly about the crush of journalists that accompany him everywhere — even interviewing him from motorcycles that shadow his car’s every move.

He said Thursday: “I would like a little, just a little bit, of privacy.”

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